Student platform Gecko branches out with high-profile business signing
A Scottish education technology company that helps universities engage and recruit students has appointed a high-profile businessman to help lead further overseas expansion.
Jeremy Cooper, former president at Hobsons – a firm that aims to help students succeed in education – has become Gecko’s non-executive chairman as it enters its next phase of growth.
Gecko, which has offices in London and New York in addition to its Edinburgh headquarters, had a record-breaking 2020 in spite of a challenging operating environment – winning 17 new university and college clients in the UK and US.
During the first quarter of 2021, the company signed a series of new clients including South Texas College in the US and Queens University Belfast in the UK.
Gecko’s technology, which has already been utilised by over 10m students, enables higher education institutions, primarily universities in the UK and the US, to better engage with, recruit and enrol students.
Matthew Lanham, chief executive and founder of Gecko, said: “Every higher education institution is different, but they all face very similar challenges. We take the time, human resources and other capacity of our customers and make it work harder, and are constantly working on solutions to the kind of problems higher education institutions face every day.”
In the wake of Covid-19, Gecko launched a series of initiatives to help the sector address challenges thrown up by the pandemic. These included launching an artificial intelligence-driven free chatbot, ResponseBot, that enabled over 60 universities to deliver automated, up to the minute information to students.
Alongside virtual on-campus and online events, Gecko also delivered free ‘voice over internet protocol’ to customers, with uncapped calling and texting capabilities enabling limitless communications.
Lanham added: “What we’ve seen during the pandemic is that universities have stepped up digital transformation in the face of Covid, and we’ve seen our technology really come into its own over the last twelve months. The next year will be about continual product improvements, and further expansion into North America.
“To get someone of Jeremy’s calibre on board to help guide our growth strategy is a major coup for Gecko, and we look forward to his support in the months and years ahead. As we continue to scale the business, we are actively speaking to the venture capital community about our next phase of growth.”
Cooper will bring extensive industry experience to the role at Gecko. In addition to his previous position as president and chief sales officer at Hobsons, he was formerly vice-president for Europe at Blackboard, the world’s largest educational technology group, and managing director at British software company RM Education.
Cooper said: “Gecko is one of the most exciting and dynamic EdTech companies in the UK, with an international mindset evidenced by the progress made in the US to date. I look forward to working with Matt and the team, who have already developed best-of-class technology, and making sure the company realises its significant potential in the UK and North American markets.”
Gecko hired 6 people in 2020, raising its headcount to 40. The company increased its most recent investment round in 2019, a £2m funding round led by Mercia Asset Management PLC and including Scottish Investment Banks’s Co-Investment Fund. Lanham says he expects to embark on the next investment round later this year.
The pandemic has taught me how to share more – and I feel a better leader for it
As a young professional starting out in the tech sector 30 years ago, I thrived on the fast pace,constant change and demanding workload. I lived in London, Singapore and Australia…
We need to shout about our successes. Liz Fletcher on celebrating women in biotech
Throughout my career in biotechnology and life sciences, I have seen many women leading ground-breaking research studies in their fields of expertise. Yet, and I include myself in this, we…
Getting the best out of patient data is key to unlocking future health benefits in Scotland
It is important that clinicians’ voices are heard in the consultation around Scotland’s new health and care data strategy, which closes this week (12 August). Busy GPs like myself are the trusted…
How motherhood helped me be a better leader
Consider this an open letter to anyone I have worked with before I became a mother and before I fully understood how being a parent is actually a prized asset…
‘We cannot achieve our goals without entrepreneurs’ – Kate Forbes on vision for new ‘tech scaler’ network
From the very start of my ministerial career, I have had responsibility for the Scottish tech sector – and I can still say what I have said from the start,…
Finding a role in cyber was ‘tough’ for Cheryl Torano. Now she’s determined to help other women join an under-represented industry
When I decided to upskill to change careers at the age of 30 and dive into the digital world, I knew I would be starting out at the bottom of…
Why innovation and marketing are the perfect partners to make changes that matter￼
With the rapid evolution of traditional marketing and the appearance of digital marketing, technology and innovation has become part of any marketer’s life without the need of working for a…
Transitioning to a four-day week – CEO’s vow to strike a healthier balance in the workplace
I came to Scotland nearly 20 years ago from Ireland, with no contacts but a lot of determination. While Ireland will always be my home, Scotland has given me amazing…