April 6, 2023

Revolutionizing Parent-Teacher Communication with Kinderpedia: The EdTech Solution for 103,000+ Users Worldwide

Revolutionizing Parent-Teacher Communication with Kinderpedia: The EdTech Solution for 103,000+ Users Worldwide
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Discover the story behind Kinderpedia, the EdTech startup that is changing the way parents are involved in their child's education.

In this episode, I chat with Evelina Nicola, the co-founder of Kinderpedia, about how to overcome challenges in building a successful startup, and from funding to convincing people of the value of your product.

You will also gain insights into the future of education and technology, including the integration of platforms such as Zoom and Stripe with Kinderpedia, and also hear more about her experiences in education, entrepreneurship, as well as her personal definition of wealth and life accomplishments.



Kinderpedia’s website:www.kinderpedia.co

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Past Guests:
Past guests on Innovators Can Laugh include Yannik Veys, Ovi Negrean, Arnaud Belinga, Csaba Zajdó, Dagobert Renouf, Andrei Zinkevich, Viktorija Cijunskyte, Lukas Kaminskis, Pija Indriunaite, Monika Paule, PhD, Vytautas Zabulis, Leon van der Laan, Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė.
Additional episodes you might enjoy:
#55 Yannik Veys - From creating the Uber for service professionals to growing Hypefury
#53 Tzvete Doncheva - Overcoming barriers to get into a VC with Tzvete Doncheva
#50 V...


I'm really excited about this. I'd like to introduce you to Evelina Nicola. She's the co-founder of EdTech startup, Kinderpedia. Kinderpedia has become one of the most appreciated digital solutions for communication and management in school institutions. It easily helps facilitate the involvement of the family with their child's school and is available in 17 countries with over 105,000 users. They're projected to do about 2.5 million in 2023, and they have over 2,000 customers.


Evelina, welcome to Innovators Can Laugh.


Hi, Eric. I'm happy to be here. Thank you for the invitation.


Yeah, no, my pleasure.


Okay, first question for you.


How did you come to the conclusion that your mom is the bravest person on earth?


It's easy. For a very long time, she managed to convince me that she's not afraid of spiders.


See, all women are afraid of spiders. My wife sees a spider in the other room, and it's like a little spider. And I go there with my weapon of choice, which happens to be like a tissue. And I get it.


I'm like, this is too easy. We just want to make you guys look brave.


Oh, that's it. That's it. But for your mom, she didn't need a guy to look brave.


She just did it, huh?


Yes, she did.


Yes, she did. And I'm a mother myself now, and I do exactly the same. And I have to tell you that as a mother, I realized that men are also afraid of spiders.


Spiders, crabs, nails, sometimes snakes, not to mention that. But as a mother, I also have to look brave.


So every time something weird comes up, I'm like, what this?


You know, and then inside, I'm like... I'm afraid of a few things, but in front of my kids, I put on that face.


You know, the brave face, and I'm not scared. Exactly. Okay. Yeah. Okay. All right. Very cool. Now your background is in marketing. You worked as a brand manager, also had head of marketing roles. You were a GM at an agency for a while.


How did you come up with the idea of starting Tinderpedia?


I think it would be funny because we are at an innovators can laugh event. If it wouldn't be actually sad, it starts with a question.


As a parent, you ask your child, what did you do today in school or kindergarten?


And you know what they answer, right?


Nothing. Fine. Fine. Yeah. Yeah. They don't tell you much. Yeah. Exactly. And as I was saying, it's funny at first, but then you realize that you are missing out on so much. And that was the insight that we got back in 2013 when we realized that it wasn't just one family. It wasn't just a situation of one child. It was actually all over the world.


Parents across the world are asking their children how their day has been, and they say, fine. And then years pass and they realize that they could have been more involved in their education. So that's the mission we started with to open a window for parents into children's education, starting from the early days and moving forward to the times when academics are not as well-off. And that's when academic progress is also important.


And it's not just a matter of, did you wash your hands well or did you sleep or did your colleague sting you or whatever?


Yeah. Yeah.


So was it your own kids that, when you experienced this issue, was it with your own kids who were responding fine?


When you asked them, how was your day?


It wasn't with my own children. I am a mother now, but I wasn't a mother back in 2013. It was with children of friends and family, which were very close to us. We had a lot of ambitious and achieving parents next to us, which were dropping off their children in kindergarten and then in school very early in the morning.


Maybe they weren't the ones to pick them up in the afternoon or at noon. Sometimes they were the grandparents or some nanny.


And then back at home at the end of the day, they were asking their children, so how was your day?


And they answered the classical fine. And we realized that also on the other side, there was a lot of frustration and miscommunication because the teachers themselves were striving a lot to reach out to parents, but they were doing it through several tools which were not built for education. They were sending out huge files in WeTransfer. They were sending enormous emails.


They were even sending SurveyMonkey links and all sorts of messages and attempts to reach out, which sometimes got lost in parents inbox, in the infamous groups and so on. So we realized that what these people actually needed was a tool.


Yeah, I'm laughing because I'm part of the WhatsApp group here. And as we know, I live in Romania and my kids, they're five and three, and I get ping notifications throughout the day. The good news is, is I'm not fluent in Romanian, so my wife doesn't count on me to respond or engage or interact. So that's her, you know, she's doing all that.


But I do like the fact that parents want to be involved. They want to collaborate. They want to be a part in this experience with their kids and with the teachers and with the school, because when I was a kid, there was no such thing. I think the parents went to the school one time a year and they sat with the teacher for a few minutes.


And then that's when she shared, you know, how Mike or Sally or Adam or whatever was doing in the school. But with this, you get an ongoing, you know, sort of like a feedback loop, how your kids are doing and the fun activities that you're doing. So I love this.


Now, I understand that you had to finance the project from your own resources for the first two or three years and you actually got some long-term paying customers.


What other challenges did you face in the beginning, Evelina?


It's true that we had a long bootstrapping period. It was actually an intermediary period because we started with a European financing of 135,000 euros, but that lasted for one year as much as the project lasted, the one we submitted and qualified for.


And then for two years and even slightly more than that, we had to finance the project and to push it forward from our own resources, which we were gathering from the agency activity. So that was indeed one of the biggest challenges at that time. The second was the fact that we were offering people a rocket at a time when they were hardly learning to ride the bike.


So as you were saying, the generations before us didn't have such a strong communication need. So parents were not, not to say so curious, they were not so aware of their role in children's education. And teachers on the other side thought that they were the only ones who needed to handle these aspects and that parents are only to be contacted when something bad happens. Right.


You know, when our parents were going to parent-teacher counseling, we were wondering whether we would ever see the light of day. I was sweating my ass off that entire day and wondering if I was going to get spanked at home or not, you know, wondering if the teacher was going to say, you know, that one time that Eric, you know, did this or made that bad grade or whatever.


Oh my God, that was like a very stressful day, that entire day.


Yeah, exactly. So that wasn't an opportunity back in the day. Teachers also didn't have this routine of talking to parents, of setting up the right messages, because you need to be, to pay attention to certain aspects, to gather the information in order to push it forward to the family. And in the end, this builds trust. But it took a lot of education on our side.


It took a lot of communication and a lot of persuasion to convince teachers and to convince schools in general that communicating with parents was an opportunity, that it was a responsibility both on the side of the school as on the side of the family to open up those channels of communication and to eventually start to collaborate. Because it's been proven. It's no longer a hypothesis.


Parent engagement in education is one of the strongest predictors of a child's success, not just in school, but also in life. But this wasn't always a statement.


I mean, it was, okay, should we really communicate with families?


Isn't it enough just to send them every once in a while something on WhatsApp or to do some troubleshooting when someone is upset that they lost a sock or whatever?


So we actually had to convince them that this is something they need to do on a permanent basis, that it's not just a cool thing. They bring up every once in a while, like, let's bring parents in, let's do some mingling, let's warm up to each other. And then for half a year, we let them be.


And obviously, the moment they realize that they have to do this, they realize that it's actually not easy. Because in order to communicate things coherently to families, you need to have an internal communication, which is coherent and which comes from an internal organization, which is also coherent. And that has been one of our third challenge to develop the product further.


Because what we came up with in the beginning, as I was telling you, was a communication tool. But we realized that for them to communicate better, they actually needed to get better organized. And to get better organized, they needed a management tool. So what we did in the coming years was to build Kinderpedia into complete management and communication tools for nurseries, kindergartens, and then schools. Okay.


Now, how did you start to get traction?


You said there was a lot of education.


Were you just knocking on different schools and asking to talk to the principal?


Like, what was your way of first getting the initial meetings and then getting user adoption as well?


What was your method, Evelina?


We did several things in those days. We relied a lot on communication. We said it's better to give in order to receive. We didn't do a lot of outreach, just knocking on doors and saying, hey, we have something.


Would you like to buy it?


We made it our business to learn as much as we can about how they work. So we did research on the side of kindergartens and schools with the teachers, with the managers. We did research with parents to understand what their needs are, what they want to find out, how frequently, which are the most accessible channels for them.


And from pushing this information forward to the community and bringing, trying to bring together as many ambassadors as possible, we connected with people and that we are happy and proud that they are still part of our community that already had a voice. And we explained to them what's our vision, what are our values, where we want to get. And they started joining our side, doing events together with us, communication campaigns.


And this is the way we started to grab people's attention. And from there, obviously, we also had the field team because there were no Zoom meetings at that time. We had the field team, which was going into kindergartens and later in schools, presenting the product, helping them with the onboarding, explaining why it's better than WhatsApp or Facebook groups or whatever other alternative tools they might have been using at that time.


So when schools start using this, when they discover Kindopedia, what is the first thing they really get excited about the majority of time?


It depends because now it's different than in the early days. If we look at how it was back in 2015, 2017 at that time, they were looking a lot at the reaction of parents, how enthusiastic they were, how collaborative they became all of a sudden. Now it's not just that because obviously as time has passed, some other communication tools got more refined. So it's not exclusively about communication.


But what I see that it's exciting, it's making them very excited, is that it replaces several other tools. Imagine that there are parents, I was actually in a meeting with a mother of a few days ago, and she was showing me what she was using in an international school, which is not our customers.


And she said, oh, so I have this app, but I also have two others that I want to show you. But on the other two, she wasn't even logged in. So she had to spend 10 minutes to recover her password, log into those platforms.


And what we hear from the parent side is that sometimes keeping up with children's activity in school or kindergarten is almost the size of a full-time job because you need to keep track in several apps. What changes all of a sudden when they come onto KinderPedia is that all those apps disappear. They no longer need to recover passwords on platforms that they do not use. They have everything in one place.


And it's the same with the teachers because instead of going to, I won't say names, one classroom management app to set up homeworks and a different app to communicate to families and a different app to track progress and maybe some other app to track attendance, now they have everything in one place. And this gives them a lot of confidence.


It's very important these days as we want to build teachers' digital competencies to give them the confidence that they can do it, to show them that they have the strength to master technology. It doesn't have to be a quiz or a maze. It has to be very straightforward, very intuitive. And this is what KinderPedia brings today. And this is what we get in most of our feedbacks.


My God, if I ever knew it could be so easy, I would have done it three years ago, five years ago.


Good, good. So this is amazing. You're expanding internationally. You're in several different countries.


How are you doing that?


Is it with a field team that's going out and trying to talk with schools?


How are you guys expanding?


We are a startup, so we are trying to be as efficient as possible. This is how we work. So we do a hybrid. We have local teams. We have a hub which we developed very nicely in Portugal because there we already have a cluster of users. And we are gradually building up the same in the Emirates.


And for other markets, we are either addressing them from those hubs or from our central office in Bucharest. All right. Okay.


What is your biggest goal this year, Evelina, for KinderPedia?


Our biggest goal this year on the commercial side is to strengthen our presence in these two areas, in these two clusters I've been telling you about in Western Europe and in the Arab countries. From there, we believe there's a huge potential to grow both towards Africa and towards Asia. And from a product point of view, we are looking to strengthen the particular aspects. On one side, our support on the academic side.


We have a student progress tracking module, which is doing a lot to show children's activity and their itinerary as they go through several years of school. And now we are developing this into a child portfolio. So every time something remarkable happens, what teachers track and add to the student progress tracking will also go to their portfolio.


So by the time they finish one cycle, they have their achievements all gathered up in a virtual file, which speaks about them, speaks about their strengths, about their vulnerabilities, about how a teacher can do personalized education for them. So that's the academic part.


And from a functional point of view, we are looking a lot towards how to integrate KinderPedia further, because we do realize that a successful platform is no longer working on its own. And we have several integrations today. We have integrations with Zoom for remote teaching or for hybrid education. We have integrations with Stripe on the financial management segment for parents to pay their tuition fees through the app without any difficulty.


And we are looking to build further on this opening up KinderPedia to the world.


Do you know how convenient that would be for my son's school?


So my wife is like the treasurer for my son's classroom. And she's in charge of like every month buying tissues and pens or colors or printer or ink or copier. But whenever there's something the classroom needs, the parents will pitch in and pay. So I feel like a drug dealer because I'm always going to the school and the principal or the teachers handing me an envelope.


And this is from so-and-so written on it. And there's money in it. It's like I'm doing something or I'm exchanging money like, OK, give this to the teacher. I'm putting the envelopes in my kid's bag. This would be so convenient because there's a lot of exchanging or transactions going on on a consistent basis for supplies that classrooms need. And it's the parents that are trying to coordinate.


And there's so much time that's wasted going back and forth on WhatsApp here between us.


I mean, for my wife, at one point, she was like, this is a full-time job.


You know, being the secretary or the handling all the money. And she got fed up. And one person, one parent even responded and said, oh, before I submit money, I want to see the receipts for everything. My wife said, listen, I don't work for you. I'm a volunteer here.


Are you out of your mind?


You know, so it's not just time saving on the school's part. It's a lot of it is on the parents part too, especially for the parents who have those roles where, you know, they act as the homeroom teacher.


I mean, secretary, treasurer, whatever you want to call it, you know, even like planning different things too. So I definitely see the why parents and schools love this. Next questions for you are a bit about rapid fire questions.


Evelina, I'm going to ask you these and just try not to think about them too much and just give me your first response that comes to you.


OK, you ready?


All right, here we go. All right.


Would you rather have twenty five thousand dollars cash or dinner with Ariana Huffington?




OK, I had the discussion with my son today and he said that cash is king. Right now it is.


Yeah, definitely right now. All right.


What's the most interesting thing that you have done in the last 26 days?


I grew a crystal out of water.


OK, OK. All right.


Very, very good.


Something that you bought at the store or something and you could just put it in water or?


Yes, yes. It's a kit for children. We are very much into doing experiments and the father is laughing at us. He's saying that I have this is the price I have to pay for not doing a lot of chemistry in school.


OK, next question.


If you were writing a guide to wealth and happiness, what one tip would you include, Evelina?


Spend time with your family.


OK, next question.


What did you consider was rich when you were growing up?


So, for example, when I was a kid and I saw that other kids, you know, they went to Disneyland or they went to a nice vacation. I thought those those people were rich.


What about you?


Buying two bagels every day.




Yes, one with salt and one with sesame.


OK, do you mean covrig?


Yes, yes, yes.


Yeah, covrig. For those for the people listening here, bagels are called covrig, but they're a little bit different. They're kind of like a pretzel. Very delicious. They got different types with cheese, chocolate, sesame seeds. I like the ones with cheese. My kids love the chocolate ones, of course.


Anyway, all right. Next question for you.


What is your greatest life accomplishment so far, Evelina?


My son.


OK, how old is he again?


Six. All right. We got we got we got to do a play date. My son's five and a half. Definitely. All right. All right.


OK, where can people learn more about you, Evelina?


They can learn more about what I do, not necessarily about me on LinkedIn. I'm quite active there and I would love for everyone who is involved in education and entrepreneurship or tracking or in Prosecco. Every once in a while to give write me a line.


OK, you heard it, folks. I'll include a link to Evelina's LinkedIn profile and the show notes. Thank you so much, Evelina, for being on the show. This was a pleasure. Thank you for inviting me. It was very nice talking to you.


Yeah, yeah. And for everyone, think about how inspired you feel right now from Evelina's story. Imagine you had missed out on that. So if you haven't already, give that subscribe button a push. That way you don't miss out on stories like the one that you're hearing right now.


Now, before you go, before you go with the rest of your day, I want you to hear something. You are awesome.


Yes, you.


Now, you might be saying, come on, Eric, you just had Evelina on the show. She is a rock star. She's killed in business that is in multiple countries, has thousands of users.


And while that may be true, if you are an entrepreneur, a business owner, a creator, a startup, whatever you want to call yourself, you are one of a very small percentage of human beings that have the courage and vision to create something new. You are taking an idea and making it into reality. And that's pretty amazing, which makes you awesome. All right.


Have a wonderful day and I'll see you on the next episode.