What’s your story?
Growing up, tuition was necessary for me. I went from an F to an A in Mathematics, and that helped me earn a good degree and good career options. That’s when I realized that finding the right tutor could change a person’s life as it did for me.
During my corporate days, I travelled around the world and discovered that unlike
Singaporeans, not everyone in the world has access to quality education. This inspired me to create Knovo (Knowledge Network Optimized for Virtual Operations) which connects qualified educators to learners from all over the world digitally without breaking the bank.
What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me the most about EdTech is the ability to enhance, impact education at scale and help shape the future. Technology has the power to transform the way lessons are conducted in a more efficient way. From more functional improvements for a smarter teaching process to groundbreaking technologies that can help identify learners’ learning gaps and improve learning capacity. EdTech does not just have the ability to bring down costs and engage learners in innovative ways but also has the potential to equalize standards and democratization of education for everyone and anyone to learn globally.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
I’ve a strong drive to ensure that I can succeed in doing the things I love and be a positive catalyst in changing the world. Education is just a few things that can greatly impact the lives of people, combined with technology, the influence can be expedited.
The political philosopher Sun Yat-Sen said,
“The key to success is action, and the essential in action is perseverance.” One needs perseverance to continue grinding so that your actions become successful. Running a business is challenging, but to succeed, always make success personal responsibility and function as the CEO of your own journey.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Networking and building up a dedicated and capable pioneer team are the two most valuable and important skills I have learned during my journey. Networking leads to possible partnerships, investor connections and the endless possibilities to discover new opportunities out there, be it personally or professionally. Surrounding yourself with people who are compatible with your work style, people that you can trust, and respect are very important. This provides you with a strong mental foundation and gives you the drive to keep going as you can get their commitment and support when it comes to tough decisions or roadblocks.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
From my Mum:
“Think like a woman of action, but act like a woman of thought”
I’ve used this as my guiding principle on my path to success or in whatever I am embarking on. Because if you think like a woman of action, you will always have the drive. When you act like a woman of thought, you will need to ponder carefully when being faced with making important decisions in life. I’ve used this a lot in my business negotiations, it helps me to progress deals faster as it establishes relationships, trust, and foster respect with business partners.
Who inspires you?
Priyanka Chopra – She’s an Actor, an Entrepreneur, a Philanthropist and a Do-er!
She’s also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and her namesake foundation’s focused on health and education by providing support to unprivileged children. As a woman of status and influence, she’s leading and contributing to a good cause for society.
I hope to bring Knovo to a phase with the ability to shape the EdTech landscape to transform the lives of people through quality and affordable education. I’m determined to make a difference in as many children’s life in whatever big and small ways I could, starting with Knovo.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
Approximately more than 15 million girls of primary school age will never learn how to read or write compared to 10 million boys and we are talking about Primary school education, which is the beginning of anyone’s future. This situation is the fuel to my fire and the reason why I am committed to use EdTech to transform education at scale. Girls’ education not just empowers families, but communities and economies. As a result of HER education, we can all do better.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Instead of spending the money to outsource a team, spend the resources and time to build up a capable internal team to deliver your product roadmap. We had a few painful iterations starting out with an overseas vendor. Due to communication issues and gaps in the skillsets, we had to drop the ball. That led to delays which cost us a lot of effort to re-built and restart. Therefore, my advice is to assess the resource/talent skillsets you need to deliver your goals and engage a credible vendor or focus on building a capable internal team for the same purpose.
How do you unwind?
I exercise regularly to stay active like jogging, swimming or hiking, which partly is also because I enjoy good food (like most Singaporeans lol). I like to experiment and create different dishes from all over the world. As a student in high school, I took up arts and painting classes but it has been a good 10 years since I last picked up a canvas. With the recent pandemic situation, I have been inspired to pursue my passion for oil painting and Chinese calligraphy again as it is an outlet to train my creativity and ingenuity outside of work.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
It’s when you realise that what you have always envisioned as a core solution to generate business sales/interest does not necessarily translate to what the market truly wants. As a business owner – you have to maintain flexibility and open-mindedness in understanding the gaps in the market and adapt to changes that may give rise to some technical changes to your product. Through Knovo, we discovered the need for creative online marketing solutions, and as a result of this feedback, the ah-ha moments have played a critical role in evolving the product roadmap vision for our tech aspirations.
Everyone in business should read this book:
1) Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance.
He’s the model I aspire to be as a founder. Convicted and committed. Will make you believe that nothing is impossible in this world. Whether you love him or hate him he has proven himself as a business genius time and time again.
2) The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone –
Teaches the regret minimisation framework from corporate to start-up and all about its journey to disrupt.
Shameless plug for your business:
We pride ourselves on being the most customer-centric; progressive EdTech team of trailblazers from Singapore. We want to be the most valuable EdTech partner to our education institutions, enabling them to grow a digital presence and market access through our platform while keeping their expansion cost down. We provide customized marketing services to local education enterprises and helps elevate and promote their brands through Knovo live talk shows hosted personally by me and my team. I believe we’re the only EdTech Player who are breaking boundaries to integrate our education partners into the social media and digital marketing realm.
How can people connect with you?
You can visit my website at https://www.knovo.io and follow my Instagram account at @Kellytekaili to connect with me to chat about business and personal interests! Send us any business queries or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social Media Links?
Facebook [SG] https://www.facebook.com/knovo.official
Facebook [PH] https://www.facebook.com/knovo.ph
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.