Nico Isler, Founder of proov, who worked with LEXR for their Data Protection Officer Subscription, talks about the idea behind proov, how corona has forever changed higher education and what role data protection plays for them.
The idea behind proov originally came from me and my cofounder being students. We realized there was a missing piece in universities: to be able to exchange knowledge between students.
We began this journey first in Switzerland in the main public universities and initially started proov as a tutoring platform for university students. Tutors could benefit by gaining experiences, improving their soft skills, and polishing their CV, while students new on campus that didn’t know where to find resources could benefit from tapping into other students’ know-how. The tutoring platform was a great way to match them together.
Proov gained ground and could expand when we realized that universities were lacking certain aspects when it comes to taking care of their students. Especially when covid-19 hit, universities needed to focus more on the students than they used to do, in particular with the new Generation Z who are exclusively on their mobile phones and different online platforms.
There was a need for a real shift to a student-centered approach where universities were required to treat their students with more care. I think it was taken for granted that students simply paid their tuition fees without really complaining or doing something about the service they received.
As there have been so many alternatives to higher education these days, universities needed to align their focus and resources, especially since covid has changed the game. In fact, experts in the industry claim that higher education is not going back to the way it was before.
Yes, the push came from simply sitting in class and seeing students struggling. We had a student club that was organizing tutoring sessions however these were organized via an old-school excel sheet with phone numbers bringing a lot of inconvenience with it. In fact, this is still the case in most universities these days.
Our opportunity was to license our app to universities to help them match the new student expectations towards experience with improved university services.
Having a data protection officer (DPO) was important for us. As a startup, it’s sometimes difficult to get a foot through the door when wanting to collaborate with universities. The fact that we were able to have a reference point for our data protection legal topics made a difference, as this field is critical to the universities due to them handling all their students’ sensitive data. It was important for us for credibility, to show that we handle their data in a compliant manner, and to be able to close the deals with confidence on their side
The experience we had with LEXR and the DPO subscription was great. Working with LEXR felt like they were part of our team. We worked together pretty much like a startup, taking the resources and the requirements we had making it fit. We all had one core focus and that was to be able to close the first deals and increase the reputation of the company with LEXR as a DPO to support us.
Yes, higher education was behind 5-10 years when it comes to remote learning. And in March last year universities suddenly had to go online. A lot of institutions have realized that especially revenue from international students will not come back to the level at which it was before. This was a substantial revenue stream, especially for universities from the US.
Now we see higher interest in platforms that help students connect amongst themselves as a fully online or hybrid format (either campus or online). We believe this trend is long-term and it’s just the beginning of a complete change in the higher education space.
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