Don’t be afraid of going ‘back to school’

Posted On 29 Jan 2019
Comment: Off

Robin Knox (picture by

Robin Knox, co-founder of Boundary, decided to go back to the classroom for a BTEC 3 course and soon found out it was a wise move. Here he explains why…

They say that every day’s a school day and this couldn’t be more accurate when starting a business, especially if that business is in a field you haven’t come from.

I’ve had a diverse career background to date from nightclubs to paint balling to ‘point of sale’ and now intruder alarms – so it’s safe to say that I’m no expert in home security. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be in time.

As a founder, it’s essential when launching a business to ‘be a sponge’ and absorb all that you can about the industry you are attempting to disrupt. That’s exactly why I went ‘back to school’ to do my Tavcom BTEC 3 course on intruder alarms.

This course is designed to give alarm installers a grounding in legislation, calculations and wiring, and was full of information on everything including legislation on system design, the necessary requirements for the various grades of alarm system and a crash course on the different wiring designed to prevent tampering.

It was fantastic to learn more about the industry and particularly so about the physical installation of alarms. It’s clear that the wireless revolution has made issues like installation much less complex and it’s been said that wireless systems can afford better opportunities for fault and tamper diagnosis as well as security.

As well as opening my mind to crucial industry practices, this course enabled me to ensure that our own industry research hasn’t missed any key opportunities or areas, and provided insight into what new features we could build into our smart home intruder alarm to make it more user-friendly for alarm installers.

But the most engaging part was the feeling of being back in the classroom, learning not just the theoretical side of the industry but also the practical side. This course catapulted me back to doing Ohms Law calculations in physics! And was hands-on as we learned how to install devices and calculate battery consumption in a variety of different conditions.

Did you know that resistors are often placed into circuits to allow the system to detect a burglar attempting to short-circuit a sensor? Or that you could risk voiding your insurance should you forget to set your alarm and are burgled? (My advice? Check the fine print!)

If the answer is no then you’re not alone because neither did I. That’s what makes courses like these so valuable, especially for those starting right at the beginning. The BTEC 3 course has given me the knowledge to be able to talk confidently about the industry I’m in, and though I still have a lot to learn and will continue to do so, I’m up for the challenge.