By June Ramli
Seventeen-year-old Melbourne schoolboy, Eric Rametta has already begun to realise his dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
The teen inventor has recently won the Exo Digital’s Pitch Tank competition which identifies and fosters entrepreneurial talent with StudyMeter, a study planning app that helps students to measure, track and improve their learning.
The win means that he will now receive an Innovation Sprint workshop to help him develop his idea into a full-fledge app.
“When making the transition into high school, I found it difficult to manage independent study and homework.
“There was no way of knowing which topics I needed to focus on and which techniques I needed to use to study those particular areas of content,” Rametta explains.
“It didn’t make much sense to allocate my time and effort based on assumptions that I had about my strengths and weaknesses, in the same way that it wouldn’t make sense to run a Facebook advertising campaign without analytics, simply based on what you think would work best.
“Being a somewhat nerdy guy, I came to appreciate the value of data and analytics soon after starting high school.”
He began tracking the progression of his studies so that he could pinpoint where to focus and techniques that would assist each phase of his learning for all subject topics.
He kept refining the system, turning it into a simple learning model and then began sharing it with a few of his mates.
In a recent interview with DailyStraits.com, Rametta tells us the moment he had an idea for the app and his thoughts on pursuing entrepreneurship at such a young age.
What was the exact moment that sparked the idea for this app?
In the lead up to exams in 2020, more and more of my peers asked me to provide them with physical copies of my initial version of an alternative to traditional school diaries. Word had gotten out about my new way of organising and planning my studies, and my mates seemed desperate to get in on the action. After being begged for copies of the planner after school one day, I realised that I was sitting on a solution to a problem that students desperately needed to be addressed.
What did you do first to start the process of building the app?
Before beginning the app’s development, I wanted to validate the idea. I was scheduled to have an academic interview with a member of the school’s leadership team to determine whether or not I would be allowed to complete a year 12 subject in year 11. I ended up turning that interview into a sales meeting as I began pitching my school on the idea. Having learned that they saw the value of my resource, I proceeded to further validate and refine my planner alongside some of the school’s heads of faculty, coordinators and staff members at focus groups that I held throughout the following year.
Do you know how to code or did you get someone to code the app for you?
I have some rudimentary experience with front-end development. I built an MVP (minimum viable product) conveying the fundamentals of the UI using Google Slides to present the initial idea to the leadership teams of schools across the country as a means of determining the validity of the idea.
Was it easy to find a developer to code the app for you as a 17-year-old?
The development of the app will begin after I complete an Innovation Sprint with Exo Digital to design the platform. I’m looking to engage a dev team over the holidays to build the app early enough for it to be displayed in sales meetings early in the year.
StudyMeter will initially be a web app available on the browser of any device. I hope to eventually have mobile apps developed to complement the web app further down the track.
How does the app monetise?
Schools will be able to pay an annual subscription fee, per student, to provide their students with yearly access to the platform. The most prominent competitors in this space are the companies that supply hard-copy school diaries, such as Createl Publishing. However, schools are in a mood for change, and they wish to bring planning into the 21st century in a way that is relevant and accessible to their students. A transition for schools to the digital age is facilitated by StudyMeter.
What is next for this app?
Once the platform has been developed in the next few months, I’ll be taking StudyMeter to the schools that have already expressed their interest in adopting the resource. I’ve already found that word-of-mouth has enabled growing interest in StudyMeter with teachers encouraging those in other schools to reach out to schedule an appointment with me to discuss the app. This organic growth can be complemented with a few other strategies which I have already seen some success from, such as cold-emailing, presentations at conferences and using my existing network of contacts. In the future, with an established online presence, I’ll begin to employ some more sophisticated marketing techniques.
How much money did you spend to develop the app?
I have my savings to draw upon from working for nearly the last three years to service my engagement of a development team. This is further supplemented by an additional $3,000 in prize money from ClickView that I have recently been awarded for winning the Aussie Student Inventions competition.
What are your plans after you are done with school?
I intend to both enrol in university and focus on my business. I’m looking to study a Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy & Economics at the Australian National University.
What are some of the hurdles you faced as a teen entrepreneur?
When a teenager tells others that they have ambitions to become the founder of a startup, it’s reasonable to expect a roll of the eyes, and maybe even a sny comment about how the term “entrepreneur” has become synonymous with unemployment. Fortunately, the judgement that’s cast upon creative young people is trumped by resilience and grit, qualities which set them up well to push forward and prove the skeptics wrong.
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