[Executive Edge] Klaseko pushes for online school enrollment
The startup Klaseko wants to solve a problem familiar to all: standing in lines for hours on end.
“These lines could either be at the registrars, cashiers, or bookstores,” Klaseko Co-founder and chief executive officer Carlo Valencia said.
In the age of the Internet and smartphones, Klaseko is bringing the enrollment process online. Valencia believes this has value for all stakeholders in education.
Klaseko, you see, was born out of a failed web development shop. Valencia had been struggling to sign up clients, as he was mostly relying on finding people through his own personal network. “What will you do when you run out of friends?” a mentor asked him.
Sure enough, amid the sales process for a prospective client, Valencia had an epiphany: he could continue to toil away in web development from contract to contract, or he could find a problem that actually needed solving, and then people would come to him, making scaling a lot easier.
Valencia found one with that prospective client: enrollment. Soon enough, the Bert Lozada Swim School would go on to become Klaseko’s first enterprise user. Though the Klaseko platform can possibly be used for other purposes like event registration, Valencia does not want to move too far from this original vision of simplifying enrollment.
An online enrollment process also gives schools the ability to monitor operations as a whole, which is particularly helpful for schools with many campuses. The move away from paper-based systems also mitigates the chances of fraud, such as local administrators underreporting the actual number of enrolled students.
Students would be assured of having a slot in the classes they need while schools could maximize their utilities to expand their reach, he explained.
Also, by moving enrollment to the web, school administrators will have an easier time converting people interested in their school into actual students. “This is very difficult to do with a traditional enrollment process,” Valencia shared.
The Klaseko team built their platform in stealth, which Valencia felt was a challenge in itself.
“This meant that we couldn't announce what we were building – and that made it difficult to find enough test users at the onset. Though we eventually did,” he said.
Since there was no existing analogue for Klaseko, Valencia and his team found clever ways to explain the purpose of their platform.
“We show them that the conveniences being experienced by customers of other industries, like airlines and hotels, should and can be experienced by the educational sector,” Valencia said.
Their first client, the Bert Lozada Swim School, helped them drive product development. The Klaseko team did many interviews with administrators from there and got plenty of user feedback on what would best work for them and their stakeholders.
Outside of the intrinsic motivation to create a great product, the Klaseko team also has a very clear financial incentive to listen to their users. Since their revenue model is transactional (they charge a fixed fee per completed enrollment), they need to make sure that their customers are satisfied with their service.
“If we don't make them happy, then the parents or students can simply go back and do things the old way,” Valencia said, as signing up via Klaseko is still only an option at this point (parents, should they choose, can still pay manually at the school).
“So the commitment to constantly improve our product is more than just a catchy phrase.”
The result is a product that is intensely focused on user experience (UX) design. As an example, all the information that a parent would need to know to enroll is presented right beside the actual enrollment form. This circumvents the need to have to switch back and forth between different pages.
The Klaseko team, which in addition to Valencia is led by Monique Granada Morales (chief marketing officer) and Mannix Chong (chief technology officer), is clearly an ambitious one. Their battle cry is 300 in 3, which Valencia said represents their goal to reach P300 million ($6.76 million) in revenue in 3 years.
They certainly have the market opportunity to reach that milestone. Most people would agree that there is something fundamentally broken about the enrollment process in the Philippines, and Klaseko, even in its earliest incarnation, looks more than ready to address this issue.
That the team came together when they did, made the product as fast as they could, and stand on the brink of an open market seems incredibly opportune. Morales calls this “cosmic alignment.”
Valencia, for his part, calls what led to this moment a “successful failure,” which is an idea that more aspiring entrepreneurs could benefit from embracing.
The ultimate goal of Klaseko is to help educators focus on their core skill. “If we can improve access to education and let schools focus on their core business, which is teaching, then our vision would have been fulfilled,” Valencia said. – Rappler.com
Rappler Business columnist Ezra Ferraz is also the chief content officer at ZipMatch, a tech company backed by Ideaspace Foundation, Hatchd Digital, IMJ Investment Partners, and 500 Startups. He brings you Philippine business leaders, their insights, and their secrets via Executive Edge. Connect with him on Twitter: @EzraFerraz