If there is one problem that unites parents all over the globe, (of course other than Covid) then it has to be gadget overuse or screen time control. With schools entering the homes through the screens of the kids, the amount of time spent by the students has simply skyrocketed.
Well, we can thank Craig Fernandes for coming to the rescue of the parents, with his innovative platform - Lock&stock.
Craig Fernandes, an Indian by nationality who is raised in Dubai created a platform “Lock&Stock'' that encourages students to lock their phones during their classroom hours in exchange for rewards. Currently, it has 55k registered students on the application from over 500 schools, universities, and institutions in the UAE.
It started during Craig’s university days. One day, he was attending an Economics class and he noticed an interesting phenomenon i.e. not a single student was actually looking at the professor. Instead, each and everybody in that class had their heads bent downwards towards a screen, be it mobile, laptop, or tablet.
So, he did some research and found astonishing numbers which say that almost 3 in 5 students are addicted to their mobile phones, and roughly a quarter of classroom time is spent on a digital device for non-educational purposes. It was evident that this was a real societal problem, plaguing universities, schools, and colleges the world over, and it was that day that Lock&Stock was born.
“The groundwork for Lock&Stock began before I graduated from University”
Suddenly, his life went from partying with friends 4 days a week converted to skyping with the development team and drawing up designs and process flows.
The launch of Lock&Stock came with a lot of hardship and constant work.
Lock&Stock from its inception has currently more than 25,000 registered students on the application, from about 415 schools, universities, and institutions in the UAE. It is the largest student discount platform in the UAE.
“Our strategy for growth is innovation and problem solving”
For market penetration, Craig found if a brand is able to amaze their customers and build a beautiful experience, organic growth will eventually come.
After their offers platform gained tremendous traction, they launched the jobs platform, which connected students with prospective internships and work opportunities, thus helping combat youth unemployment.
After that, they also launched the scholarship platform, which connected students with guaranteed scholarships and fee waivers at universities, thus helping combat rising tuition costs.
The model is simple and easy-going. Brands want to connect with young, millennial customers, and students want to stretch their allowances as much as they can, and Lock&Stock gamified it. They allowed students to utilize these discounts after they lock their phones and collect in-app currency called keys, which makes it all the more special.
The biggest challenge for any young entrepreneur in general, and what was certainly the case for Craig as well was maintaining self-belief.
Craig says - Make no mistake - it’s hard
The basic concept for Lock&Stock at launch was providing students with offers and discounts in exchange for locking their phones, so naturally, they had to reach out to brands and businesses to list on our platform.
So, the first and foremost challenge was to reach out to them.
They called over five thousand brands, to maybe get two hundred meetings, to eventually end up with twenty-four brands that agreed to list on the platform at launch. This became much more challenging because all these things were before launch and every single day Craig wondered whether it would actually all pan out or not.
Will students actually lock their phones? Will the brands pull out before launch? Will it always be this tough?
Every day was a challenge to maintain his self-belief in what he was building. However, Self-belief was motivating as well at some point for Craig.
He thinks as an entrepreneur, the most valuable asset that one can have, stronger than any degree or IQ, is will power and motivation.
Craig and his team were so confident that they were building something that was actually necessary, something that students really needed, that they didn’t let the doubts or the naysayers stop them.
Back in 2017, Craig really wanted to sign Burger King, but for some reason, they were not answering the calls.
So Craig personally went to their office, sat in their reception, and waited for about two hours until the marketing manager finally came out for a bathroom break and he pitched him.
“They still didn’t come on board, but it didn’t matter. Nothing was going to stop us”
Their initial twenty-four brands at launch turned into almost one hundred about three months later, which became almost three hundred sometime after that, and is today over six hundred brands that list on Lock&Stock for their students. More than any of that, today Lock&Stock has resulted in over 650 years of total time spent offline by our student user base. This makes Craig really proud.
Lock&Stock spent a lot of time and focus on enhancing its gamification model. In mid-2020, they launched their ‘Student of the Week’ competition, which rewarded the students who locked their phones the most in a given week.
They also distributed over a thousand dollars in prizes on a weekly basis to the best-performing students. What they have found is that, when they are trying to encourage specific behavior, such as keeping students offline, competition drives great results. Further fleshing out this model is what they are focusing on in 2021.
If the 2010s were the decade of cloud computing, Craig thinks the 2020s are going to be the decade of artificial intelligence. Now, this doesn’t mean Skynet or C3PO but rather using prediction algorithms to crunch large volumes of data to deliver enhanced and customized customer experience, at lightning speed.
This could be in the realms of voice, chat, display, or content. He thinks this is going to change the way the world operates, and if your brand or business isn’t thinking about this, then you’re going to be left behind very soon.
To young start-ups, the most relevant advice I could give is to only work on something that you truly believe in. Entrepreneurs are considered the rockstars of the 21st century, but what doesn’t get mentioned is that building a startup is extremely challenging, and if you don’t deeply believe in the problem that you’re solving, save yourself the time and quit while you’re ahead.
To connect with the audience, the major focus of the platform is building a great product. They do this through reliable tech, gamification, content like offers, jobs, and scholarships, and to cap it all off with the proper design.
Due to the awesome product they build, In May 2020, they received an email on their company address from an anonymous user. In it, she said that she loved Lock&Stock because Lock&Stock was the reason why she was able to concentrate and cover three-quarters of her exam material. This email made the whole team smile.
Such motivation from the audience and appreciation of the hard work made them work even harder and continued making the platform even better.
Craig also spoke at a conference in October 2020, and after his panel discussion, a man approached him and thanked him. He began to explain how he had actually read an article about Lock&Stock some time prior, how he had recommended the app to his children, and how his children were now locking their phones through Lock&Stock during dinner time.
Also, to connect with an audience various business owners need to understand Gen Z and post-millennial generation, design is paramount. Gone are the days when content is all that mattered, or when you could get away with solely pricing as a form of marketing. The most recent generation has grown up in an era of YouTube and Facebook, of Instagram and Netflix.
They need to be amazed, from start until the end, and if your business or product doesn’t do that, they won’t stay very long.
As 2020 was a completely disruptive year, it was challenging to encourage students to stay away from mobile phones. This was expected.
Contrary to what most observers believed, 2020 has actually been a watershed year for Lock&Stock. As activity and life began to transition more into the online space, their activity actually began to surge, as a larger number of our users needed more incentive to stay off their phones.
That’s the impact they had in 2020, and hopefully for a long time to come.