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Mohamed Zohair, co-founder and the CEO of YaSchools, speaks to Gulf Business about the Saudi Arabia-based platform’s role in bringing together school administrators, teachers and parents in a one-of-a kind ecosystem.
Tell us about YaSchools and its USP.
The initial motivation to launch a platform such as YaSchools was to simplify parental access to school-related information. The prevailing school data was notably limited and frequently outdated. Even if it existed, it was scattered which meant that one had to look for more than one source to get a full picture.
Additionally, parents did not seem to have a voice. The opinions or the experiences of current parents with the schools their children studied in were unpublished. Which meant that new parents had to do a lot of groundwork, physically visit school facilities to compare and choose the best for their children.
Hence, the main objective was to create a platform that brought all of this information in one place to make it easier for parents to choose schools. This was just the start of the platform as we have gone on to add dozens of other services since then.
Walk us through your platform’s evolution.
YaSchools started as a simple school directory that hosted information of about 200 schools. Our initial aim was to be a platform that informed users and helped them compare between various schools.
Soon enough, market trends and feedback led us to add many more services such as discounts on tuition fees, facilitating the fi nancing of tuition fees, managing private tutoring, and a specialised marketplace for our partners’ services and products.
We expanded our services to educational companies such as setting up a digital page for each school, enhancing their digital presence, creating a channel to manage communication with parents, managing personal interviews for new students, creating questionnaires, integration with the internal school ERP system and other services.
This database is today a repository of more than 1,750 schools and their facilities and we are now an educational management solutions fi rm.
What are some educational technology trends you have harnessed for your platform?
Our focus is on using technology based on the process automation concept to save resources (time and cost). We want to ensure educational companies and their administrators can communicate easily with all stakeholders and thus improve the child and the parents’ experience for the better. We also use big-data management techniques in addition to artifi cial intelligence (AI) techniques, especially machine learning to ensure that parents receive the information that they need from the platform.
How will you leverage AI in the edtech sector?
We believe the development of the learning process depends on helping students obtain the right knowledge and skills, in addition to the development of educational facilities, those who manage them and interact with students.
Similarly, the development of AI is in its nascent stage and will see signifi cant growth. We are hence, working to develop several services that are supported by AI to ensure higher accuracy in helping parents obtain the information they need to better educate their children – not only in schools but in other support services such as private education, sports, ancillary learning and self-development.
We are also working to develop a product that will help education companies hire the best talent for their companies through a matching-making mechanism between candidates, job requirements and available jobs.
Explain how the convergence of educators, parents and schools impacts the company and its stakeholders.
At YaSchools, our aim is to aid parents in the educational journey that they take as their children grow and develop. It is centered on enhancing the parental involvement in their children’s educational journey as well. This is the point of convergence for our service. We recently, unveiled the ‘e-Teachers’ platform, empowering educators to create comprehensive profi les and seamlessly stay abreast of updates, employment openings, and even receive direct inquiries for private tutoring from both students and parents.
Additionally, we launched our online marketplace that houses a diverse array of specialised stores catering to the needs of our students. This integral addition substantially bolsters the overall educational experience for students.
What are some of the challenges you anticipate?
Like any startup, our foremost challenge revolves around creating an equilibrium between the influx of incoming requests and our existing operational capacities. We find ourselves confronted with an immensely robust demand within the local market, compounded by entreaties from regional representatives in other markets.
We aspire to provide further financial resources and human competencies to support our team, thereby enhancing the role of YaSchools as an assistant and planner for parents in the local as well as upcoming markets.
Tell us about your funding structure and your plans to utilise it.
We’ve secured a funding of $600,000 courtesy of a consortium of angel investors. A significant portion of this investment will be allocated towards boosting our sales and marketing capabilities. We will also focus on amplifying our foothold in untapped markets.
On the expansion front, our market research led us to the decision to expand in the Jordanian market. We anticipate the debut of our services in Jordan in the fourth quarter of this year.