Based in the North West of England, tootoot started life as the “world’s first app for children and young people to report a concern” – such as bullying, racism, cyberbullying or mental health.
Co-founder and CEO Michael Brennan was bullied throughout primary and secondary school. As a result of the bullying being so severe, he relocated schools from Essex to Northumberland. Reflecting upon the experience, he realised that no app existed for young people to report their bullying-related concerns to their school.
To date, tootoot has helped more than 500,000 children and young people across 500 schools. Using the app, people have reported more than 60,000 issues directly to their school, college, and university.
We spoke to Brennan to find out more.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Tootoot’s core mission is to support the psychological safety and wellbeing of individuals in order to make organisations happier and safer places. We provide a way for them to raise a concern to their organisation confidentially in order to enable early intervention and support their mental health and wellbeing.
We have created a software service that has not previously been achieved at scale; we are creating a new marketing for ourselves. We have overcome this and secured growth by staying focussed on our “why”, while also educating our target markets on how tootoot can support, rather than hinder them.
Talk us through tootoot’s various products
Based on a combination of the success of tootoot education and media coverage relating child abuse and other concerns within sport, we launched tootoot sport to enable players and members to raise concerns directly to their sports club or national governing body. It’s a safeguarding and listening platform that allows members and players to report any concerns or issues directly to their club.
Tootoot is now the UK’s number one reporting app in the education and sport category and has worked with a number of leading partners – including the Department for education, The Scottish FA and Celtic FC, to name but a few.
We have recently launched tootoot workplace to support employees in the workplace. Health and Safety protects the physical safety of an organisation; that’s why hard hats are worn in construction. But there are no hard hats for employees in the office to protect from the intangible dangers such as stress or harassment – that’s why we need to focus on the psychological safety of our employees. tootoot workplace software supports employers to achieve this.
What’s been your investment story to date?
We have raised £1.5m to date to invest in development resources and talent to support our growth plans. In order to achieve my vision, I saw the importance of raising seed funding at an early stage as quickly as possible in order to attract talent to come on our journey.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs thinking of raising?
I would encourage entrepreneurs who are raising to be prepared for the amount of time and effort it takes to complete an investment round. Ensure to prepare your organisation ahead of an investment round and make sure that you use your time wisely. Be clear on what you need to raise, why you want to raise and the type of investment you want to attract, as each stream has its own opportunities and challenges.
You’re based in Manchester Technology Centre. What are some of the pros and cons of being a tech company based in Manchester?
Manchester has fantastic tech talent, which is essential for tootoot to attract in order to achieve our desired plans. However, there appears to be a shortage of young developers coming through the university and the wider education system that stay in Manchester.
This means we have to attract experienced, more expensive tech talent which costs the business more than it would. I also understand on the flip side that there is huge competition in the industry when it comes to tech talent currently, so it is a challenge as a young organisation to attract talent against larger more established organisations.
What’s on the horizon for tootoot?
We focus on impact at every stage of our journey; our focus for the next 12 months is to reach 1 million cumulative users. We are looking to introduce our products into the international market and secure further investment moving forward to fuel our development and future of sales of tootoot workplace.
As we grow, we aim to secure further funding and sponsorship within the education and sport sector. Our ultimate ambition is to be the market-leader in psychological safety and wellbeing software as a service in the workplace.
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