New Investment: Linewize
Managing Internet access is hard — do you allow staff or your family to view the unfiltered internet, or block everything except for approved sites? It’s even harder at schools. On the one hand, you don’t want students accessing inappropriate content, or spending their time and the school’s bandwidth frivolously. On the other hand, you don’t want to restrict their learning opportunities, for example by blocking information on breast cancer. You also want to teach students how to think critically about their own activity so that when they leave the protective environment of the school they’ll have the skills to keep themselves out of harm’s way.
That’s where our latest investment, Linewize, comes in. Their internet firewall, management and control service is easy to use, administrated centrally and gives teachers discretion about what is or isn’t allowed. It runs on just about any hardware, integrates with Google Apps For Education, is really cost effective, and most importantly, help students learn from their choices.
Linewize have sold their open source firewall and cloud-managed service solution to over 200 New Zealand schools so far, and they have done so when their main competition, Network for Learning (N4L) provides a free alternative. Linewize are winning because their solution is easy to install and manage, and it gives teachers the control they need in the classroom. They are also pushing offshore and have good early traction, and our investment will allow them to accelerate these efforts.
Linewize prices start at $75 per month for tiny schools and increase with the number of students, with a lower price per student as the roll-size grows. The product is mainly sold through a 20-strong growing network of resellers, who also install and provide the first latter of support for the product and service.
Scott and Michael
Linewize was founded by Michael Lawson, CTO, and Scott Noakes, the CEO. I’d heard about the company originally through judging the Hi-Tech Awards in early 2014, and again for this year’s awards, where they were a finalist in they category. Scott and I talked at the Hi-Tech Awards gala evening and after a series of meetings and exchanges we came to an agreement on the 31st of May. Since then we’ve worked through the legal process we all eventually signed a week ago.
Our investment will primarily help to accelerate sales, particularly into international markets and looking to double their New Zealand market share.
Punakaiki Fund made identical investments into the two Linewize companies — Linewize Limited and Linewize Services Limited. The fund now owns 8.05% of each company and has agreed to invest another tranche, subject to fund raising, to bring the ownership up to 20%.