With a vision to to become the go-to language school for language education in Singapore, education startup Headstart Language aims to develop students into multilingual speakers who can make a difference globally.
I sat down with Headstart Language’s founder and CEO, Ruzaini to discuss future plans and how, together with his team, he is pushing for quality yet affordable language education for the masses.
Hello Ruzaini, thank you for taking the time off your busy schedule to join me! Let’s jump in straight to your story. What is the most memorable experience you can share starting up this business?
I definitely had many memorable experiences when I first started out my journey as an entrepreneur. However up to this day, I can still clearly recall the first time we moved in to our new office unit. I remember thinking to myself back then, “Oh my god, this is really happening”.
What inspired you to start Headstart Language?
A few months before I started the business, I just started dating my current girlfriend, who is Thai. She encouraged me to pick up Thai language and I remember signing up for a Thai course. There were about 12 other students in the same class and I said to myself that this seem like a successful business. The next day, I was having coffee with my, now, business partner and told him all about it. He replied me with just three words “Let’s do it.”
Headstart Language was founded in 2019. How have your objectives and goals changed since the company has grown?
When we first started out, we wanted to solve the problem by directly addressing students who wished to learn the language for leisure and travel. However, due to the ongoing pandemic and the closure of international borders, we later realized that in order to build a scalable and profitable business model that could stand the test of time, we actually needed to address those who wish to learn the language for work-related and business reasons as well.
You are based in Singapore. What is your opinion on the environment for creating a language institution there?
Singapore is repeatedly one of the cities with the most diverse culture and highest quality of education making it a suitable education hub for attracting students all over the region to come over and learn a new language. Building up reputation as an elite institution is the critical element for a thriving ecosystem and, ultimately, for success in this space.
The reskilling and upskilling courses sector is currently booming and learning solutions have risen due to the COVID pandemic. What differentiates Headstart Language from other course providers?
We offer a flexible learning environment that allow students to pick language courses most suitable to their learning needs. For example, if a student wishes to learn a language to attain business proficiency in an online one-on-one setting, we would be able to provide the right tutor, platform and learning materials to ensure the student’s learning potential is maximised.
How are you fighting the “freelance market” for private tutoring sessions?
Education is very much about the quality and overall value of the service. The freelance market has always been seen as a more affordable alternative for customers with tighter budgets. Therefore, offering our services with much better quality for an affordable price will eventually edge out the freelance market.
These are challenging times for many early-stage companies. What are some marketing strategies Headstart Language is adopting at the moment and would be able recommend to other B2C startups?
Focus on how customers have looked at or requested certain products and services in the past. You do not need to do anything funky with your marketing strategies; just do it the way it’s always been done. Look for the right keywords to target for your SEO and SEM and reach out to audiences on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
What exciting things can we expect from Headstart Language in the next 12 months?
We want to become a role model for education businesses in Singapore. We are incredibly passionate about this space and want to convince many other entrepreneurs to build companies in this sector as well. By proving that it is also possible to build large-scale companies out of this, it hopefully attracts more and more people to do so similarly. We need to slow down the rapidly increasing prices in education and at the same time, be sustainable as a business while being able to provide more affordable education to the masses.
Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring enterpreneurs looking to build their own business?
Be sure to start small. I really can’t stress this enough but people are always tempted to go big with their ideas. However, many great businesses start off as some kind of sideline, a relatively safe approach which will help you validate your business with minimal risk. Once the business starts gaining traction, you can then scale accordingly. Remember to always focus on delivering real value to the customers. Understand exactly what your customers are looking for and work towards delivering that.
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