Last June 29, Startup Society Philippines hosted Startup Stories: EdTech Edition at Acceler8 Coworking, bringing together some of the country’s most exciting EdTech ventures and their leaders. Their mission: to transform the way we teach using technology and elevate people’s lives in the process. Here are their stories.
Lites Viloria, CEO of Edukasyon.ph
As part of her work at DOLE to solve youth unemployment, Lites Viloria discovered that most people graduating from high school were woefully unequipped with information about jobs, how to look one, what to expect, and what education is needed. She dreamed of putting all this information on a website, but didn’t have a chance to make it a reality until she met Henry Motte-Munoz in 2014. Henry graduated from the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School and shared the vision of solving the lack of information on academic opportunities in the country and overseas. At that time, he was looking for someone with solid experience in youth employment to lead his education startup.
Having observed people’s tendency to keep scholarships to themselves, the team initially just wanted to compile all the scholarship opportunities available and put them up on a website. But then they realized that to get a scholarship, a student actually had to know what to take up in school.
However, when they put all the educational opportunities on the site and went around the schools to get feedback, the students got overwhelmed by the mountain of information. Viloria had to sit beside them and ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up. One by one. With so many schools and students to talk to, she knew that they had to scale the idea. “How can I translate this to something on the website?” Viloria asked. “I can’t sit beside all these students.” After all, there are now 10,440 schools in the Phillippines.
Their solution was to create a guide on the site where students can look at the jobs with an explanation, typical salary, and what steps are needed to get that career. For example, what is an engineer, how much do they make? Then they would see what courses are needed to get that career and what schools offer those. Today, Edukasyon.ph has become the go-to source of information on local and international educational opportunities for high school students.
Carlo Valencia, Co-Founder of Klaseko
Two years ago, Carlo Valencia was 37 years old and living on borrowed cash. He had banked his future on developing websites for clients using WordPress and he was quickly running out of projects. His only hope left, his last hurrah, was a potential project to build a website for a local swim school. Little did he know that a single feature and a discussion with a friend would turn the tides of his life for good and impact many local schools.
The swim school in question wanted to lower the price. Instead of lowering the price, Carlo countered to retain the price but offered to automate their enrollment and just take 300 pesos for every enrollment made. At that time, he also happened to speak to a good friend, Monique Morales, who lamented how she had to line up for three days just to complete her child’s enrollment and then spend another day to buy the school supplies. “That was my lightbulb moment,” Carlo shared. He realized a pain that was not yet being addressed. Most schools were still using manual, physical processes for registration and payment.
With that realization, Carlo and Monique founded Klaseko. Klaseko is an online platform that allows schools to automate their enrollments and payments through the web. Using Klaseko, schools no longer need to build their own online enrollment systems. They just need to subscribe to the service, input their subjects into the system, and they will be able to immediately accept registrations online and receive payments via DragonPay or Paypal.
Floi Wycoco, CEO of TGFI
Floi Wycoco was struggling with impulse spending and burgeoning debt. Thinking it was a matter of income, he went abroad to earn more, but to no avail. With pressure from credit card collectors building, he knew that he had to change. At just the right moment, he attended a seminar on financial literacy and realized what he was missing.
With the knowledge he gained, he was able to start putting his personal finance back on track. However, he noticed a that most of the groups that discussed stocks and investing were centered on business and entrepreneurship. As a result, he started The Global Filipino Investors (TGFI) with the goal of spreading the advocacy of personal finance.
After being asked to conduct seminars in countries around the world like Malaysia and Australia, he realized a needed to scale the solution. “We can’t go everywhere at the same time so we just created an online education platform,” shared Wycoco.
They launched the TGFI Web Academy for people to learn about money, investments. They now have over 7000 users globally, 73% of whom are OFWs. The site has 40 online modules on investing and business with an average price range of P500 for a whole year of access, making it accessible to every Filipino, regardless of social status.
Sarah Gregorio Gozun, Founder of EnglishBox
Sarah Gregorio Gozun was teaching English to Koreans as a way to earn money while she was a university student. She wondered if it was possible to achieve complete English fluency without leaving one’s home country. While there were applications that allowed learners to study on their own, e.g. DuoLingo, and apps that provided opportunities to interact and immerse oneself like Skype, she realized that were no apps that handled immersion with structure.
As a way to address that need, she founded EnglishBox. In EnglishBox, learners select missions, role playing challenges, games with chat partners, and use video calls to complete the role play scenario. After completing missions, they get to see ratings and feedback for their improvement.
Agno Almario, Director of Adarna House Digital
Agno Almario of Adarna House Digital got frustrated with how an educator he met was simply taking pictures of children’s books and placing them in Powerpoint slides as a way to present them digitally. As Director of Digital Ventures at Adarna House, the country’s oldest publishing house for children’s books, he knew that there was a better way to bring Adarna’s stories to the digital age. Aside from developing digital Filipino content, they developed what was essentially an ebook reader but with a twist to make it more relevant to the classroom and more valuable to educators.
They built a way to add comprehension questions and a data gathering mechanism so that teachers can analyze how their students were reading the books and answering the comprehension questions. For the first time ever, educators have a way to quantify reading habits and analyze individual performance without having to do it all manually. “There are so many valuable things that you can do with the classroom data,” he said.