An Interview with Happy Homework Hut
Q1. Describe the company.
Business name: Happy Homework Hut
My name is Zack Dolan, and my product is called the Happy Homework Hut. It is a portable privacy screen that turns a desk into a cubicle. It stops cheating and copying during tests and can be used during normal school work to improve focus and concentration. Primary Schools & Secondary Schools have bought the Happy Homework Hut, as have parents for their children at home, so the idea is proving very good. It is particularly beneficial to those on the Autism Spectrum and those with ADHD.
Q2. How are you unique?
The Happy homework Hut is a portable privacy screen that can be used in the home or in a busy classroom by all students to help stop distraction and get more work done, especially those with attention difficulties such as ADHD, and those on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Happy Homework Hut gives every student at home or at school the opportunity to have his or her own private study space. I myself was diagnosed with ADHD & Aspergers, and this is my own business, developed to take part in the National Student Enterprise Programme in Carrigallen Vocational School, County Leitrim, organised by the Local Enterprise Office. Every year 22,000 2nd level students take part in the Irish National Student Enterprise Programme all across Ireland, and go on to compete at school, County and National level, to find out which student has developed the best business across a range of categories. I won my Student Enterprise county final, and represented County Leitrim in the Junior Category (1st years) at the National Final in the Croke Park Conference Centre in May, where I won the Best Innovation Award in the Junior Category. I was then invited to go on to the Late Late Show to talk to Ryan Tubridy about the Happy Homework Hut. Click on the Facebook link below to see the video.
Q3. Where did you get the idea from?
I got the idea from my Aunt in Canada who is a teacher. I was having great difficulty getting my homework done and it was taking about 3 hours to complete simple tasks. She suggested a screen might help me get my homework done faster. So I made my own to suit my desk at home using cardboard, some duct tape and a scissors, and that was the very first Happy Homework Hut. In September 2016, I started secondary school. My Business Teacher, Miss Edwards, talked to us about the Student Enterprise Programme and I decided to develop my own privacy cubicle into a professional product and maybe it would help other children just like me.
There is no other product like it available in the Republic of Ireland. It is lightweight, foldable and has lots of uses both at home and in the classroom. I measured school desks to get the dimensions right, and asked Printfix, a company in Sligo to design a prototype along with me. Owen Cartron is the owner, and he was brilliant in getting my ideas into a professional design. I came up with the name “’Happy Homework Hut’ because I thought students might feel happier doing their homework using my product. The logo came from thinking about people talking about the product, so I put the name ‘Happy Homework Hut’ into speech bubbles, and with a bit of design help that was the logo sorted. I came up with ‘The Happy Schoolwork Hut’ as well, to include mainstream students, and let everyone know this product works well at school and at home. If you look at the sides of the Hut, you will see that the sides are branded ‘Schoolwork Hut’, and the front is branded ‘Homework Hut’.
Q4. Has anybody noticed your business so far?
The Happy Homework Hut won first place in the Student Enterprise Programme competition at school and county level this past March. I represented Leitrim at the National Final and won the Best Innovation award in the Junior Category.
I was one of only four businesses asked to appear on the Late Late Show as part of their coverage of the National Student Enterprise Programme. Shannonside Northern Sound Radio interviewed me and everybody from the North West got to hear about the Happy Homework Hut. A conference on third level entrepreneurship (istep.ie) with delegates from across Europe hired me to speak on Student Enterprise and the Happy Homework Hut. I spoke at a conference in Waterford in June for Teacher Education Centre CEOs. That was great fun. I now have the Happy Homework Hut displayed at all 22 Education Centres. Bank of Ireland Business Town, (A BOI Business Promotion programme) invited me to have a display in Arvagh, Cootehill and Cavan Town. The Arvagh event is over already, and Bobby Kerr interviewed me there. Cootehill is in October and Cavan is in December. I competed at the Tullamore show in August and I won two third places in the Inventions section, and got cash prizes. So, since the Student Enterprise Final in May 2017, I have been busy trying to get exposure for the Happy Homework Hut.
Q4. Where are you based?
I live in rural County Leitrim in a small parish called Aughawillan, and attend Carrigallen Vocational School, where I have just started second year this September.
Q5. When was the company launched?
I started the Happy Homework Hut in January 2017, as part of the Student Enterprise Programme, and it all went from there.
Q6. Who are your target market?
My target market for the Happy Homework Hut is mainly primary schools. I found that there is a gap in the market for a product like mine that is both practical and useful at a fair price. I also found that people liked my product and I sold at a much higher rate then I had originally foreseen. I targeted schools that had ASD units in their school who could benefit most from the Happy Homework Hut and be able to work with more focus from a distraction free study and work environment. I sold to secondary schools for their study halls and their ASD units, so this makes my target market bigger, but I still think that most of my sales will come from primary schools. There are 38 primary schools in Leitrim, but there are 3262 primary schools in Ireland, and I have put together a list of each school with contact details, and it tells you which schools have ASD units as well. I delivered a talk to the Managers of the 22 Teachers Training Centres in Ireland at a National Conference in Waterford in June of this year, and gave each of them a sample Homework Hut.
Q7. Tell us about yourself?
My name is Zack Dolan, and I live in the countryside in County Leitrim with my mother and father, two sisters and an older brother. I like to spend my free time playing computer games and riding my bike around the local area. I have just started second year in Carrigallen Vocational School, and so far it is going okay.
The Happy Homework Hut project that I started earlier this year has been really good for me on a personal level, and made a big difference in my ability to speak with confidence in front of a large group of people. It was a lot of fun talking to Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show, and it seemed like everybody in Leitrim got to see it.
Q8. What are the long-term plans for your company?
I would like to see every school in Ireland have enough Happy Homework Huts for every class, so that lots of children can get the same benefits from the Hut that I did. The UK is our next closest market, and it would be brilliant to see the Happy Homework Hut in every UK school as well.
Q9. How do people get in touch with you?
You can Email me on email@example.com
Call me on +353 87 6486804. My Mom (Michelle) can answer any questions when I’m at school.
My website is www.happyhomeworkhut.com
Where you can actually buy your very own Happy Homework Hut!