By Becky Reuber
Special to The Globe and Mail

Firm succeeds by pitching learning tool directly to professors.

How do you sell a new product to large organizations?That was the challenge facing Mike Silagadze and Mohsen Shahini when they co-founded Top Hat Monocle Inc. in 2009.

Mike Silagadze and Mohsen Shahini of TopHat Monocle

Mike Silagadze and Mohsen Shahini of TopHat Monocle

Started in Waterloo, Ont., and now based in Toronto, Top Hat Monocle sells a learning platform to improve the classroom experience. Mr. Silagade and Mr. Shahini believed that students and professors would immediately see value in their classroom tool, but how could they convince universities to take a chance on it?

The idea for Top Hat Monocle stemmed from the founders’ own university experiences.

“Mike had recently graduated from university and Mohsen was completing his PhD, and they had not been satisfied with their classroom experience,” says Andrew D’Souza, Top Hat Monocle’s chief operating officer.

“They just weren’t engaged enough with the course material in many classes. Working as a teaching assistant, Mohsen also knew how difficult it was for professors to gauge how much of the material the students were picking up.”

What turned this idea into a business prospect was the realization that most students carried mobile devices

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