IN this week's SME Focus we hear from a young businessman who cut his teeth as an entrepreneur while still at school.


Marcus Fields.



What is your business called?

We have just undergone a rebrand and our name has now changed from Room Booking System to School Cloud Systems.

Where is it based?

Back when it was just myself and my fellow director Robbie we were both working from home but because the company has grown and we have taken on new staff we moved recently into new offices in Glasgow.

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

We provide two pieces of web-based software. The first is Parents' Evening System, which means that rather than relying on their child to organise appointments with a teacher for parents' night, they can now go online and book their own appointment through our system. We believe this is the market leading system of its kind in the UK.

The second product Room Booking System is used by staff in schools to book meeting or IT rooms and even laptops and iPads for their classes.

Our products have helped us win a couple of awards recently including Best UK Enterprise at the Bank of Scotland Enterprise Awards 2014, which gave us a £50,000 cash investment in our business. Room Booking System also won us the ICT Company of the year in the 'up to £1m turnover' category at this year's Bett Awards, for the educational technology sector.

Who does it sell to?

Primary and secondary schools that are looking to embrace the latest technology. In reality we are saving schools so much time because in the past it could be a real hassle to organise appointments for three-four hundred parents whereas now this is all taken care of for them.

We have noticed that a lot of our new customers come to us via word of mouth and referrals. As the younger generations of parents come through I think they are seeing the real value in the types of technology that we are able to offer.

What is its turnover?


How many employees?

Five including myself and my fellow director, Robbie Beattie.

When was it formed?

Back in June 2006 when both Robbie and I were attending Mearns Castle High School in East Renfrewshire, we were both sixteen at the time.

Why did you take the plunge?

Robbie and I had finished up early in our computing class toward the end of term, when our teacher Ian Cairns suggested working on a project for the school. We went on to create the first version of what is now School Cloud Systems in the final weeks of term and over the summer of that year

Without our teacher Ian we wouldn't be here today, he was really supportive throughout although I think he was a bit shocked when we first suggested the school buy the system from us. But it all worked out and our school became our first customer.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

We were just a couple of ordinary school kids. We also ran the business while I was studying at Glasgow University and Robbie was through on the East Coast at Edinburgh University.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

We persuaded our high school to buy the first version of our product. The money from this first sale was then used to set up a website and do some initial marketing. Since then we have just continually reinvested everything back into the business. So we haven't had to take on any outside funding.

What was your biggest break?

Probably the biggest moment for the company so far was signing a re-sell agreement with Capita through their Capita Children's Services division. They make the systems that basically run a school by keeping attendance and pupil data etc. Their system operates throughout 22,000 schools mainly in England but internationally as well. They noticed that our products were in demand and were keen to re-sell them. This was a huge break for us.

What was your worst moment?

For me personally it was when I graduated in 2012. I had an offer from one of the big three management consultancy firms and had to make a really difficult decision to either go down this route or pursue the business with Robbie. This was no doubt a good career opportunity but ultimately I knew my passion lay with the company.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

It's been amazing to grow a business with a friend which started out as a simple high school project. It was fun back then and thankfully still fun now - there's always something new happening and I look forward to heading into work every day.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

We are looking to grow our presence abroad and have just launched an international brand for our parents evening system under the slightly different name, Meet the Teacher. We are actually booked up to attend a trade show in the States next year, which should hopefully be a big stepping stone for us.

What are your top priorities?

Quality of customer support and the quality of our products. It is all very well having good customer support in place but if the product itself doesn't have the right features then all of this is pointless.

Ease of use is crucial too. Being used in schools, our products have to be intuitive and accessible. Having a great team is essential for propelling the company forward too.

Availability of service is a natural priority for any web-based company. You get parents going online at all times of the day and night to book these appointments so the system always has to be up and running.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

The Government could offer more business support to young growing start-ups. While there are a few schemes already, we found ourselves in the unique situation where we were too young to receive support when we were still in high school or University, yet the company had been going too long once we finished University to still be considered a start-up.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

That it is entirely possible to run a company when you are a school pupil or at university. Our customers are still unaware that they were actually dealing with students during this time and all the while we were being praised for customer service and the quality of our product.

How do you relax?

Like any other 24 year old. I go to the gym and play badminton and golf occasionally. I also play a bit of guitar and get caught up with friends over the weekend.