Kids today are surrounded by more technology than we have ever experienced during our own childhood. aCAT brings you the Startup Story of Telebort, a company that enriches the minds of our younger generation through IT education.
Digital technology has been rapidly gaining traction and it does not show signs of slowing down anytime soon.
This has birthed a more tech-savvy generation that hungers for any tech knowledge they can get their hands on.
To satisfy these kids’ thirst for tech education, Telebort started running coding classes particularly catered for students aged 7-15 years old.
Transporting kids to a realm of new possibilities
“Everyone should know how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”
- Steve Jobs
Telebort offers a wealth of opportunities to young children with their tech programs. Based in Penang, this startup is a mobile learning centre that exposes kids to computer science.
Interestingly enough, Telebort started out doing something else entirely.
In 2016, they originally focused on introducing virtual reality (VR) to local students via Google Expeditions, a VR teaching tool.
Telebort’s campaign landed them a spot in MaGIC’s Accelerator Program (MAP). This was where Kee Chong Wei, the co-founder, successfully obtained seed funding for his startup.
But his time in the program also drove him to figure out strategies to sustain his business operations while still achieving its primary social objective.
Chong Wei and his team reflected on their VR campaign and recalled that many students voiced genuine interest in computer science. Unfortunately, the subject was not available in most schools-and when it was, the lesson was not well-taught.
From the feedback received, then came a brilliant idea to set up affordable coding classes for school students.
This way, the business could become self-sustaining while creating impact in the form of teacher training and classroom transformation!
None of the knowledge, all of the problems
The pedagogical background that Team Telebort possessed meant the lessons ran smoothly.
But they had issues in operating the coding classes as they lacked business management skills.
Fortunately, the teachers at the learning centres had ample experience and offered great advice. Despite their packed schedules, they spared some time to sit down with Team Telebort and help them optimise their operations.
The teachers taught the Teleborters how to create a suitable pricing model, a freer class schedule, and proper execution of manpower training.
At one point, both parties even talked until the wee hours of the morning. Now, THAT is dedication.
Chong Wei and his team members are incredibly grateful for the teachers’ guidance and support in their social enterprise. Without them, Telebort would not be as efficient as it is today.
The hardworking brains behind Telebort
It takes a group of talented, industrious, and selfless individuals to embark on an endeavor that puts profits to focus on real, social impacts. That’s exactly the kind of people on the Telebort team.
The core team consists of the duo, Chong Wei and Yet Phing, Telebort’s other co-founder.
Initially, Yet Phing lectured regularly at SEGi and Inti College and could only be involved with Telebort during her free time.
But after hearing Chong Wei’s reasoning out, Yet Phing eventually agreed to quit her job and join him at Telebort full time.
Chong Wei certainly has a natural flair for persuasion as he was also able to convince 17 former students (through his brief tutoring stint at USM) to become volunteers for Telebort.
To become a Teleborter, one only needs to have a love for computer science, knowledge-sharing and teaching others.
A vision that is brighter than the sun
Presently, Telebort holds an average of five classes weekly spanning three programs.
Their lessons cover the foundation of creative computing, mobile app development, and web design.
Since launching in March 2017, Telebort has around 10 learning centres as registered class venues and they have taught over 172 students and counting. In the near future, they also plan to run classes every Sunday at the Penang Digital Library.
Telebort’s goal from the get-go has been to encourage proper accessibility and exposure of children to technology.
Additionally, Telebort aims to train teachers so they better understand computer science concepts, which will change how they teach their own students.
Telebort strongly believes in building a well-rounded ecosystem to facilitate the advancement of children in the field of computer science.
They want Generation Z to use the amazing tech around them for more than just playing games.
Chong Wei & Co. sees their after-school coding classes as a positive initiative that will unleash the creative potential in every child they teach.
The stunning display of appreciation for their efforts
There has been an overwhelming response to Telebort’s classes from students, parents as well as teachers.
Being psychology graduates, the Telebort teachers incorporate positive reinforcement in their classes. The children are always encouraged and never shamed for making mistakes.
Children love Telebort programs because they can gain new skills and share their ideas without fear of being scolded.
Chong Wei and his team also use their psychological knowledge to analyse their students’ class interactions.
They then construct a report that informs parents of how their kids are doing from academic and behavioral aspects.
This is partly why Telebort’s programs have been such a hit with parents and teachers. They are glad to have deeper insights into their child’s or their student’s overall development.
Sometimes parents and teachers will even offer the Teleborters delicious, home-cooked meals that fill their bellies as well as their hearts.
These acts of gratitude have turned their startup experience into a memorable one and made Telebort’s hard work feel worthwhile.
Advice to aspiring entrepreneurs
1. “Know why you want to do something.”
Ask yourself this question: Why are you doing this?
You’d be surprised at how difficult it can be to answer that when you have never really figured out your reason for starting your business.
Chong Wei’s mentor Nina Othman, founder of Grow the Goose, constantly poked and prodded him until he finally understood his true motivations and goals for Telebort.
His advice: Perform multiple rounds of “Why?” questioning until you get to the root of your motivation.
Every business decision you make has to be made with your motivation in mind, always. Your reason will be like a compass that guides a wandering traveller.
2. “Just do it.”
Inspired by Nike’s slogan, Chong Wei believes these words to be sound advice.
This bold, young man who graduated in 2016 decided to pursue his dream of molding kids into tech creators and inventors within that very year.
Chong Wei barely had a chance to catch his breath before his passion pushed him to his next big thing, Telebort.
To him, there is no better time like the present to start your business.
If you keep fumbling about for excuses and procrastinate, then nothing is going to happen. Your startup is not going to build and grow by itself. You have to take those first steps.
As scary as it can be, sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind and just do it.
3. “Be humble.”
Honestly, if you want to achieve any kind of success, whether business or otherwise, you have to be humble.
When Chong Wei and his team encountered real hardships in their startup journey, they did not hesitate to ask for help from the learning centres and their friends.
They humbly acknowledged their lack of business acumen and experience and sought advice from people who admittedly knew better.
You should not feel ashamed, fearful, or shy to ask questions and learn new things.
There are many people out there who are more than glad to help you as long as you speak up.
Keeping your issues to yourself will get you nowhere. But learning from others leads you to solve problems faster and smarter than you would have done on your own.
- Consider the needs of your target audience.
- Learn from those more knowledgeable than yourself.
- If you really want something, you have to fight for it.
- Make sure you surround yourself with a strong support system.
- Determine your motivation for starting any project.
- Set your fears aside and just go for your goal.
- Be humble and ask for help when you need it.
“We try to enhance the typical classroom environment by implementing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) concepts.”
- Kee Chong Wei, Co-Founder of Telebort
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