In 2021 I left the year expecting more unpredictable times ahead. And damn, was I right! In past years we’ve rallied together to overcome a global adversary. This year feels like we’re all being pulled in different directions against so many adversaries. We live in a time where countries provide guides on what to do if your neighbouring country invades. We’ve seen economic crashes, heating crises and more prime ministers than you can shake a stick at.
Here at SMILE, we’re ending the year with some positive vibes…
Last year we had one SMILE baby. This year we’re leveling up and had two! Please don’t ask us to keep up this pattern though…
A pair of promotions
It’s not just babies coming in pairs, either. James has been producing stellar work and has become a true leader of our dev team. And if you work with SMILE, you undoubtedly know Jon – the friendly face of SMILE. Both received promotions this year. I can’t stress enough how proud I am of this team – just an incredible bunch to be a part of.
Smashed it, James & Jon.
Back to physical events
Getting back to physical events feels like a hot topic right now. We even did a webinar on it.
At the start of 2022, I was skeptical. But we attended several conferences in real life this year. And we even sponsored our very first award at the College Marketing Network awards. It was a total blast and I’m looking forward to more of that next year.
Congratulations, Exeter College.
We met Chelsey in real-life
This year it feels like we’ve moved out of our Covid-ridden-era. And come good on past promises of WFA (Work From Anywhere) and providing a great work/life balance.
If we’re honest, there were rumours that Chelsey was just a clever artificial intelligence avatar joining Zoom calls and answering service desk tickets… Hired in the pandemic, no-one had ever met Chesey in real-life, especially with her living about 5 hours away from most other team members. With restrictions eased, we all came together in Dublin for a few days over the summer. So I can confirm that Chelsey is a real person. It was a fab couple of days with the team.
Top of the mornin’ to ya’, team.
We’ve been working in the education sector for over 10 years now. Without a doubt, Prospectus+ is the most exciting thing I’ve ever worked on. It takes all of what we know about the sector, and sprinkles some SMILE magic onto it to create something so easy to use. We’ve put our heart and soul into this one, and I think it really shows. Expect to see more on this next year.
Keep on saving the world one prospectus at a time, Prospectus+
Helping students apply for university
This one feels like a real theme for the year. First we worked with UCAS on a high-profile piece around “real entry grade data”. And then we worked with the CAO, pitched to us as the “Irish equivalent of UCAS”. They ended up being one of our pilots for Prospectus+. We helped them create a tool that allows any prospective student to create a personalised shortlist of courses from every university in Ireland. Both of these projects had amazing feedback. It’s really helped us to understand who we are.
HappyPress grew up, and gained a Satellite
Our infrastructure is used by universities and colleges across the country. It’s been developing nicely, and it has some great features. We decided it was time to give it a lick of paint and treat it like its own thing.
Building on that success, we have to rewind to 2020, when we built a website in two weeks. Since then, we’ve been trying to figure out how to replicate that speed. In 2021 we tried to do something in this arena, by supporting Edupack. And whilst that ultimately failed, we learned so much that we were able to create a service where universities can create websites in three weeks for a low fixed-cost. We think it’s game-changing for university microsites.
Time for blast-off, Satellite.
From SMILE, you can expect much more from us in the digital-first prospectus space. And I hope to bring the team together even more next year. But otherwise, who the heck knows anymore. I feel like I should predict 3 new prime ministers and for the UK to return to the EU. I bet that doesn’t even sound that impossible to you. But then again, nothing is impossible. And for a year filled with negativity, those are the vibes I want to leave you with. Nothing is impossible.
Show me the impossible, 2023.
The successes of 2022 were overshadowed by the loss of a great man. He was my teacher, mentor, and friend. He was instrumental to SMILE. It simply would not exist without him. I am eternally grateful to him, and I miss him very dearly. RIP Bal.