EduSpaze has been at the forefront of edtech since last year and recently announced their second cohort. Based in Singapore, the latest batch has seven early-stage edtech companies from Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, and The Philippines, from over 200 applicants across 30 countries.
One thing we’ve come to realise in the last few months is that TikTok is inevitable and also, edtech is no longer optional. Certainly, the education ecosystem has been overexposed to a barrage of tech solutions as a result of the pandemic. As current solutions are more “tech” than “ed”, EduSpaze is putting a greater pedagogical focus on product evaluation for the second cohort.
To better understand how they plan to implement this, we wanted to speak to their new cohort to better understand what their business and what they expect to get out of the accelerator.
Batch 1 from EduSpaze share their thoughts on edtech
We had a chance to speak to three of the founders from the seven startups in the accelerator programme. We spoke to Angela Chen, co-founder and CEO of Eskwelabs, which is an online data upskilling school operating in the Philippines. We also had a chance to speak to Yvonne Soh, co-founder and CEO of Noodle Factory, an AI-powered chat platform that is built for scalable and personalised learning, and last, but not least we spoke to Alamanda Shantika, Founder and President Director of Binar Academy, which mentorship and non-formal education to aspiring tech engineers across Indonesia.
Why did you apply to join EduSpaze?
Angela Chen (AC): Eskwelabs is an online data upskilling school operating in the Philippines and founded in May, 2019. EduSpaze helps early stage edtech startups go to market, accelerate their growth, and co-innovate with other players in the ed-tech space, which is perfect for the stage Eskwelabs is at right now.
Yvonne Soh (YS): Noodle Factory is an AI-powered chat platform that is built for scalable and personalised learning. Our solution is targeted for higher education and corporation learning. The EduSpaze programme provides great insights into the educational landscape in the region, and also, the opportunities and network for EdTech startups to scale. We wanted to join EduSpaze because we knew it would equip us with what we needed to be able to grow and make an impact on education and learning.
Alamanda Shantika (AS): We built Binar Academy with the goals to revolutionize learning experience, make education more accessible, and create content that matches industry needs. It was challenging because we did not have a formal background in education or prior experience in the education industry. Hence, we applied to Eduspaze because of its strong network of global education experts, thought leadership in the edtech space, and track record of nurturing edtech to scale across the APAC region.
In Indonesia, all schools are forced to shut down and implement distant learning. This has caused a disruption in the traditional way of teaching, causing people’s mindset towards online learning to change in a positive manner.Alamanda Shantika, Founder and President Director of Binar Academy
What do you hope to gain out of the EduSpaze accelerator?
AC: Eskwelabs is scaling up the ways in which we inspire, equip, and connect people to the future of work through data skills in 2021. And we’re excited to work with Eduspaze to bring the unique upskilling approach we developed for the Southeast Asia local context to more people in the region.
YS: One of our key value propositions is that we enable anybody, with or without technical skills, to instantly automate adaptive tutoring, administrative tasks and answering student FAQs, ALL with the click of a button. As educators ourselves, we understand that one constant headache is having to spend a lot of time to “repurpose” existing content into different formats, every time we want to use a different media for teaching and engaging our students. In fact, that is why we set about creating Noodle Factory. We built an AI engine that could automatically curate existing content (instantly) into conversations, so that educators like ourselves could engage their learners 24/7 via AI chat.
We know there is so much more for us to improve and uncover. We hope to learn how to effectively address the challenges faced by educators today with technology. We also believe that through the EduSpaze accelerator, we will gain expertise, opportunities and resources that can help bring us to the next level.
AS: During the program, we hope to gain insights on education’s best practices. This will help us validate and further develop our methodology, technology, and business. We also hope to collaborate with fellow edtech companies in the program,
What is most exciting about edtech in the region right now?
…we see the adult upskilling and lifelong learning segment gaining traction as the post-pandemic job market exposed the demand for new types of talents in the digital economy.Angela Chen, co-founder and CEO of Eskwelabs
AC: EdTech is a new frontier for innovation, especially post COVID. While there will continue to be activity in the K-12, we see the adult upskilling and lifelong learning segment gaining traction as the post-pandemic job market exposed the demand for new types of talents in the digital economy. In the adult learning space, we have 2 innovations that were launchd roughly around the same time in 2011: Massive open online courses (MOOCs), and coding bootcamps, partly as a response to the last economic recession. Now we have the opportunity to build on top of these existing solutions, and create more relevant ones for the regional context.
YS: As we all know, everything is being disrupted right now, and it is definitely the case for education, and even more so, for higher education and corporate learning. In the region, technology is widely embraced. So, coupled with the increasing need for digitalisation of education, as well as the need for greater accessibility and equality, it is a very exciting time as there are countless opportunities for EdTech companies to innovate to meet these needs.
AS: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, educators and learners around the world were forced to shift to online learning. In Indonesia, all schools are forced to shut down and implement distant learning. This has caused a disruption in the traditional way of teaching, causing people’s mindset towards online learning to change in a positive manner. As a result, new edtech companies with innovative solutions started to pop up, making the space more competitive and providing consumers with more options.
During the beginning of the pandemic, the Government of Indonesia started a pre-work program in which all of the training contents are provided by edtechs. Furthermore, the Government’s initiative to increase connectivity across the Archipelago has paved the way for edtechs to thrive in the country. No longer is education only available to the privileged few. As long as a student has a connection to the internet, even if he is in the middle of the jungle, he will have access to education. We believe that this will also happen in developing countries across the region as it is easy to replicate. As long as Governments increase connectivity there can be no more reason for anyone to be without an education.
What’s next for your company?
AC: Eskwelabs believes that connection drives learning outcomes. We have been able to reach 3,000 learners and worked with 100 companies to build data talent so far, thanks to our community learning approach. We also have built a strong team with values like being learner-first. We are now gearing up to launch a new lifelong learning product called the Data Club. It will extend the industry-designed, mentor-led project-based learning Eskwleabs offers to a wider audience at different skill levels beyond those who are looking for new careers. We are excited about what this means for our mission of democratizing data skills beyond the handful of elite tech jobs to include those who are freelancers, stay-at-home moms, and those without university degrees.
YS: We’ve always believed that technology should make lives better, and we hope to be able to positively impact more and more lives as we grow. We are planning to go-to-market outside of Singapore, in various countries across the region, and beyond. On the technology front, this would include multi-language support and integrations with complementary platforms. And on the ‘softer side of things’, we are really focused on creating a seamless and enjoyable experience for our customers, so look out for Noodle Factory 2021!
AS: We are excited to launch our mobile app that will train students across the country on digital skills including product and engineering courses. The mobile app will help our students to maximize their most valuable asset; their time. Students can learn while on the go and become digital savvy with just a press of a button. We hope the unique learning experience we offer will help them unleash their potential and evolve to become world-class talents. Rather than being hooked on social media, our aim is to eventually enable students to become hooked on learning.