Solution Overview

Solution Name

TULA Supercharged ⚡️

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One-line solution summary

A supercharged learning platform connecting students and educators, effectively delivering 21st century learning in a fun and accessible way.

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Pitch your solution

In the last year, COVID-19 has accelerated the ability to reach people online. Mobile technology and internet has become more affordable in the Philippines, narrowing the digital divide between high-income and low-income families.

There are also many Filipinos that would make amazing educators. Graduating students and young professionals that have been brought up to be nurturing, engaging, and passionate about kids.

However, current EdTech players are focused on delivering on only one component of learning, whether just asynchronous content or just tutoring. These providers are not unlocking the potential of their teachers nor making learning fun for their students.

We want to unlock the potential of ordinary people to be great educators so they can do the same for their learners by creating the ultimate platform that's:

  • Fun - as addictive as Tiktok
  • Effective - using pedagogy based on the science of learning
  • Holistic - covering 21st century skills to allow them to succeed at anything
  • Accessible - leveraging popular platforms and a freemium model with cross-subsidization from wealthier students 

This platform will bridge public school students and aspiring educators together, not just by matching supply and demand like a marketplace, but by supercharging aspiring educators with high quality training and supercharging learners by giving them access to a complete learning program, through a mix of online channels:

  1. Asynchronous theory through an extensive video library (e.g., Khan Academy) 
  2. Asynchronous practice through interactive games (e.g., Duolingo)
  3. Synchronous coaching and feedback through affordable small group live sessions
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Film your elevator pitch.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Increase equitable access to quality learning opportunities through open sourced, offline, or virtual models, especially for underserved learners in low connectivity environments

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines
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Is your solution working in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and/or Malaysia?

  • Philippines
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What specific problem are you solving in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and/or Malaysia?

Public school students don't have access to high-quality learning. Most content taught in schools is boring (not relevant to their current context nor interesting enough to compete with other distractions) and not delivered effectively (with outdated pedagogies that counter the latest in science of learning). This was true even before the pandemic, with the Philippines placing nearly last in both TIMMS 2019 and PISA 2018.

With COVID, things are even worse. Schooling is reduced to modular handouts that students answer independently, putting the burden on struggling parents. According to PBEd, 1 out of 4 parents believe their children are not learning at all under this current set-up.

Moreover, not much learning support exists for teachers. Existing EdTech players don't provide much training for their tutors. 1,179 schools were also forced to close, leaving many teachers unemployed. Many Filipinos could be great educators, but don't have the proper training or current opportunities to do so.

On the flip side, the pandemic has also presented great new opportunities with Filipino attitudes towards digital solutions steadily changing. Internet penetration in the country rose to 67% in 2021, increasing by 4.2 million users since 2020 (DataReportal). Moreover, Save the Children found that 83% of the learners they surveyed have adequate internet connection, while 86% have access to an internet-capable device.

We are not only bringing the growing 10 million public student population together with educators with great potential, but arming both groups with amazing guidance and content.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our solution is primarily targeted towards elementary and secondary public school students. In the last 6 years, we have been in touch with hundreds of parents through our physical learning centers in  public and low cost school communities. Having been embedded in these communities, we have gotten to know their most prevalent concerns well.

Before COVID-19, most public school students had very little enrichment options in their lives outside of school. And even schools struggled to engage students due to problems in class size, teacher quality, and extracurricular offerings. After school, extreme tropical weather and safety issues made it difficult for kids to stay outside for long.

Moreover, parents usually weren't around and had to resort to technology to "babysit" their children to keep them off the streets. Students thus spent most of their time on their own, glued to their devices, while living in cramped homes with multiple family members.

With COVID-19, the home life of the average student has further deteriorated. Continued heightened restrictions have meant that those below the age of 18 have not been able to go out of their homes since the start of the pandemic. This has lead to students spending even more of their time isolated on their devices.

While this poses a serious problem for society in Philippines, we believe we can leverage the growing tech connectivity to reach these students and unlock their potential. 



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How does the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge?

Our supercharged platform addresses the Challenge by revitalizing online learning in the Philippines, making it: 

  • Fun & Holistic - Our solution demonstrates an understanding of what's really missing in the market - access to affordable online programs that go beyond the outdated academic curriculum and make learning actually enjoyable. Traditional Filipino educators aren't able to properly leverage technology to make learning interesting and engaging, enough to compete with other distractions. Our platform aims to produce practical content and train teachers to make learning truly addictive, while helping learners develop key 21st century life skills and growth mindsets at home.
  • Effective - We create content for our learning experiences and training based on the best practices of the world’s leading education innovators, psychologists and neuroscientists, and employers of the future, while leveraging a multi-stakeholder approach to evaluating and improving our programs. We don't just get feedback from students, but from their parents and our own educators too.
  • Accessible & Affordable - We are able to uniquely address barriers to adoption by creating a middle ground between accessibility and effectiveness, without compromising on the quality of delivery. Through our affordable freemium model, we can serve a sizable part of the bottom-of-the-pyramid learners. These are internet-enabled learners from low - middle income families, which account for 65% of Philippine population. Furthermore, this supercharged platform is based on already existing TULA online programs and so has the capacity to be scaled to  thousands of learners and hundreds of teachers easily with proper funding.




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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: A project, initiative, venture, or organization applying its research, product, service, or business model in at least one context or community
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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Elise Zulueta (Chief Operating Officer of TULA Philippines)

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology
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What makes your solution innovative?

Our supercharged platform will be the complete package - built off the best in EdTech (Khan Academy, Duolingo, Byju) and consumer tech (Grab, Spotify, Netflix), tailored to the Philippine market.

Through a freemium model, learners can access 3 types of complementary learning experiences (that can also stand alone):

  1. Theory - Learners will have free unlimited access to engaging, bite-sized videos in math, English and Life Skills Missions. These lessons will be benchmarked against the K-12 and other leading curricula in academics and 21st century skills, and conducted in the national vernacular (Taglish).
  2. Practice - Learners will also have free access to gamified interactive workbooks and activity prompts so that they can directly apply what they learned. Learners are able to jump between carefully distilled topics, making learning self-directed. Both asynchronous components will leverage ads to lower costs.
  3. Coaching and Feedback - Learners that need more help can avail of live coaching and feedback sessions in small groups or one-on-one.

Wealthier students can also access this platform, but will need to pay for the asynchronous features and pay higher session rates.

Our solution will also give aspiring educators an alternative pathway to education through our apprenticeship program. Ordinary people will be trained/ upskilled as asynchronous content developers or online teachers in a manner similar to the process for learners - through self-paced modules and continuous observation and feedback.

Our solution also presents future opportunities to supercharge other education providers that occupy slightly different markets, like in early childhood development or higher education.



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Have you tested your solution’s approach? If so, how?

We have already developed parts of the platform through our current online offerings, which consist of live programs. 

We haven't been able to deliver these programs on scalable tech platforms yet as we have focused on trying to survive as a business in the last year. The prolonged COVID restrictions in the country forced us to close all our physical centers in 2020 and we had to rebuild our learner base from scratch.

Although these current programs are not yet scalable, we have been able to deliver lessons in 21st century skills and core academics in a fun and accessible manner to a steady following of private school parents and some public school scholars.






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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Our supercharged platform is a suite of interconnected services that can also stand alone (Theory, Practice, and Coaching & Feedback).

For the pilot's first phase (2021-2022), we plan on making the content completely website-based, leveraging existing, already accessible platforms like Youtube and the Google product suite. All live sessions will be conducted on Google Meet, as it has been identified as the preferred video conferencing application by public school parents (being less data-intensive and with more affordable data package for Google products).

Our educator apprenticeship program follows a similar structure and thus  makes use of the same asynchronous modes (theory and practice on teaching techniques delivered through Youtube and Google survey) and synchronous modes (Live feedback delivered through check-ins and class observations through Google Meet).

For the pilot's second phase (2022+), we plan on having a mobile app platform built, one that will integrate the Youtube video library with practice activities (that are even more gamified) which will automate personalization and arm educators with key insights in order to provide great feedback during live sessions. We also aim to incorporate data analysis and machine learning to make personalization smarter and more automated with notifications and nudges of content that will guide their learning asynchronously.

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What is your theory of change?

Our Theory of Change:

  • Inputs: We will provide training and guidance for aspiring educators in the Philippines to transform them into amazing content developers and teachers in order to make online learning fun, effective, and holistic.
  • Activities: We will build a supercharged learning platform that will consist of free asynchronous theory (via video library), free asynchronous practice (via gamified activities), and affordable synchronous feedback (via live sessions in small groups) for public school students.
  • Outputs:  These online learning experiences will help more students develop the right character, attitude, 21st century skills, academic AND practical knowledge.
  • Short term outcomes: Students become great learners that can adapt and thrive in any learning environment.
  • Long term outcomes: Students become lifelong learners with the ability to pursue different meaningful career opportunities of their choosing.

We have already done this for kids offline through the 8 learning centers that we opened in the Philippines and Pakistan prior to the pandemic. In the last 6 years, we've recruited and trained over 50 passionate educators from across various industries, partnered with over 35 public, private, and homeschool partners and reached over 3000 public and private school students. Since we started, we've helped change both learner and parent mindsets towards holistic learning, witnessing kids unmotivated and reserved transform into student leaders and risk-takers - with 95% of our center learners reporting an increased motivation in learning.  

Since closing our centers, we have continued our work online, however, focusing primarily on private school learners, who can afford the regular rates of our programs. Additional funding will help us create more accessible platform so that we can focus our outreach on public school learners once more.

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Which target population(s) does your solution address?

  • Learners to use at home
  • Parents to use with children
  • Teachers to use directly
  • Teachers to use with learners
  • Used in public schools
  • Used in private schools
  • Used in ‘out-of-school’ centers
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What are the key characteristics of your target population?

  • Children & Adolescents
  • Peri-Urban
  • Urban
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
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Which categories best describe your main EdTech product or service?

  • Communication, collaboration, and networks
  • Educator training and capacity building
  • Personalized and adaptive learning
  • Platform / content / tools for learners
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We will measure our progress using the following indicators:

  • Reach - We will look at the number of learners using the platform once it is launched. Specifically, users that are only accessing the free asynchronous theory and practice modes and those also attending the synchronous feedback sessions.
  • Enjoyment - Because making learning fun has always been a core part of the TULA experience (and what kids love about TULA), we will make sure to measure learner enjoyment and satisfaction through regular feedback surveys directed towards both kids and parents.
  • Learning - Because we ultimately want to transform our users into lifelong learners, we will closely look at their performance in school assessments as a proxy indicator of their ability to learn. This will also be collected through regular feedback surveys.


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What are your impact goals for the next year, the next three years, and the next five years? How will you achieve them?

We aspire to hit the following impact goals:

  • Reach
    • In the next year: 10 additional educators supercharged; 1,000 learners reached (through synchronous feedback)
    • In the next 3 years: 100 educators supercharged; 10,000 learners reached (through both asynchronous and synchronous components)
    • In the next 5 years: 1,000 educators supercharged; 100,000 learners reached (through both asynchronous and synchronous components)
    • This will be achieved through the creation of a scalable and adaptive app platform after the first year that will allow us to leverage ads to offset costs.
  • Enjoyment & Learning
    • Each year: average a high learner satisfaction rate of 90%
    • Each year: platform users showing that they outperform their peers in school assessments by at least 20%
    • This will be achieved by leveraging regular user feedback to continuously improve on learning experiences.
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What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your impact goals?

  • Technology
  • Financing
  • Market entry
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Describe these barriers as they relate to your solution. How do you plan to overcome them?

Even if these barriers exist, we are confident that we can overcome them.

  • Technology & Finance - We haven't built the scalable tech platform yet, but access to developer tools is constantly changing and rapidly improving. We should be able to have simple app platform built but that costs a lot of money to develop. And right now, we are entirely self-funded and have focused on rebuilding our learner base and keeping our business afloat.
  • Market entry - To get parents and learners to adopt this new platform and get them to commit to investing in TULA, whether through regularly purchasing mobile data or paying for synchronous sessions, we will need amazing customer acquisition and retention systems. Luckily, we have been working on strengthening online customer engagement since pivoting online. 
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More About Your Team

Please provide a brief history of your organization. What was the motivation behind starting your organization and/or the development of your solution?

In 2015, we began deploying tech-enabled TULA Learning Centers focused on more than just academics, inspired by the question: could we help a learner develop significantly for just 2 hours a week

We built a great initial product in the Philippines and Pakistan, running fun and affordable after school learning experiences for thousands of learners, but struggled between 2017-2018 because of location issues and low interest from parents.

We started gaining traction again in 2019, cracking sales and marketing to reach our breakeven point. Then, COVID-19 hit.

Like many businesses, we were unable to operate under the continuing heightened restrictions and were soon forced to completely shut down our centers. We were left with no choice but to pivot online entirely to keep the business afloat, doing so in the matter of a month, ahead of most local education providers.

We restarted as an online tutoring program in April 2020, serving an entirely new customer base of private school students, but still committed to delivering fun, effective, and holistic learning. Since starting TULA online, we have conducted paid sessions for >600 enrolled learners, have been nearing our breakeven point once again (with reduced overhead costs), and have started to regain interest from public school parents.

In our process of rebuilding, we are emboldened by a new question that's very much similar to the call of the Octava challenge - how can we make TULA's online learning model more affordable and accessible for underserved learners?



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What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

Currently, TULA is comprised of a central team of 5 full-time managers, 2 full-time content developers and teachers, and 10 part-time content developers, teachers, and customer engagement representatives.

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How long have you been working on your solution?

In many different ways for 6 years, but focused on the deconstructed online model, only this year

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Our core team of co-founders has the combined experience and expertise to deliver this solution. 

  • Elise is TULA's chief operating officer. She designed TULA’s operational system and oversees recruitment, operations and customer engagement across the network. She has 8 years of experience in the education development sector, having also driven recruitment, training, and curriculum development at burgeoning not-for-profits like Teach for the Philippines and AHA! Learning Center.
  • James is the chairperson of TULA. He is a strategy leader with more than a decade's worth of experience advising and building organizations across the Asia-Pacific region through his work with Mckinsey and Pearson. At Pearson, he established and led operations at APEC Schools, a chain of affordable private high schools supported by Ayala and Pearson.
  • Mara is TULA’s chief innovation officer. She is the architect of TULA learning experiences and the coach development program. She has experience as a transformational teacher in rural communities in Tanzania and Kenya and leading private schools in the Philippines. She is currently pursuing her masters in Education Leadership at Harvard.

We have worked together for the past 6 years, building TULA learning centers, an already proven approach recognized by Globe Futuremakers and MIT Solve. And with our pivot to online learning, we have already started building and testing all the elements of the supercharged platform but for private school learners, which is a more demanding piece of the market.

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Provide an example of your Team Lead’s ability to conceptualize and implement a new idea.

Elise was the key driver of TULA's online pivot, optimizing training, data tracking, enrollment, and class management systems to fit a new online model.  Under her leadership, TULA was able to have complete online offerings ready by April 2020, when other providers were still trying to wait the pandemic out, seizing an early opportunity to leverage the fast-changing attitudes towards consumer tech and FinTech services of the Filipino middle class.

She made sure that the online pilot captured the essential parts of the TULA offline experience, while translating it to a complete online experience that could stand on its own. This lead to:

  • Unique holistic program offerings (core academics and life skills missions bundled together) in time for the early summer that led to the immediate enrollment of 65 learners, exceeding our initial target of 50.
  • Class structure and learning materials optimized for Zoom, with smaller class sizes, co-teaching with clear lead and support roles, and fun, gamified content with themes and interactivity. This led to a 74% learner retention rate for the next quarter.
  • Educator apprentice program adapted to a hybrid of asynchronous-synchronous learning, with a strong focus on building digital skills.
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What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

Having spent the last year focused on refining our synchronous program, we have only recently revisited partnerships opportunities in order to expand our reach. Our partners include:

  • Tutorko (an online marketplace for tutors) - We are creating co-branded math videos to help them establish their brand. We will be building off these videos to create the theory component of our supercharged platform.
  • Xendit (a Southeast Asian FinTech startup) - We've approached them with a sponsorship opportunity to help us bring back our offline public school learners. They have pledged to finance the enrollment of 10 learners in TULA programs for the next 5 years. We hope to engage more companies with our sponsorship program to give their social investment wider impact.
  • APEC Schools (a chain of low cost private schools) - We have a revenue-sharing agreement with APEC on TULA programs targeted to their learners. We hope to engage more schools and homeschool networks in similar ways to reach even more learners.
  • Edukasyon.ph (an EdTech platform for higher ed learners) - We are helping them create more holistic and effective content geared towards older students and parents that they can monetize.


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Partnership & Growth Opportunities

Why are you applying to the Octava Social Innovation Challenge?

We are applying to the Octava challenge in order to be able to return to our original social enterprise mission, which is to strengthen public school kids as much as we do private school kids. 

This challenge will give us access to the initial funding we need to jumpstart a pilot of our supercharged platform and immediately reach hundreds of public school learners. 

We would also greatly benefit from the wealth of resources that would be made available to the winners, specifically:

  • Learning and development modules aimed at refining your business model, theory of change, and plans for scaling;
  • Access to a network of resource partners, mentors, and coaches across industries and sectors

- So that we can learn from the latest in tech (as we come from an offline education background) to create a scalable and user-adaptive platform and so that we can explore other similar markets and potentially test out a version that is more broadly localized to the Southeast Asian context.



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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development
  • Network connections (e.g. government, private sector, implementation communities)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
  • Technology / Technical Support (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)
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Please explain in more detail here.

We are always open to help in lots of areas, as we grow and expand. As such, our partnership goals with Octava and Solve will be to leverage all resources available to help us build, scale, and improve upon our platform to ensure that it delivers on our standards of making learning fun, effective, holistic, and accessible to both public school students and private school students alike.

 Our stretch goals are to find similar local education providers focused on different student demographics (e.g. early childhood education and higher education) and apply the supercharged framework to their platforms and take the supercharged network to other Southeast Asian markets (e.g. Malaysia).

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Solution Team

  • James Centenera Co-Founder and CEO, TULA Philippines
  • ME ME
  • Elise Zulueta Chief Operating Officer, TULA Philippines
 
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