Through ZincShower, LearningLovers.org has had the opportunity to meet those responsible for business initiatives that generate technological solutions to meet the needs of training centers and schools.
WeKAb And Blue Planet Tales In ZincShower
In particular, through ZincShower we found WeKAb, designed for trainers and training companies, and Blue Planet Tales for schools. Let’s go and see them!
1. For Training Companies
WeKAb is a platform that connects knowledge, contacting experts, and trainers with training companies. Its mission is to put value in knowledge and experience from the people so that it is easily locateable and transferable to other workers, and thus to facilitate training from the people who possess that knowledge. We chatted with Juan Diego Pereiro Areán, CEO of WeKAb, and this is what he told us about his project:
A Connection Point
“WeKAb is a platform that connects knowledge because we bring together experts and trainers from any area of knowledge with training entities that need these types of profiles.
- On one hand, we intend to identify all that knowledge and experience hold by people (and nowadays, as many trainers are unemployed, there is knowledge not being used) so the system itself can use it to improve both financially and to continue innovating; at the same time, these people can unleash their experiences and knowledge.
- On the other hand, we want to solve basic and simple needs. Trainers have to look for offers and deliver CVs on a continuous basis, offering their services to twenty thousand sites to find a job. In addition, it is very difficult for entities to find a trainer for the time and place they need.
In a way, we imagine this to be a point of connection. Right now, we are a platform specialized in trainers. Our mission is to be the ones who “offer trainers”, through their services, so they are developed professionally and can do a more efficient and of better quality work for their clients. In a more commercial way, we would be a marketplace for the training sector, an Amazon for trainers and training companies. Here you can find everything you need. In October 2016 we also launched our first training course for trainers at SoyFormador.com, so that the trainer can upload contents and sell them. There is a whole series of services that is going to go around training. There will be training for employment, continuous training, non-formal training, etc.”
The Emergence Of The Idea
“I am an engineer, and although I worked as an environmental consultant, I was responsible for training in the Labor Foundation of Construction, which at the time was the second entity of Spain with the more students. I worked there for five and a half years. During my last year, we managed more than 10 million euros and 10,000 students. In this five-year job, in spite of being a large company, with many resources and centers, I found this problem: Finding a trainer when needed and also ensuring they fit; because often you had to cross your fingers. Our platform generates the reputation of the trainer; they are reviewed by the companies that hire them.”
“Another problem was that we always needed to rent computers or other resources by going with the same 20 suppliers and doing a pretty hard job without enough time to develop the resource or not knowing if we had chosen the best. Thus related things arose, although our core was having a good trainer and offering a good service; ensuring that the whole system works.”
“Seeing that, and since I always wanted to set up my own business, at one point I told my company that I was going to get into the world of entrepreneurship. I set up a co-working space to surround myself with people to collaborate, because in the first phase you cannot have all the equipment you want, and now we are in a phase where the website has been working for a year and we have already been offering services and invoiced several companies. We have also called the attention of companies in the sector that have contacted us as groups of training centers, and lately we are with publishers and distributors of content. In the end, they come because they find it interesting. We try to raise funds.”
Participation In ZincShower
“Why are we going to ZinkShower? Because it is one of the fashion weeks for startups; there, people are getting to know us in a field of investment. What we really care about is our customers and users; but hey, to get money you also have to be in other places, and this is a way to get to be known and to add value in what you do.”
“We work at Spain, but the vocation is international. The new version we are developing is already multi-language. First we want to do better here and settle down before going to other places.”
“In a year and a half, we expect to reach a critical mass of 20,000 trainers. That will allow us to guarantee a very consolidated and powerful service. Right now we have 7300 trainers and 280 companies. What we want to do is to tweak the business model, expand the customer base, making it sustainable, and at the same time to increase our services.”
“One service that we will start in November 2016 is the platform to train trainers at SoyFormador.com. We have trainers on the platform, but we also have professionals, experts who have experience and knowledge that need to be recycled to make that knowledge more accessible immediately through training.”
“Initially it will be online training. I think the future of training is in blended training; mixed, neither one thing nor the other. I think there will always be face-to-face training, no matter how much we talk about eLearning. The other day I read an article saying that there is only one company in the world that makes tape cassettes. It has been multiplied by five, because it has no competition and sells as a vintage… I do not say that this is the case, but certain things always continue to exist.”
“Another question is how many people are prepared to train only online. People have little ability to concentrate. We don’t know how training will be tomorrow, although it will always exist; it is a matter of adapting to whatever arises.”
“The way in which I imagine we can grow is always based on collaborations, and for the training of trainers, I have it very clear: I look for people who are good to establish a challenge in a win-win model. I put the platform and the other person puts the experience. By the way: In Madrid we have more than 1200 registered trainers.”
2. For Schools
Products from Blue Planet Tales offer 2 solutions, one for home and one for school. At school, teachers can use it to train children on curricular topics in a playful and fun way. And at home, parents can offer children an entertainment with which they are learning.
The application for schools currently has 30 curriculum stories divided into different subjects, written like an adventure, with interactivities, narrations, languages, questions and answers, and free text fields to encourage writing, where what it is seen and read is being reinforced. Ignacio Parra, CEO of Blue Planet Tales, talks to us about his business venture:
“This arises in 2012. One day i Was reading a magazine with my niece, then two years old, and she touched the magazine with her finger. She looked at me as if she was surprised, because nothing happened. Her parents are quite technological, and my niece had become accustomed to being all day with the iPad; she had thought that everything worked that way, that everything was digital. When I saw her face I understood that nowadays children have completely changed their way of consuming, and that would possibly apply to the subject of education very soon.”
“So, we started to think a little about how we could use those digital screens that attract children in a way that it was not all about playing, but as a series of content that entertained them and at the same time educated them. Because, in the end, parents are responsible for children using the new technologies; parents decide if the child can play more or play less. Therefore, this would also have to be a product that parents find interesting, so that when they leave their children with the tablet, they leave their children with content they like, because they are also contributing to their education.”
“That’s how we got the machinery going. We had to see how to reach the children with products that entertained them and that would help them learn. And we think of stories; because if you ask anybody what’s the name of the father of the wooden child whose nose grew, or why Cinderella could not stay awake, everyone knows the answer. When you are a child and someone reads a story to you, you like very much how it is told, because it is a kind of adventure; you store all that information. However, when someone asks what year the man went to the moon, when dinosaurs disappeared, or how many people have walked on the moon, people don’t remember those answers because they were told in school in a very tedious way.”
“If children, when they read stories, remember them for life, and when they are adults they remember the details of the stories, if we are able to transform the history of the Earth and the human being into interactive stories for kids, then children will feel attracted. Technology attracts them, History will make them learn, and we will close the gap between entertainment and education a little.”
“And this is how we started. We looked for the most important and interesting stories, and at the moment we have 29: The discovery of America, the construction of the Pyramids, the extinction of the dinosaurs, the trip to the moon, Marie Curie… We started developing applications for tablets.”
“When we talk about the project, most people give us feedback that it is better than expected. When you do something you like you always expect to have good feedback, but people liked the project so much they said: ‘Hey, this is very good, why don’t you take it out on paper? Why don’t you take it to schools?’ This was the next step we took: We started taking out the paper collection and we started developing applications for schools. This is the point where we are more or less now.”
“We have foreseen some things: For example, we are discussing the issue of virtual reality and we are already in contact with a company that is dedicated to virtual reality issues, to see how we can make applications that go one step further and that instead of watching the story at the tablet or reading it in a book, you are living it.”
“In addition, one of the things we did, aside from looking for different stories, was to look for different illustrators; we tell stories like adventures, and we use with professional speakers. We have spoken in Spanish with an actress of the series Bis a bis, with an American actress for the US market, and with an English and a Mexican actor for Latin America. We have the concept, we have the material, and we continue to explore the paths that are coming to convert this concept to new technologies.”
“We were born directly international because as we started developing applications we realized that the application market does not distinguish between countries. When you upload an application to the Apple Store or to Google Play you can put it on a global level. In the end, once you have made the product, doing it in English or making the adaptations for Latin America is a major expense, but it opens a much greater range of possibilities. In applications, English is the native language.”
“There are 2 parts of our product:
- The stories on paper, in which 5 to 9 year-old kids read or have their parents reading for them.
- The digital part, which is very intuitive with interactions and sounds. We are seeing that younger children also get them and like them.
As for the business plan, there comes a time when you have to expand to more ages. What happens is that from a strategic point of view, it is more interesting to focus on one audience, to make a good product for them, to try and make the product succeed for the brand to be recognized. And from there, you can create another series of products for the same audience and other types of products to other audiences, a little older.”
Participation In ZincShower
“We were a resident project when the Cultural Factory of Madrid opened in the Matadero of Madrid, and there, almost from the beginning, we were in contact with ZincShower. I do not remember why we did not participated in 2015, but we did in 2016. This type of event, according to my experience, is good for different things: We are in a more advanced project phase, so it is good for the subject of investment. We have closed two rounds of funding, but the project is growing and it always needs money. It is not only what you can get and the visibility that these kinds of events can offer you, but being admitted is a recognition for those people who may be interested.”
“At this moment we have different ways of business. The digital part, for which we have already created enough content to be able to start offering it well, has 2 aspects:
- The part of applications for tablets.
- The part of schools.
Then there is the paper part: We have to develop this.”
“We also want to continue to internationalize, because we already have orders from Mexico, and we begin to move abroad.”
“In addition, we have already begun to explore what other ways of products we can make that people will like a lot conceptually and what other ways technology offers us to develop. We have already had some meetings about the subject of virtual reality and it is something that we are beginning to consider for the near future, if it is viable. You have to study everything very well because in the end technological development is very expensive, and often technological development is ahead of the market. So we have to study everything very well. That’s our current plan.”