How STEM Punks bring business innovation to eCommerce

Discover how STEM Punks formulated their winning business strategy to help redefine eCommerce in the education industry.
· 23 October 2023 · 7 minute read
Michael Holmstrom, CEO of STEM Punks, posing on a beach with a group of children.

STEM Punks CEO Michael Holmstrom and students

STEM Punks is a Queensland-based education eCommerce business. Founded by a group of passionate educators, STEM Punks is determined to make science, technology, engineering and mathematics fun.

They do this by providing in-person and online classes that encourage students to think outside the box and develop important skills for the workplaces of tomorrow. The online component sees STEM Punks rely on a stable internet connection. As this enables them to teach students all around the world, from their premises in regional Queensland.

Michael Holmstrom, CEO of STEM Punks, shares how they built their business strategy around technology - a formula that crowned them the 2019 Telstra Business Awards Queensland Emerging & Energised Winner.

Smarter Business interviews Michael Holmstrom

Smarter Business: Can you tell us about the business inspiration behind STEM Punks?

Michael Holmstrom: I spent 20 years building startups and taking technology to market. And then I had kids. We looked at the school system and went, "Hang on. There's a lot we can do to improve how kids learn, innovate and be creative."


Rather than pointing fingers at the education system, we said let's just be part of it and see if we can help. This is how STEM Punks came into being what it is today.

- Michael Holmstrom, CEO of STEM Punks.


We grew from just doing things in the garage to doing things across the world. But our motto hasn't changed since day one - we're here to inspire tomorrow's innovators.


You deliver great educational content on your platform to students all over the world. Do you use any specific tech or software to create content and generate business ideas?

Michael Holmstrom: Technology is used all the way from product development to eCommerce through our online content offering. We rely heavily on immersive and interactive technologies like extended reality or artificial intelligence (AI) to develop educational content for students.

These bespoke education tools can be deployed to programmes and schools all across the world. This means everyone gets access to the same content and opportunities, whether it’s a private or public school. 

Technology is very important to the business, but with a big caveat that everything we do in terms of technology has to have an educational outcome.


We always start with the human in the centre. It's not just tech for tech's sake.

- Michael Holmstrom, CEO of STEM Punks.


We do video testimonials as surveys before and after each job. This is because we work with a lot of large industry clients who want to track the impact of what we do. We document the student's journey - how they come to us not knowing about STEM education - to being able to solve complex problems. Our clients love this because they get great video marketing content that they can use internally and externally. 


How has your business strategy and approach to tech changed since you launched?

Michael Holmstrom: The big thing for us, was when COVID-19 hit in 2020. At that point, we were already an online eCommerce business. We'd built up a lot of capabilities for online delivery, but we also still had a lot of reliance on face-to-face classes in schools, which just shut down. We said, “Look, if we’re teaching kids and teachers about innovation and how to be innovative, the last thing we can do is give up.” The best fuel for business innovation is necessity. At that point, necessity was as high as it's ever been in our business history.

We then went into a state of, “Okay, how can we turn this into a massive opportunity and a new business strategy?” We used the current climate as an opportunity to pivot and adapt. We started to improve our capability to build and develop online content. We even managed to get one of the MythBusters producers on board to create content with us.

Today, we've got technology that enables us to produce live streams, high-quality video, and high-quality content.


You're working from regional Australia and delivering created content to the other side of the world. How do you maintain connectivity and engagement?

Michael Holmstrom: Being online is very important to us. And paramount to our business strategy. People are engaging more and more with streaming channels, social media and eCommerce. And there’s an expectation for that experience to be seamless.

Connectivity is an essential aspect of our business, and our high-quality content relies on a stable internet connection. Audio and video remaining in sync is key to providing a great customer experience.

Because we rely on a stable internet connection, we’ve added business fibre broadband to our premises. We do live streaming and content production from our headquarters, and that connection has been brilliant and reliable. This is vital because you can talk about requiring internet speed, but reliability is even more important.

If you're live streaming across the globe, the moment your internet connection goes down or you experience syncing issues, you've lost your audience, and we can't have that.


We’re living in a world that expects reliable and fast internet speed. Having a backbone of internet connectivity is so important, not just to grow our eCommerce business but to maintain and grow our customer base.

- Michael Holmstrom, CEO of STEM Punks.


Do you have advice for anyone looking to pivot their business online?

Michael Holmstrom: First, you must understand your market and your products before pivoting.

The second thing is to ensure you have human relationships and then look at how to expand that online. Building a relationship online takes a lot of work. Once you've built a rapport, you can then use online tools to keep engagement ongoing - but you have to build a human connection first.

The third thing is to get out there, try things, and talk to people who have already done it. Don't be afraid, just do it. There's nothing better than talking to someone who's experienced success with eCommerce about what worked well and what didn't. This insight could save you thousands of dollars.


Michael and his team have found success by pairing STEM Punks’ eCommerce offering with strong internet connectivity to deliver education to students worldwide. This is why STEM Punks is an excellent example of how business innovation and technology can positively impact customer experiences. And create new and exciting opportunities.


If you’d like more information on how to boost your eCommerce business through business innovation, take a look at the below articles:


This article does not necessarily reflect the views of Telstra or its staff.

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