As you know, Signpost has been around for quite some years, although its name had not always been Signpost. It all started in the year 2000 when StudentStart.be was launched. It actually concerned a student portal website which served as meeting point for the Flemish students. In a very short time, the website grew into Belgium’s biggest student website. StudentStart also organised surveys on a regular basis to stay in touch with the student world. One of these surveys revealed that many students had obtained the software they used illegally. However, all these students indicated that they were indeed prepared to purchase the software, but at special prices for education purposes, as the full price was simply too expensive. Up to this day, it is still one of Signpost’s main objectives to provide students with the necessary software at the most affordable price.
FIRST SUPPLIER OF CHEAP AND LEGAL SOFTWARE IN BELGIUM
In 2002, the organisers of StudentStart started negotiating with Microsoft. The objective of this meeting was to offer legal software to students at a greatly reduced price. At that moment, StudentStart succeeded in converting the impossible into reality: Microsoft products were made available at an education fee. StudentStart was the first and only entity in Belgium that obtained these distributor rights. Not much later, Signpost BVBA was founded, which would, from that moment on, focus on the distribution of affordable and legal software in the education sector.
About a year later, in 2003, Academic Download was launched. Again, this was a first, but this time it went worldwide. Academicdownload.com was in fact the first download website in the world which provided many software titles for the education sector in the form of downloads. It concerned the software of Microsoft, Adobe, Panda, Magix, etc. Until today, more than 250,000 users have already used these download facilities.
total solutions for laptop projects in schools
The demand for affordable IT related tools in the education sector increased rapidly. In addition to software, Signpost also started offering total solutions for laptop projects in schools. Signpost took care of the sales, the delivery, and the after-sale services at very competitive prices. An in-house team of technicians guaranteed the service and repairs of the laptops. The laptops were either distributed in projects, in close cooperation with the school, or via the Academic Shop webshop directly to individual students and teachers. This service model is still very popular today and increasingly finds its way in several forms of education.
Before Signpost could realise such projects, some partnerships had to be created. So, in the early years, Signpost started to cooperate very closely with hardware manufacturer HP. In this cooperation agreement, Signpost is still an HP GOLD Preferred Partner for the education sector. HP also certified our technicians to carry out the repairs themselves. In that way, students and teachers who purchased a device via Academic Shop were sure that they could enjoy the quality of HP products, including the after-sale services.
broadband internet connection
Internet has gained an enormous use in the education sector, and Signpost could not stay behind on this evolution. Students and lecturers undeniably spend a lot of time on the internet. Signpost wanted to find an appropriate answer to this evolution, and succeeded. At the end of 2003, Signpost started offering broadband internet connections (ADSL) to pupils, teachers, students and lecturers. And this for a mere EUR 25 per month. This internet solution was offered under the name of Academic Broadband. The initiative proved to be a huge success. The concept had an enormous impact and the ADSL user base grew by about 1,000 subscribers per month.
From that moment on, Signpost has been expanding more than ever before into a leading organisation which formed a bridge between the education sector and the business sector. We kept looking for innovative initiatives and possibilities to further modernise the education sector at affordable prices. After some time, the overwhelming success of the ADSL story was passed on to a sister company, viz. FullTelecom. In this way, Signpost could focus more on software and hardware distribution.
Nevertheless, in 2011, another great initiative was launched. Academic Mobile went live. This was a new mobile telephone solution for the education sector, allowing schools to save up to 300 euros per year on mobile telephone invoices. Calling and texting was possible for only 5 eurocents. A mobile data subscription of 2 GB was also available for only 12.50 euros per month.
Signpost has kept on growing. Today, the focus mainly is on software and hardware in the education sector. At this moment, Signpost also has, exclusively, the best offer for Adobe in the education sector. A competitive price for a volume licence, but also the possibility to offer home licences to students and teachers: a unique concept.
Bring Your Own Device projects are also gaining in importance in the education sector. Signpost is the market leader in Belgium. Our long-lasting expertise and service model make a huge difference. Schools that have made this big step, never want to get back to the 'old times'. This is thanks to the perfect follow-up by Signpost and its staff members. In addition, our portfolio has been expanded with LENOVO.
Moreover, Microsoft’s volume licence is still essential for schools. However, it is a big cost for schools for which Signpost has also found a solution. By adding great extras to the volume licences, we can make an even bigger difference than before. Also, our new concept, Academic Software, is a success. Pupils pay a certain fee per trimester and have access to a portal where they can download various software products. In addition, the teachers also enjoy this software, for free of course. And, last but not least, the huge cost price of the volume licence is abolished for the schools.
And in this way, every day, everybody at Signpost keeps looking for new innovative ideas to make software even more accessible and affordable for schools, teachers, students, parents, etc.