Hi, thank you for doing this interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m an ex-scholar of Japanese government scholarship and a degree holder in psychology from Tokyo University. My life was transformed drastically because I scored 11 As in SPM and that helped me to secure the scholarship to study in Japan. Hence, I’m very passionate about helping students with their studies to secure a great future.
What inspired you to set up Translife Education?
Translife Education was established back during MCO last year to help students study from home. The most important factor that drove me to setup Translife Education was to gather the best teachers in Malaysia to teach all the students around Malaysia. Only through online learning will students get the opportunity to learn from the best teachers in the country. In the past, many students who are in remote areas didn’t have access to the great teachers with distance proving to be a large barrier. By leveraging on technology, now all the students can learn from the best teachers in Malaysia we recruit. This is not a temporary solution to deal with the current pandemic situation but a long-term one to the issue of lacking good teachers around the country. The timing was simply perfect for us to introduce the best teachers to the students.
When you came up with the idea, what were your first steps? How did you attract teachers, parents and students at the beginning of Translife Education?
The idea of conducting online tuition classes was born on 25 March 2020 and I spent 6 consecutive days working 20 hours on average to set up the new platform. As this was a new venture, we had no resources at all initially. I only knew two teachers who are best at their respective subjects. 1 teacher was my tuition teacher who helped me improve my Bahasa Melayu from C to A+ in just a few months. Another teacher was my good friend who is a well-known English coach who not only teaches school kids but also top corporate executives. Apart from securing the best teachers, I set up the whole website system by doing self-research through trials and errors. Not only preparing the website system, but I also planned, prepared, and executed all the marketing strategies and materials in 6 days. I took massive actions to set up the business using lean start-ups methods. Because of our quality teachers and effective marketing strategies, parents and students felt attracted to try out our seminars and classes. From our first online lesson which had only 220 students on 5 April, we grew to 17k students after we launched Online SPM Ceramah in May. In short, we focused on securing the best teachers and setting up the best learning platform.
Did you face any challenges along the way that made you change your roadmap?
There were a lot of unforeseen incidences that happened along the way which caused us to refine our service and product offers. Most of the major changes were made because we received complaints from parents and students.
What innovations did you bring into your product?
Other than the massive number of student participation, we’re the first tuition platform in Malaysia to achieve fully automated end-to-end seamless operation from registration to attendance. We’re adopting a SaaS subscription model to our platform. A new user soon after registering a new account can get to enjoy 1-week free trial period where he has access to the live classes in the next 7 days and all the previous recorded lessons of the month. Once the free trial period is over, the system will prompt the users to sign up for regular classes. The payment system is fully automated in accordance with the monthly subscription period. All classes have automatic reminders of the upcoming class schedule, the announcement of class content and recording videos. The students get to download handouts, submit the assignment, or ask teacher questions via the web app. In short, the moment the student starts subscribing to our classes, everything else is fully automated. This is only possible because of our innovative UI/UX design and strong tech development capability.
There are some ineffective practices in the existing market:
- When a student makes a payment, the tuition operator needs to check manually before approving or allowing the student to attend classes. Some tuition operators don’t have the capacity to implement 100% checking and hence some students get to attend for free despite not paying the fee.
- Parents or students are invited to many Whatsapp groups to get the latest updates on the upcoming lesson links where their personal details like phone numbers or names are exposed to strangers easily. This is a serious privacy issue.
- Recordings are not available for classes. Students who couldn’t attend the classes or wish to revise don’t have the convenience.
In addition, we are also in the midst of developing our own live streaming software which allows every tutor to host the live streaming within our portal and the recordings of the classes will be automatically made available after the live streaming ends just like Facebook Live. This is significantly different from other players which always depend on Google Meet or Zoom where they practice sending links to students or parents via Whatsapp or email for every class. This practice is not scalable. Imagine that there are 10 concurrent sessions starting at the same time, to avoid unpaid students to join, the tuition operators need to admit the students one by one. How many operators are required to check and approve a few hundred or a few thousand attendees in a short few minutes. Hence, by having our own in-house live streaming function, we can ensure the full control of the attendance and minimize privacy issues.
In your opinion, what makes Translife Education different from its competitors?
Most of the industry players tend to have a few well-known teachers but not all teachers. But every single teacher teaching on our platform is the best of the best. Students who took our lessons had significant progress in their exam in just a short few months. On top of that, in terms of the technology, our platform is well designed to ensure all the students get a smooth end-to-end learning experience. The key differentiator is that we keep innovating our product and service offers which many competitors tend not to do so.
Our students are able to complete their full tuition journey on a single platform which is our web application starting from registration, free trial, payment, getting class updates, attending live class, downloading handouts, asking questions after class, submitting assignment, watching replay, to referring friends to earn extra pocket money. Unlike other tuition platforms which use different segregated platforms which lead to the confusion of tracking information and materials, the inconvenience of switching platforms in between or worse still the potential risk of privacy issues.
In the light of recent events, can you tell us a little bit about how Covid-19 has affected the education industry? What challenges and opportunities have you noticed, and what effect do they have on Translife Education? How are you adapting to the new reality?
The Covid-19 pandemic situation has successfully created a new habit of learning online among students and forced many parents to learn how to prepare the proper online learning environment for their children. The best learning experience should be a hybrid model including both offline and online learning of which in the past, Malaysia was lagging behind compared to other developed and developing countries. Malaysia has progressed significantly in the online learning culture by at least 5 to 10 years because of Covid-19. A lot of education players have started to learn how to use Zoom or Google Meet to conduct online classes. However, this is just a smart beginning step. As what we are aggressively pushing technologically, an end-to-end fully digitalised online learning platform is required to deliver the best learning experience. In the past, Malaysia focused a lot on digitalising the content like creating animation videos, creating education games etc. Moving forward, teachers will need to be retrained on how to use different tools and resources for different purposes. An ongoing retraining program of teachers is required too.
As the learning behaviours among students evolve further, we must keep up with the innovation to come up with even more sophisticated solutions in the near future. We are investing heavily up to 50% of our profits into technology development.
We want to thank you again for the interview. Last question, share with us three books that have inspired you. Feel free to suggest more than three.
Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by B.J. Fogg (Goodreads)
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (Goodreads)
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (Goodreads)
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie (Goodreads)
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (Goodreads)
The Go-Giver by Bog Burg (Goodreads)
Change Your Questions Change Your Life by Marilee Adams (Goodreads)