From Boort to Dubai
BY KERRY ANDERSON
A LOVE of sharing knowledge and an ability to problem solve led to a unique business opportunity for Jarrod Robinson who is inspiring physical education teachers world-wide to get better results for their students through use of technology. Known as The PE Geek, Jarrod has just returned from a six month world tour and is now preparing for a global conference to be held in Dubai in October 2016.
Jarrod’s exciting diversion into business kicked off in 2012 while he was teaching Year 12 students in physical education at Boort, a P-12 school that services a small agricultural region in regional Victoria.
Growing up in a similar rural community in the Goulburn Valley, Jarrod had been encouraged by his hard working parents from a young age to be resourceful.
Long before “tech was cool” and, despite no formal ICT training, he recognised the value of technology and, sitting on his couch at home of an evening, designed a mobile app complete with podcasts, videos, articles and social elements to better engage his students for their Victorian Curriculum Exam. In the first year this free app was downloaded over 15,000 times by VCE students’ state wide indicating that Jarrod had hit on a winner.
“This success inspired me to build on the app suite venturing into all areas of education,” says Jarrod. While his first app was built using a web platform called Appmakr he soon had to outsource the more complicated apps with overseas programmers, eventually employing a developer in the Ukraine with whom he works closely.
“It’s been a great relationship. He handles the heavy lifting, is paid for his services, and as a result is now able to afford a university education and travel.”
Jarrod soon attracted a large following world-wide through his The PE Geek blog and website. He started travelling the world every school holiday break conducting workshops.
With the challenge of balancing his love of teaching, the growing demands of his business, and his own health and fitness taking a back seat, something had to change. In early 2015 Jarrod made the decision to take leave from his teaching position enabling him to restructure and grow the business to an entirely new level under his new company, ConnectedPE.
Most importantly, there have been significant changes as to how he does business.
Jarrod now works on the 80/20 principle with him focusing on what he is most effective at, the workshops, training and professional development for teachers. A six month world tour took him to ten countries focussing on the workshops. With the assistance of partner Amy, who also left her job so she can travel with him, Jarrod is now planning for a global conference to be held in Dubai in October 2016.
From a #nolife hashtag Jarrod is now working less hours for more return by focussing on what he does best and outsourcing all other tasks, even the ones he is capable of doing himself, to freelance professionals. Essentially he has tapped into a global talent pool.
“I use sites like upwork.com or ask other entrepreneurs for referrals,” he explains. “For example I can send them the raw audio footage and they can do the editing for my podcast.”
Essential for every business to grow, his all-important marketing is also outsourced and Jarrod pulls out his smart phone to demonstrate how a Slack tool can distribute work through multiple channels to various team members.
Instead of working harder to get more clients, Jarrod has embraced the philosophy of reverse marketing.
“Ninety percent of our content is free,” he explains. “We put content out through the newsletter, podcast, blog and social media explaining what we do and ultimately drawing clients to us whether it is a workshop or the mentoring program. Social media is the key.”
Keeping his audience engaged and building an ongoing relationship is an important part of his strategy. “I know who my customers are, where they live, and what they like.”
Back in Central Victoria for a break between engagements, Jarrod is clearly excited about what is happening in the technical world.
“We’re seeing the start of a big disruption,” he says. “It’s not about government creating change, it is up to us.”
He believes that technology will have a much bigger role in the coming years. “Artificial intelligence is currently seen as a gimmick but when developed further it will have a massive impact in the classroom.”
In case you haven’t worked it out by now, Jarrod doesn’t consider himself to be a traditional teacher.
“I don’t do chalk, it’s not my style.” He prefers encouraging students in active learning and self-discovery. In the privileged position of being able to observe changes in education on a global scale, Jarrod is at the cutting edge of education.
“Teachers think that content delivery is the most important but it’s not. We’re best at developing relationships and creating a learning environment for students.”
According to Jarrod, transferring to working with students to adults hasn’t been all that difficult. “It’s easy to work on a core idea with adults, you just have to be aware of the learning intent in the room.”
Viewing online videos of Jarrod’s presentations and listening to his podcasts it becomes evident how he engages so well with his audiences. Utilising his love of physical interaction with a passion for technology and new ideas, he is clearly genuine about sharing his knowledge.
Thank you Jarrod for sharing with us.
JARROD’S TOP 5 BUSINESS TIPS:
1. Turn off all your bad projects and focus on what you’re best at.
2. Outsource the tasks that others can do for you.
3. Identify your good customers and work with them.
4. Look for leveraged solutions to get more value.
5. Consider automated and segmented systems to be more efficient.
POSTSCRIPT: The Dubai Conference is done and dusted. It was a great success with over 150 educators attending from 15 countries. Well done Jarrod!
KERRY ANDERSON: A businesswoman, philanthropist and community advocate from Central Victoria, Kerry Anderson is passionate about rural and regional Australia. She works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE
MEET KERRY IN PERSON: During August Kerry is sharing her knowledge on entrepreneurship as part of the Small Business Festival in Melbourne (8 Aug), Geelong (19 Aug) and Bendigo (31 Aug). READ MORE