Bryan Otis is the CEO and co-founder of Intand, a technology communication tools company for schools. Bryan currently lives in Bellevue, Wash., and enjoys cycling, sailing and traveling to various wine regions of the world. Known to ask complete strangers, “What do you use to schedule your time?” Bryan would consider it a successful day to have eaten sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He loves speaking with people about Getting Things Done, a book by David Allen, and when not at Intand, can be found spending time with friends and family—usually over a large, home cooked meal. Here he dishes about what makes Intand’s Tandem such a great way to get things done, and answers a few questions about scheduling time for schools—or anything else.
Victor: Why did you create Tandem for Schools?
Bryan: This event management system was created to solve athletics and transportation scheduling problems at Bellevue Christian School (BCS). The system needed to be web-based and accessible for parents, students, teachers and administrators. Conflict management was the biggest feature request along with the ability to fully service and track athletic field trips for transportation. Some days scheduling was so hard that everyone developed an acute case of chronophobia—the fear of time itself!
Victor: What does the name mean?
Bryan: Our company name, Intand, is short for “in-tandem”, because that’s how we like to view what we do here. We work side-by-side with you to make your job or life easier. And we also used this image to name our product, Tandem for Schools. A tandem bike harnesses the power of two riders, moves in one direction, is more efficient than a single-rider bike and is fun! Technology tools should work like this too, giving you time to do other important things, like connect with people and enjoy your job a little bit more.
Victor: What is it? Who created it?
Bryan: The first version was created at Bellevue Christian School by the BCS IT team. Other schools started finding out about it and quickly the popularity rose, so fast in fact that members of the team purchased the product from the school to start Intand.
Victor: What does it do? What are the benefits?
Bryan: Tandem for Schools eliminates event scheduling conflicts, communicates event information in real time, and helps schools make money for their budgets through online facility rentals of idle taxpayer-funded resources by approved community groups.
The benefits our customers rave about the most are happier parents—because they know where their kids are supposed to be and when), happier staff—because the system is easy to learn, it eliminates facility conflicts, and the technology team doesn’t have to deal with it) and happier taxpayers—because the school and district can make money by easily renting out idle facilities online.
Victor: How is it unique from other similar products/services? What companies do you see as in the same market?
Bryan: There are other event scheduling solutions in the market, but most focus on a more narrow area, such as athletics only, or calendar publication only, or they are not specific to the needs of K-12 institutions. Operations maintenance solutions can schedule facilities and equipment, but only Tandem for Schools offers end-to-end event and facility scheduling, public-facing customizable calendars and real-time communication features for subscribers. Our new online Facility Rentals feature makes it easy for community groups to rent school or district facilities in just a few clicks online and easy for internal staff with a “one touch” process. No one else that we know provides this level of friction-free functionality.
Bryan: The initial version of Tandem for Schools was built in the fall of 2003 and it was built “by a school for a school.” People very familiar with technology/applications in schools completed the first version. A long-time athletic director and transportation director helped the development team spec out the first set of features, many of which are still in use today. We never intended it to be sold as a separate product, but we got so many requests from other schools that it just made sense to spin it off.
Victor: Where did it originate? Where can you get it now?
Bryan: It originated at Bellevue Christian School in the fall of 2003. You may get it now online at www.intand.com or by calling us at 866-685-3449.
Victor: How much does it cost? What are the options?
Tandem for Schools is available in two versions, Standard and Plus. Tandem for Schools Standard is priced at $599 per school for a full year subscription, and Tandem for Schools Plus is priced at $999. The main difference between Standard and Plus is that Plus includes the Facility Rentals feature for external community groups and the Event Request feature for internal staff. Plus also has the Transportation feature for scheduling transportation for events like field trips.
We offer discounts for customers who pre-pay for multiple year subscriptions and we offer a satisfaction guarantee.
Victor: What are some examples of it in action?
Bryan: Your readers should check out: Findlay City Schools (fcs.intand.com); Katonah-Lewisboro Union Free School District (klufsd.intand.com) and Bellingham Public Schools (bham.intand.com) to name a few.
Victor: Who is it particularly tailored for? Who is it NOT for?
Bryan: It is tailored for k-12 schools and school districts of any size.
It will work well for Community Colleges or individual departments like athletics, drama or music in 4-year universities.
It is not suited as an admissions or student report card or learning management system. It is designed as a complement to those systems.
Victor: Alright, now on to more philosophical issues. What are your thoughts on education these days?
Bryan: With the budget stress that districts are under, we believe that saving a dollar in administration and putting that same dollar back to work in the classroom is our number one priority. We have the finest educational system in the world. Let’s keep it that way and improve it at every level with systems like Tandem for Schools!
Victor: What sort of formative experiences in your own education helped to inform your approach to creating Tandem for Schools?
Bryan: When growing up, my brothers and I were involved in many sports and after school activities. Like many families, it was all kept on a paper calendar. Further, when I got to college, every freshman was given a day planner to help them stay organized, remember things and get to class on time. Looking at how busy my family was, or how busy I was personally, most of it was centered around school or sporting events. All of these events were written down on a paper calendar. Tandem was created for people like me, families like mine; active, busy families, with students at a k-12 school or college. It provides them with what information they need about the school events and games they are involved in. Further, for families or people who use a personal digital calendar, like Outlook or Google calendar, Tandem gives them a place to subscribe to calendar feeds of the groups or teams they care about. I know my family would have used it when we were in school.
Victor: How does Tandem for Schools address some of your concerns about education?
Bryan: School budgets are under attack and districts desperately need to do more with less. Now administrators and teachers have fewer people, less money, less support, less time to get more work done. System like Tandem for Schools reduce phone calls, require less tech support, require no hardware, take less money to run. And make you a better educator or administrator. And with Facility Rentals, schools can MAKE money for their budgets!
Systems like this reduce a parent’s frustration because now they know what is going on and when. This system is a parents dream because it notifies you when events you care about get scheduled or cancelled or changed. We call it “push technology’. Students love it too, and school and district staff are less frustrated and more informed. What’s not to like about that?
Victor: What is your outlook on the future of education?
Bryan: Students entering into our schools are brighter and more motivated than ever before. As “digital natives,” they expect more and they need more on the technology side. Integrating technology into education is a passion of Intand. We live, eat, breathe and sleep how we can make our product better to make the lives of educators easier. In today’s world, students need educators that have a passion to teach with an understanding heart. More “ah ha” moments will occur as a result. Our vision is “excellent communication, optimized resources and strong communities.” Tandem for Schools helps makes this vision real.
Victor: What else can you tell educators and other leaders in and around education about the value of Tandem for Schools?
Bryan: Most people don’t realize how affordable this product really is. It’s an incredible deal at any level. We’ve had PTAs raise the money for a Tandem subscription because they know how important strong communication is!
Victor: What makes you say that?
Bryan: Ask your school’s tech department or any custom development firm what it would take to write over 1 million lines of code at today’s systems development rates. It makes no sense to develop this type of product internally. You get to enjoy the feature set at a small fraction of the cost and it’s highly customizable to your environment, including school logos and colors and embedding into existing websites. Another overlooked feature is its tight integration into existing email clients like Outlook. Any group of events can be automatically embedded into a parent or staff or student’s personal digital calendar and changes are updated immediately. We designed the text messaging feature for rural areas and email notifications for parents on the go.
Anything else you care to add or emphasize?
Bryan: This is one of those things that makes schools say “how did we live without it” once they have Tandem for Schools. It’s just getting the word out to everyone that doesn’t have it that is challenging. Thank you for the opportunity to tell our story here – we hope all your readers and subscribers will visit www.intand.com soon!
Victor Rivero tells the story of 21st-century education transformation. He is the editor-in-chief of Edtech Digest, a magazine about education transformed through technology. He has written white papers, articles and features for schools, nonprofits and companies in the education marketplace. Write to: [email protected]