How EdTech Can Improve Teachers and Children’s lives: Interview with Dr. Wendy Oke
This is part of the EdTech Female Founder (#EFF) interview series brought to you by SuperCharger Ventures.
What inspired you to start your EdTech Founder journey?
My grandfather went from a makeshift hut to a supreme court justice. He always believed in the power of a quality education. While studying preschool education, I met many teachers and parents, who just like my grandfather, believed in the potential of each child to change the world, if given the opportunity. However, rather than focusing on guiding all children to reach their potential, preschool teachers were spending most of their time on paperwork, documenting compliance and educational goals.
My doctoral research indicated that teachers spent up to 4 hours per day, on paperwork. Many teachers were not paid for the time spent on paperwork and were also experiencing burnout symptoms. Some preschool owners were also living in fear of unannounced compliance and safety inspections. They were required to document and show compliance but were overwhelmed by the various regulatory standards. I wanted to help preschool teachers return to what they love doing most, educating and caring for young children, while still providing safe learning environments. As a result, TeachKloud was born.
Describe your company in one sentence.
TeachKloud helps preschool teachers comply with regulations, communicate with parents and provide fun and educational learning opportunities for children
What should an aspiring EdTech founder know before initiating their startup journey?
It is the most challenging, yet rewarding thing you will do.
What has been the most difficult moment as a founder and how did you overcome it?
Covid-19 has been one of the most difficult times for our business. However, this has enabled us to enhance our offering by improving our service and adding further benefits for our users. We are not sure what the future holds, but we strive to make beneficial software that will support teachers and parents in creating enriching learning environments for all children.
What can the EdTech industry do to improve the gender gap?
I would start off by quoting Martin Luther King Junior who said that “an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” CEO’s and boards need to engage in a mind-set shift regarding the importance of diversity and inclusion; confronting one’s own bias first and challenging previously held assumptions is the first step. Once we engage in continuous self-reflection, we can then begin to engage in meaningful conversations in the workplace. Then we can begin planning and implementing intentional training on diversity and inclusion.
I also believe that when we see in-justice within the workplace, we need to speak up and challenge it immediately. Importantly, actually having diverse workplaces would automatically bring change because workplaces would be representative of the world. Research indicates that “ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their peers.” Ethnically and gender diverse companies also have incredible benefits for work culture and productivity. Lastly, I would echo Jesse Jackson who stated that “inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.”
Can you tell us about a role model of yours?
Yes, my grandfather! He showed me that anything is possible with a bit of luck, perseverance and talent.
Can you tell us of an example of when you had to pivot?
At first, I had the idea of a resource website, which would give informational content for preschool teachers on compliance. However, upon speaking with and surveying over a thousand teachers and parents, I soon understood that the problems that teachers were facing, needed a better solution. I returned to the drawing board and asked teachers and parents what would help solve their problems. Parents needed an easy way to communicate with teachers and keep abreast of their child’s learning, while preschool owners wanted software that would help them manage each area of the preschool. This included business and financial records, compliance, staff and child records. This paved the way for the development of TeachKloud. TeachKloud now provides features such as attendance tracking, instant-messaging with parents, risk assessments and cleaning sheets for Covid-19, digital enrollment, children’s records, learning journals, accident forms and much more.
During Covid-19, many pre-school’s closed. However, we still wanted to provide value for our customers who now had a greater reliance on digital content, communication tools and on-demand training. Kloud Academy was born from this need. The e-learning platform provides free and paid training on everything from Guiding Children’s Behaviour to Digital Marketing and Homeschooling video for Parents.
What will you consider as success in 5 years from now?
Doing the best I could to make an impact in young children’s lives.
Looking back, what advice would you have liked to have received before starting your company?
Don’t hesitate, start today.
Anything else You’d like to share?
Sometimes, we, as women, tend to suppress our accomplishments in fear of being seen as arrogant. I think we, as women, need to be confident and proud of our triumphs…. Mind you, I’m still working on this myself.
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