The company of the day is 1800-TEACHER.com, based in Singapore. 1800-TEACHER.com is an education communication portal featuring free e-books and peer support. You will find below an interview with Lau Chin Loong, founder of 1800-TEACHER.com. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!
Interview with Lau Chin Loong, founder of 1800-TEACHER.com
Who are you?
Hi! I’m Lau Chin Loong. I’m the founder of 1800-TEACHER.com, Singapore Education Network. An education communication portal featuring free e-books and peer support.
What did you do before creating your company?
I was a commercial banking officer at United Overseas Bank Ltd from 1992-1998. I joined the Ministry of Education from 1998-2003 to be a primary schoolteacher. I left the service in 2003 to start my own tuition services. 1800-TEACHER.com came to be in August 2007.
How did you get the idea? What s the genesis?
People needed a central number to call for education services. So, I got two toll-free numbers: 1800-TEACHER and 1800-TUITION to meet that need. Next, there is a big demand for school workbooks. So, to fill that need, we’ve been busy writing 100s of them as e-workbooks to rival a very popular bookstore in Singapore. As the school system here is very demanding, students and parents need a portal to help one another with homework questions. Hence, the Homework Help section in the website came to being. Coming up soon will be a live chat section.
What do you sell? What is your company’s mission?
We are the first in the world to offer a free education portal with e-books thrown in. We look to produce 20 e-books in a month. We have contracts with 2 US ebook retailers to sell some of our Singapore Math workbooks. Ultimately, ad revenue is the key. Our mission is to be the world’s leading education portal with a MS tie-up to rival Google or Yahoo.
What is your market?
Our members come from every corner of the world. Name a country, we would have at least one member. If not, it’ll be in the works.
Any clients? References? Partners?
Two partners we have retail contracts with:
Funding history? VCs? BA?
SG$200,000 is self-funded.
Due to lack of funds, we have no budget for advertising. On average, we have 20 member signups a day. We sell about 60 e-books a month in the US. The potential for growth is exponential. This is a highly scalable portal. First of its kind in the free world.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
I have 4 employees. We’ve outsourced our IT dept. since Jan.2009 to cut cost.
Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?
The more the better. Unfortunately, we are self-funded, so there is a freeze now.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
We’ve outsourced, so, there’s nothing in-house. No comments.
Do you have any Software IP? Is there something that you’re the only one to do on the market?
We are not doing anything in software development. But, our portal is the first of its kind in the world.
Who’s your role model?
Lee Kuan Yew.
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet areas?
There’s a huge market for my services in developing countries in Asia: ASEAN, China and India. The ad revenues would be good.
Looking for funding? If yes, how much?
Our expenditure is at SG$100,000 a month. To grow over the next 3 years would take SG$3,600,000 in extra funding.
What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?
It’s a wonderful program for start-ups. Software forms quite a bulk of expenditure.
Any advice to young Software entrepreneurs?
Start young, think big, and stick to it. (Got this from CNBC!)
Anything else you’d like to say?
Take a ride with the future on 1800-TEACHER.com!