FOUNDER – Chris Kwekowe
INSPIRATION TO START THE BUSINESS
In 2014, twelve 300 level students, mostly Chris’s classmates interned at Microbold, his first startup. Two months into the six months that the internship was meant to last, another classmate who had just arrived Lagos asked to take part in the internship but due to distance he wouldn’t be able to make it. At that time, the company had considered eLearning, but on a very fundamental level.
Chris started thinking about a way around the problem. That’s when an idea struck him. “What if his firm could revolutionize education to reduce the amount of people who lacked jobs by leveraging online courses and virtual internship programs as tools to properly balance knowledge with skill acquisition. The objective would be to promote a society that has individuals with skills to tackle its challenges, and eventually create value for them for doing so?”
Chris discussed the prospects with his younger brother, and the developed a blueprint, assembled some of their staff, interns, and freelancers to work on researching deeper into the concept of Blended and Distributed learning – and other forms of eLearning. That’s how they started Slatecube – which has now been used in all continents of the world, and has offered course training to more than 2000 users (virtually and onsite). Hundreds of those trained have interned or have been attached with real organizations, and 80% have high test, project and implementation scores.
BACKGROUND OF FOUNDER (S)
A computer science graduate from Lagos, Chris founded Slatecube with his brother Emerald, 20, in October 2014. They funded the company by freelancing as web designers and running a software solutions firm. Chris has turned.
DESCRIPTION OF BUSINESS
Students sign on to the platform by getting a Microbold account. They learn and acquire industry-relevant skills, after which they get experience by virtually interning at reputable ICT firms, putting their learned skills to use. Their overall experience at Slatecube gives them a chance of getting employed by some international high profile companies.
Slatecube approaches prospective trainees with a coursework program, many of which are free. The training areas range from finance to anger management and of course information technology. After completing courses, the students are assigned virtual internships and work for large companies from around the world. If the internship works for all parties, Slatecube graduates are considered for jobs.
Chris always had an issue with conventional education. He believes education and learning should be about developing skills that help tackle real-life challenges and should be engaging, collaborative, industry-relevant, practice driven, and directed towards providing solutions to our everyday problems. Last year, Chris won the Anzisha Prize, an award for Africa’s top young entrepreneur. And was awarded USD $25,000.
The founder faces many challenges as follows:
– First his age
– Secondly, his physique as he could easily pass for a minor making it difficult for most people to listen to his proposition.
– In school, he had to sacrifice most of his school hours just to think and brainstorm about the idea – even during exams.
– Trying to get course content developers with little or no payments (he literarily had to come up with ingenious ways of paying them off in the end).
– Organizing Slatecube Boot camps with personal cash and very lean cash allowances.
– Convincing organizations to try out the platform and partner with him
– Painstakingly reviewing the platform’s over 1 million lines of code in order to fix bugs and optimize its delivery algorithm.
– Chris never really had a perfect condition to build the platform.
– Additionally, his parents were concerned about the two brothers’ education – at some point they demanded he leave his younger brother so he could focus on his studies if he was no longer serious with his.
These challenges are gone now – and his family is now one of their biggest supporters.
The platform has an 80 percent employment rate for its users. And have saved companies over $100,000 in hiring skilled, ready to work employees. Slatecube also works with schools and organizations to create, host, and implement virtual learning and organizational training programs. This also provides a venue to present program participants to potential employers.
So far, the Slatecube platform provides over 157 industry related topics ranging from corporate finance to anger management, is in partnership with 23 schools and organizations. It has also provided over 1,500 virtual internship programs. The Slatecube website generates over 3,000 visitors each month.
POTENTIAL FOR SCALE-UP
According to the founder, the firm is poised to achieve very significant milestones in the next decade. This includes expanding courses and skills development program’s by investing heavily into the quality of all our course offerings. This would be achieved by:
– Bringing in more top-notch industry experts from as many industries as possible (including Agriculture, Fashion Design, Real Estate, Healthcare).
– Brokering partnerships with more leading organizations from around the world to groom and adopt qualified users, where applicable.
– Initializing and sponsoring 50 additional Boot camps and Educational excursions each year to promote collaboration and other relevant social skills.
– Replicating their courses and skills program in 17 local languages across Africa.
The founder points out that this would build a critical mass of over 50,000 sound and experienced individuals who are either running their companies, gainfully employed or ready to be adopted into the workforce.
To achieve a feat as important as this, within 10 years, their firm faces significant challenges such as being able to access to good Internet facilities. A major challenge with eLearning in Africa, and many rural communities across the globe, is poor internet facilities or none at all.
Chris intends to establish internet hubs in strategic places across cities in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda known as Slatecafé to facilitate easier access to Slatecube. The Slatecafé would distribute high-speed internet signals for users to access course contents on Slatecube. The company is currently is in discussion with Avanti Plc. (a Satellite Broadband and data communications company based in London) to provide internet facility for Slatecafé. With this collaboration, internet access will be mostly free or heavily subsidized for every learning activity across the platform.