And the winner of the Transforming Education Prize by TRECC and the School of Management Fribourg is…Schoolap, a platform that provides kids in the Congo with access to digital lessons and transforms the way teachers teach in schools. We were curious to get to know what has changed in the company’s life since the Seedstars Summit 2019; so we got in touch with Schoolap’s Co-founder and CEO Kanik Pascal.
Congrats on the victory! What does it mean for your to be part of the Seedstars community?
Thank you! I am really honored to have won this prize. I am humbled, full of pride and deep appreciation for the recognition, especially given all the challenges I had to overcome to get to this point as an entrepreneur. Seedstars helped me improve our business model through the growth program, learn how to present the business and attract investors’ attention, meet a lot of people and brilliant startups. I am so inspired by this great family-like community of extraordinary and crazy minds.
What’s the story behind your product and how did it all start?
I think entrepreneurs have a deep calling to do things that impact lives, and it’s a very nagging feeling that you can’t get rid of. And so in 2017, I felt this deep passion to do something significant for my country and continent in the education sector. Around September 2017, I decided to leave my well-paid job at Vodacom where I was in charge of business analysis to the managing director’s office. At that time, I tried to solve the first problem I faced in my former job - the lack of management information systems from groups of schools. Then, I launched the MIS functionality (Management Information Systems) before creating the first digital class.
What is your business model and how does it work?
We charge around $1 per student annually for the management information system and reporting, and we provide sponsorships for the digital classes (lessons for students and teaching materials for teachers). For the school fees payment gateway, we’ll take commissions on transactions.
How do you ensure the quality of the educational content on the platform?
We are working with the state Department of Education and Programs that produces the content and validates it for alignment with the government policies.
What makes your product unique in the market? Do you have any hacks or cool strategies from your experience when you managed to beat the competition and win more clients?
We are first movers in our market, and we have a unique distribution model where we target institutions and governments before we sell directly to schools. It allows us to scale fast. Also, we are the first to try to diffuse certified content from each government for teachers and students. It can’t be found on google or Wikipedia.
What was the most eye-opening experience or aha-moment for you and your team along the way?
After winning the prize, we met the President of Democratic Republic of Congo, who is truly supporting startups and he totally gets that startups are the ones that will create massive amount of jobs and help diversify the economy. For me, it was a humbling moment and realizing that our government stands behind startups, and it only motivated me more and gave me more energy to keep moving forward. We are lucky I think, to have this kind of support. But it came with the hard work and efforts, of course. This meeting let many things happen, and we are currently busy preparing to scale within the DRC with a population of 80 million!
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How do you oversee your growth in Democratic Republic of Congo? Do you plan to expand to other countries? If yes, which ones?
The DRC is a huge market, more than 80K schools and 25M students. We are now focused on the local market for the next two years before scaling to other French-speaking countries with the digital class model first, and later, with the data management model.
What is your vision of the Edtech industry in Africa for the next 5 years?
I believe that the gap in quality of education should be covered by the Edtech industry through innovative startups like us. Every child should have basic human rights to easily access the best education to kick-start their life path. It is possible to really transform and improve the education system in Africa through technology. As Schoolap, we want to ensure every child gets the best education possible, teachers are enabled to perform their role to the best of their abilities and that government has fact-based insights to make the right decisions and policies that benefit our people and push our economy forward. We believe in this wholeheartedly.