Students, teachers, and now companies worldwide are using a new Czech anti-bullying app

Three Brno high-school students, themselves victims of bullies, began to develop the app when they were just 16 years old

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas
Published on 31.08.2020 11:12 (updated on 31.08.2020)

czechinvest

Every fourth student in the world has experienced bullying. In fact, a recent study conducted by researchers from Masaryk University revealed that Czech kids are exposed to cyberbullying more frequently than their European peers.

The startup FaceUp.com, launched by a group of Brno high school friends in 2017, is designed to combat bullying, ostracization, and other social problems in Czech schools.

Called Nenech to být (Don’t Let It Be), the desktop and mobile application, in addition to helping victims of bullying, also give classmates who are aware of the problem but afraid to talk about it, an anonymous platform for reporting bullying outside of the school environment.

“Students, teachers, and parents can all use the application to report the suspicious or unpleasant behavior of someone around them,” says Jan Sláma, one of the founders of the startup, adding, “In addition to that, the application has an online chat function, so students can connect with a particular teacher in real-time.” 

The start-up’s product is used by more than three thousand teachers in more than 1,800 schools around the world

An enhanced version offers professional telephone support, class diagnostics, which help schools gain a basic overview of situations and relationships between schoolmates, and other functions, designed to help out school officials when it comes to bullying. 

Known abroad as FaceUp.com, the app is currently used by more than 3,000 teachers in countries all over the world including South Africa, Poland, and the United States. In just three years on the market, it has received over 5,800 notifications.

The founders of FaceUp.com, Sláma, David Špunar, and Pavel Ihm, are now 20 years old, but came up with the idea when they were just 16 and witnessing bullying firsthand.

“We had our initial ideas in primary school. We came up with applications and established a student development studio. We always found support in our surroundings. It’s possible to do business at any age; you just can’t be afraid to do it,” says Sláma.

The founders of FaceUp.com, Jan Sláma, David Špunar and Pavel Ihm, started doing business while still at school

In order to set their business plan in motion, Sláma and Špunar sought and received emancipation. With a strategic investment from Czech entrepreneur Jiří Hlavenka, they were able to establish FaceUp.com a year later.

The number of FaceUp.com users in Africa and the Americas has grown exponentially since 2019 — a school previously attended by Elon Musk, head of Tesla, and a one-time bullying victim reportedly uses the app.

The company used CzechInvest’s CzechDemo program to expand onto new markets, traveling to Asia to attend the Innovfest Unbound Singapore 2019 conference and the GESS conference in Dubai in February 2020 where it discovered another use for the app: as a tool for companies.

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CzechInvest’s foreign partner, the Expara accelerator in Singapore helped the team prepare for meetings with potential customers, honing pitches and presentations that there able to put to use in front of a number of foreign investors from all over Southeast Asia.

Two of the founders of FaceUp.com, Jan Sláma and David Špunar, with a sales representative for Singapore at the Innovfest Unbound Singapore 2019 conference

It was during these presentations that employees and employers pointed out to the young entrepreneurs that an anonymous communication channel through which they could report anything that bothered them in the workplace could also prove useful.

The FaceUp app for companies enables users of the application to draw attention not only to their colleagues’ psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, and impending burnout, but also to instances of non-compliance with company regulations and directives, discrimination, and physical aggression.

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The company continues its upward trajectory, opeing sales offices in seven locations throughout the Czech Republic, and gaining investment partner in Scio school.  In December last year, FaceUp.com accepted a challenge from CzechInvest and, together with nine other selected startups, presented its product in the CzechInvest Startup Challenge 2019. It was also nominated for the Creative Business Cup 2020 competition.