- A Committed Dreamer -
If you've ever wondered how Edu Champ Academic came about, then look no further. We've interviewed our three founders and picked apart their brains to figure out what it takes to run a tuition school. Let's start with Allen, our Founder with big dreams and an even bigger heart.
ECA : How did Edu Champ started? ALLEN : I knew Teck Sion for a long time. I knew that he is very passionate in education. I wanted to do something in education, but I do not know how. So I approached Teck Sion and asked him what was the challenge when setting up tuition schools in the current market right now. One of the things he mentioned was that it took him many, many, many years before he’s able to start up another brand, which was Better Grades, and one of the challenges was definitely finance. So all these thing, we talked about it. We’re like “Okay, we finally have an idea. This is what we’re gonna do.” Together, we - myself, Teck Sion and Sumi - we came together and were like, let’s do this. ECA : How did the three of you run this operation together? ALLEN : Sumi is Teck Sion’s sister-in-law and she’s also very passionate teacher. But she’s not so keen on business operations and expansions. So, we were like, okay, great, we can split our work. Sumi became more like a Public Relations person; Teck Sion becomes more of an Operations person; I became more of a Finance person. Every one of us would chip in ideas on business development and this is how we formed our team. We registered our company in August 2016 and then, we worked very fast to grow out the outline of our first branch. ECA : How was Edu Champ’s progress in that first year? ALLEN : We had a plan. We knew exactly within 3 years, we need to build up to about 8 to 9 branches, from scratch. In the first year, we only thought about doing Rimba. Then, opportunity came. The agency called up and said, “Hey everyone, there’s a place in Mentiri. Would you like to have a look?” We were like “Oh, ho, this is a nice place! Let’s do this!” Then Berakas came and they were like “Oh, we have this place” and we were like “Oh this is cool! Let’s do this!” (Laughs) So we ended up speeding up our expansion plan by a full one year. Whatever we were supposed to be doing last year was actually supposed to be this year. (Laughs) Did we struggle? We struggled. Because a lot of money had to be pumped in to do renovations. ECA : Other than financially, were there any complications that come out that you didn’t expect? ALLEN : Yeah. We had to grow our team. We knew we needed help. But Teck Sion is very picky about choosing staff. Even with our admin, he interviews them and say “I wanna make sure we get those who are really good. Those who have potential.” So, when he chooses his team, the operational team, he spends a lot of time going through with it. Mm… Aside from that, we got our Berakas and Mentiri branches approved towards September, which means we missed out the last opportunity to register students. We were running the first 6 months with no students. It was mainly only overheads. It was bad timing. That’s why we were supposed to do this in the second year. But opportunity came, so we put it in the first year. But it’s a good thing. It’s a blessing in disguise, because right now, Mentiri is officially in its first year and it’s already outperforming every other branch. Rimba is in its second year. They are growing by about 50 percent right now. Berakas is doing well. We finally found a model for Berakas. So, it’s good. ECA : How do you see Edu Champ in the future, in the next 5 years? ALLEN : We want to be able to set standards of how tuition schools are being run in Brunei. We want those who are running home tuitions to come out, to use our facilities and teach. Which means we are moving forward with the MOE agenda. So that’s what we hope. Second thing is, aside from just academic, we want to be able to provide other classes, like, you know, Japanese, Coding, and all this. So that they understand, it’s not just academic. With this, hopefully more teachers will come in, then, we’ll be able to have really good teachers for every subjects. Then, in the future, when we want to build our own school, we already have the best teachers in Brunei.
It's no wonder you inspired Teck Sion to take a leap of faith with you, Allen. Your dreams might be big, but you go the extra mile to make it happen. We are honoured to have you lead the way for us and we hope your big dreams for ECA come true!