Expanding intellectual horizons with CultureRun (Updated): Page 2 of 2
By Gabey Goh September 12, 2013
Growing the community
The August re-launch of the site is only the first phase of CultureRun’s ambitions for the marketplace.
Low shares that plans for the next two to three months include improving the platform’s features, such as refining the refund system, streamlining the process of linking up venue partners with teachers, along with enabling people to post up courses, adding a review system, as well as a whole host of community features.
When asked about the competition, Low reports that in Malaysia, the platform doesn’t have a direct competitor, but rather indirect ones in the form of tuition centres, community centres and existing class providers.
She also shares while initially launched to aid individuals who wanted to teach, the team is now currently developing its system to work in collaboration with existing class providers and organisations.
“So in the future, we will have tools, management features and the community to help them work in collaboration with us and manage their own classes and workshops,” she adds.
She noted that similar startups do exist – however, they are based outside of the region such as Dabble, Skillshare and Classtivity in the United States and Skill kindle in India.
Both Low and her sister do not boast a background in business, hailing from an arts background instead.
“One of the toughest things has definitely been learning how to run a business. My sister and I had absolutely zero business experience or knowledge. We literally jumped in completely in faith and it has been a very steep learning curve in every aspect.
“We also knew nothing about tech, despite starting a tech company – so that was really tough as well, as we had to learn everything through experience and trial and error,” says Low.
She says that another challenge has been in creating a market for what CultureRun offers.
“Being one of the first skill-sharing platforms in South-East Asia, we were stepping into unchartered territory. Peer-to-peer marketplaces are not as huge in Malaysia as they are in the West, though they’re definitely growing.
“We also realised that peer-to-peer marketplaces for services are still quite a new thing here,” she says.
According to Low, CultureRun initially wasn’t something that people would readily use as people here tend to see learning as something you do to get your straight As, to get into a good university which will land you a perfect job.
“But we are going around saying that no, learning doesn’t work that way. Which in traditional Asian mentality, is pretty strange as learning tends to equal an education – it’s not really a community-based or a personal thing.
“I was a horrible student, but I loved learning. However, we seem to live in a society where it doesn't matter if you’re passionate about something, or have vast knowledge on a certain topic.
“If you don’t have the qualifications for it, it doesn't mean much. The most it can ever be is a ‘hobby’ – something to occupy your time with, when not doing more ‘important’ things,” she laments.
In her view, many students come away with no confidence in their skills garnered from outside formal education systems, and are fearful to mention them unless they've been validated through a certificate or other formal qualifications.
It is a state of things that the CultureRun team is trying to change with its venture: To help people realise that their skills are pretty important; that learning is not just about content, it’s about cultivating a curious mind, discovering your own personal skills, passions and abilities and choosing to develop them further.
“And what’s cooler is that they can monetise what they love doing as well, by sharing it with other people,” Low says.
Despite the many challenges and obstacles faced in the entrepreneurial journey to date, Low and her sister remain dedicated to their vision.
“At the end of the day, we chalk it off as a great learning experience and move on,” she says.
To explore CultureRun, click here.
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