Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Bethany Koby, CEO of Technology Will Save Us

By Oliver Smith 26 May 2016
Bethany Koby, CEO and co-founder of Technology Will Save Us
Summary

These leaders are changing the world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world. Ian Fordham, Lindsay Pattison and George Burgess seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning as part of The Memo’s education month we’re talking to Bethany Koby, co-founder and CEO of Technology Will Save Us, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

A designer by background, Koby turned entrepreneur in 2012 with an appetite to help kids understand and get their hands on technology.

Technology Will Save Us, or TWSU, was the result. The group creates a series of make-it-yourself kits for 4, 8, 10 and 12-year-olds to learn, play, code and invent with.

Read more: 9 amazing educational tech toys for kids

Koby’s latest product is the world’s first wearable that kids can code themselves, the DIY Mover Kit, which is part-accessory part-smart learning tool and currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

A busy woman, with big ideas, The Memo asked Koby how she gets it all done…

Bethany Koby with her husband and co-founder Daniel Hirschmann.

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

I have a young son, so we get up early-ish, 6:30–7am.

I drink lemon water, take vitamins and stretch almost every single morning. My husband and I alternate exercise mornings and preparing breakfast, getting our son dressed (he’s only 4 so needs to be reminded to get dressed and not play) and coffee.

Then we walk or ride bikes to school together. I have this theory that if you have kids and a business you need a triangle – your house, office and school and they all need to be a cycle or walking distance from each other.

This helps balance all of these demands. My husband, Daniel, is also my co-founder, we take it in turns to take our son to school. Wherever possible I love to get up and go to yoga before I start the day.

What apps or methods do you use to be more productive?

I am a bit of a slave to my calendar. And unfortunately I have not found the perfect calendar…my Apple calendar does the job but there is a gap!

Trello is fantastic, it’s a great way to manage your to-do list, and also see what the rest of the team are working on.

We also use Slack which is great for our team, as we’re out and about at events or travelling – it’s a great way to keep in touch. And I also incessantly use Evernote for meetings, discussions, to-do lists, conferences etc…

What smartphone do you use?

An iPhone 6 in rose gold

How many people do you meet in a day?

Wow! That’s a big number! We have our wonderful Tech Will Save Us team of which there are about 26 of us.

 

At the moment we are launching our latest product, Mover Kit, on Kickstarter, so in my day I am constantly meeting with potential influencers, with press on the phone or speaking at events. I couldn’t possibly count, LOTS.

What book are you currently reading or which one book would you recommend?

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team a really amazing book that our whole management team read together… it helped us and continues to help us understand our involvement and approaches to working the best together!

John Thackara’s seminal book, In the Bubble changed the way I viewed my design practice and helped me to define design as systems, business models, feedback loops as well as aesthetics.

What advice would you give for someone eager to get into edtech?

Listen to your audience.

It was really important to us that as we grew we listened to our users and we continue to do so. Starting off as a workshop company really helped us get to know our audience, and learn what they liked and didn’t like about our kits.

 

We have a user centred design approach which is now at the very heart of our business. Our users inform a huge part of what we do, our approach to new products and resource development.

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?

We work very globally, so I’ve adopted a routine that fits in well with that. I leave the office around 7pm and have a meal with my family and talk about the day.

Then after my son is bed, I usually check in on emails and plan out the following day before going to bed. But we also have rituals like date night every week and Friday Shabbat dinner that support us with creating time for us.

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a business leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.