This interview was first published on TechMoran
In just less than a year, ScholaX, an EdTech startup has become a household name for Nigerian students. The app and web-based startup offer a platform to search for scholarship opportunities and apply before its due date. Asides this, they have just launched a crowdfunding platform where African students can raise funds for their education. In a few more years, they hope to have funded at least 5 million students’ education.
So far, we must say that the rate at which people are leveraging technology to improve education is quite impressive. EdTech in Nigeria and is on the increase with other startups like pass.ng leading the pack. For now, enjoy this interview with a co-founder and CEO of ScholarX.
I am thinking you had problems looking for scholarship opportunities during your Undergraduate days which led to the creation of ScholarX. Is this right?
Correct. But actually, the initial concept for ScholarX came from our Co-founder and COO Maxwell Ogunfuyi, whom sort to create a platform for where students in Nigeria could easily access locally based scholarships. He got awarded a few during his undergraduate days but felt he could have applied and possibly been awarded a lot more if only he had a way of accessing them before their due dates.
Tell us about the early days of ScholarX. How was it like at the beginning?
ScholarX App has only been around for a year plus now, so we still consider it the early days lol. We have been fortunate enough through handwork to achieve some form of success, but we feel we just scratching the surface. Like most startups, we faced some challenges and had to pace through the learning curve, especially operating in an emerging market where you have to manoeuvre through a myriad of market forces. We learning quickly that for us to succeed, we had to base everything we did on our customers/users and made key strategic decisions on how they responded to each feature release, marketing campaign and so on.
Students are quite not very financially capable. How do you turn them into paying customers, or you do not?
Agreed, and that is why we’ve made our subscription fairly affordable and by choice. We currently charge N1,000/year, and that’s if the user decides he/she wants unlimited access. There is a freemium option, which gives the user access to 10 scholarship per search. Our revenue model focuses less on subscriptions and more on strategic partnerships we could form with foreign universities and other stakeholders (Government, Multinational Corps., Organisations etc), and the unlimited opportunities that will come with scaling our Crowdfunding platform, Village
What is the biggest challenge ScholarX has faced since launch?
Like I hinted earlier, launching a product in an Emerging market is difficult, especially in a place like Nigeria. There are numerous social and infrastructural hurdles to scale. One prominent challenge we had to deal with was trust. And we’ve been able to earn that gradually, by making sure we positioned ScholarX as a conversational brand. We take customer engagement very seriously. This is evident with our huge social media presence.
If you had a chance to do something different since you had been running the startup, what would it be?
Would most likely have launched our Village crowdfunding product first, before the Scholarship app. We truly believe this is a game-changer, and we can reach millions of young people at the bottom of the pyramid. As well as get people interested in helping located across the globe involved.
Given the present shambles in our educational system, would you advise those who have the means to seek other options abroad?
If you have the means, yes! However, we really need to fix our system, to allow us to cultivate and retain talent. Also, I hope those fortunate to go study abroad, return at some point to come help fix some of the issues we’re facing.
Asides providing a platform for searching for scholarships, do you offer any other services to students?
Yes, a Village education Crowdfunding platform, that gives students (Secondary and University) seeking financial assistance the opportunity to pitch themselves (funds request) to the public on why they should receive donations to help fund their tuition. We launched just last month and close to 10 requests has been fully funded. Hopefully, we can get more people to sponsor these students
Apps and web platforms have similar, yet quite different roles. What was the rationale behind using both platforms?
Apps afford the user mobility and ease of access, especially with our in-app notifications on new scholarships. However, due to high cost of data, we had to offer an alternative (web app)
In 5 years time, how big do you anticipate ScholarX?
The leading Education funding platform in Africa, through Financial aids, Students loans (interest-free), Scholarships and Crowdfunding. Our goal is to reach 5 million Africans directly.
A piece of advice to upcoming founder wanting to make a difference in the education sector?
Create easily distributed content that can reach and help everyday people who may not be tech-savvy.