Welcome to issue #31 of our recently launched Q&A series, Startup Spotlight.
This series is all about diving into the world-class technological innovation conducted by exciting startups. Getting to grips with the technology, the mission, and even the stories behind them.
In each edition we sit down with a different startup founder, leader, or operator in an easily digestible conversational style Q&A format.
Today we interviewed David Harkin, CEO of 8billionideas, to talk about how future-focused learning is here to shape the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
- 🎓 How 8billionideas use technology to empower students and create valuable, future-focused learning experiences
- 🌍 The company with a mission to give every student the confidence and skills to change the world
- 🤗 Why nurturing the entrepreneurs of the future now really matters
Maths… English… Science… History… As a society we’re expected to excel in subjects like these – but where do they actually lead us? Prime example: how many times have you used Pythagoras Theorem since leaving school?
Imagine if you could take a GCSE in becoming a badass in business? Or an A-Level in changing the world? OK, well, you can’t.
BUT, 8billionideas have promised to give 10–14-year-olds a learning experience like no other, offering them a head start towards a brighter future by focusing on the skills that really matter.
Through an engaging digital platform brimming with courses, live sessions and dedicated mentors, 8billionideas teach young people real-life skills and a 'the-sky’s-the-limit' mindset needed to achieve their future career dreams.
Student progress can be tracked by teachers and parents via a user-friendly dashboard, and all learning content is cyber-safe and industry recognised. A pretty neat idea in itself, isn’t it?
It seems 8billionideas have transformed the education universe for budding entrepreneurs, but what sets them apart from other digital education services?
How do they plan to scale their business?
And finally, what’s next on the agenda for 8billionideas?
We asked, David answered. Here we go.👇
What is the mission of your company?
8billionideas is on a mission to give every student on the planet the skills and belief to change the world. A straightforward statement that is quite a challenge to achieve!
But we know that every child has an amazing imagination. We are setting out to equip them with the skills that they need to put that imagination into action.
Today, the world is moving at an increasingly rapid pace and it’s not always easy for education systems to keep up. A full 65% of children entering primary school today are anticipated to end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
That is why we work with schools and other organisations all over the globe to provide future-focused learning to thousands of students.
How are you using technology to help solve that problem?
Technology plays an integral part in what we do. On the most basic level, it enables any student in the world with an internet connection to engage with our services.
We offer schools a digital platform with self-paced courses, videos, live sessions, and dedicated mentors to equip students with the entrepreneurial skills for tomorrow.
Our Platform is perfect for individualised learning, while the live sessions are streamed directly into the classroom or onto a student’s device. Schools can customise their own programme with the help of our team and can choose whether they would like to have a Facilitator on site or have it be fully virtual.
In our efforts to give every student the skills and belief to change the world, we always strive to use the best available technology. For example, we have recently started incorporating augmented reality into our material to make the learning experience even more engaging.
What's your unique selling point?
Our key differentiator lies in our focus to provide students with solid entrepreneurial capabilities. For one, we explicitly teach entrepreneurial skills.
Secondly, we help schools teach other valuable skills – such as creativity, problem-solving, and project management – through entrepreneurship. To that end, we offer programmes that enable students to apply what they learn in school in new ways via flexible, skills-based programmes or experiences.
Another important selling point is that we – as mentioned above – hold live sessions that give students the opportunity to interact in real-time with our Facilitators. In relation to this, we have dedicated mentors that offer one-on-one support to any student on our Platform, either over chat or on a video call.
While there are many companies that offer digital education services, our emphasis on future-focused learning is quite unique. We strive to give students the skills they need to successfully navigate the career landscape in the coming decade.
What have been the greatest challenges to date?
I would say our major challenges have centred around effective scaling. We are fortunate to have experienced strong demand for our products and services, and we have had to stretch ourselves quite thin sometimes to ensure that we deliver.
It is often an art to sustainably scale the business – both in terms of revenue and staff. We are always striving to grow responsibly to the extent that we can consistently delight our customers while generating increased revenue.
What major milestones have you achieved, and what's next!?
We have achieved several milestones over the past 18 months, and it has been quite a ride. To name a few, we have successfully established a strong foothold in the UK, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
Another really exciting milestone has been the Perform Better programme, which we have developed in partnership with the elite ski academy Apex2100. We delivered the first sessions of this programme over the summer and the feedback has been absolutely amazing.
As we head towards the final quarter of 2022, we are looking to accelerate and finish the year strong. We want further solidify our footprint in all our key regions while continuing to provide engaging and interesting future-focused learning.
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