Powering Forward with Nangia Nangia

Tech innovator Nangia Nangia saw a gap in the way children are being taught – and has created a unique business in order to solve it. Enter Scratchpad.

Although education is an integral part of our lives, it’s rare that we challenge established ways of learning.

Nangia Nangia did, however, and took issue with a huge educational gap he observed in schools – the absence of true technology-based learning. 

Nangia was quick to develop Scratchpad as a response to this, and the space – a centre where children can take a hands-on approach to learning coding, programming and robotics – has since gone from strength to strength.

“What schools were trying to do at that point in time was having more emphasis on creating users of technology, not giving kids creative knowledge related to technology,” Nangia said. 

“It makes them consumers of technology rather than creators of technology.”

Nangia’s key learnings from Scratchpad:

  • Tech-based solutions can have profound impacts on people’s lives, so innovate with abandon
  • Don’t let hunger for growth outweigh your need to deliver quality services
  • Getting your underlying business technologies working efficient will allow you to consider more advanced tools sooner

Devising new ways improve learning

In his research Nangia found that schools associated the use of electronics – particularly laptops and tablets like iPads – with embracing technology, while doing little to educate children about the technology itself.

“They’re not teaching kids how an app could be developed, how a website actually works, or how an e-commerce solution works,” Nangia said. 

The passion for everything tech didn’t come from nowhere, though – Nangia’s decade-spanning relationship with technology explains his push for children to better develop their own understanding.

“All my life it's been technology, working for big corporates in the UK, India and New Zealand,” he said. 

How Scratchpad has made a difference

Despite working with some of the largest companies in the world, Nangia’s Scratchpad highlights are much more down to earth.

“It's not just technology. I think there's a lot more that we’ve learned throughout this journey,” he said. 

“A parent whose daughter was diagnosed with ADHD came to us and told us how the doctor has noticed positive behavioural changes and she attributed all those to Scratchpad.

“That was absolutely fantastic, and we couldn't have asked for anything more.”

These small – but important – successes have helped guide Nangia through larger ones – from humble beginnings in a single centre in St. Lukes, there are now five Scratchpad centres in Auckland.

Although such rapid expansion in so short a time is impressive, it’s less about numbers for Nangia. 

“More than the number of centres, I think what we're looking for is being able to provide that quality that we strive for.

“That is absolutely something which is absolutely critical for us.” 


How COVID fast-tracked the move to online learning

As with many other businesses around the country, COVID-19 introduced issues for Scratchpad.

“The impact has been huge,” said Nangia.

“We wanted to make sure the quality and the services that we offer didn’t suffer, so we managed to move everything online.”

Fortunately for Scratchpad, they were as prepared as possible for the shift. 

“We were running virtual sessions across the country from day one,” said Nangia.

Scaling proved to be a problem, however.

“Rather than a few virtual online sessions, we were running multiple virtual online sessions or at the same time.

“There were a few hiccups around session timings and things like that, but it was more or less very seamless.” 

Technology, unsurprisingly, was Scratchpad’s saviour, but it didn’t mean that they come out of the pandemic unscathed – there were some crucial business elements even technology couldn’t help.

“I wouldn't say that business did not get affected.

“There were a lot of parents who were a bit worried and concerned and, and people’s jobs have been affected as well.”

How Scratchpad benefits from accounting software

Scratchpad’s deep focus on technology has meant that accounting software has consistently been an integral part of the business.

“We use Essentials, and all our franchisees use Essential as well – we’re all avid Essentials users,” said Nangia.

“It was recommended to me by one of our business advisors and when we started looking at it, it fit the bill.

“We've been using it from day one.”

In addition to automated custom bank rules and invoice forwarding, Nangia found that the scaling potential of Essentials as Scratchpad grew helped easily follow the progress of other centres. 

“We can see how each individual franchisee is doing.

“We have access to that account as a user, so some of those features are pretty essential for us, and they work quite well,” he said.

“That was absolutely fantastic, and we couldn't have asked for anything more.”


What the future holds for Scratchpad

For Nangia, there is a clear goal in mind for Scratchpad.

“I think for us, it would be in the next five years, having more and more students getting involved with Scratchpad and learning technology in the right manner.” 

As for the curriculum?

“AI is on the top on the list,” said Nangia. 

“There is quite a lot that we can do going forward with artificial intelligence and machine learning, and those are skills that we are definitely working towards and imparting to our students.”

Nangia Nangia

Nangia Nangia is the founder of Scratchpad.