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Singapore edutech startup Rolljak taps into Philippine market through GIA Manila program


Accessing a new market is never a seamless process. Navigating the nuances of a new business culture far from home will require the right kind of local support and network. This is what the Global Innovation Alliance Program aims to address. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines remains to prove itself to be an exciting and vibrant market to explore, and this is shown through the continued success of the GIA Manila program, having been able to run 4 batches now. In its most recent cohort, a startup worth shining the spotlight on is Rolljak, a company that graduated from both GIA Manila and Jakarta with flying colors.


Rolljak is more than just a gamified learning platform. It's a confluence of a real-time collaboration platform and a game-based learning platform, enhancing productivity. It's going beyond just what can be done in game-based learning and the gamification of education in general by trying to introduce 21st-century learning competencies in a way that is very accessible for anyone, anywhere in the world, where they don't have to change the way they do things.


Rolljak’s customers are primarily educational institutes, enterprises, corporate trainers, or anywhere where there is a need for assessment, discussion, and collaboration. As a software as a service, they license the product and integrate it into their workflow and existing learning management systems. This brings the whole experience full circle.


With eight years of running edutech and gaming companies under his belt, Aditya founded Rolljak in order to potentially solve a series of problem statements he’s come across from years of experience in running training programs, innovation and design thinking, hackathons, and boot camps. He made sure that these solutions were instilling innovation, active, and open-ended learning in a way that was approachable and accessible. Resulting from the surge of online training workshops and online education is what Aditya calls Zoom graveyards, a scenario where a lecturer ends up talking to a wall of turned-off cameras, leading to an all-time low audience engagement.


To address this issue, Rolljak introduces game-based learning that truly emphasizes engagement with the use of bright colors, sounds, and mini-games, all while being able to quantify that engagement and involvement in a scalable and effective manner.


Addressing Organic Growth through Market Expansion

Since its inception, Aditya has been able to truly validate these solutions, so much so that he was able to garner organic traction even before launch. Interestingly, he noticed engagement coming out of countries like the Philippines from educators coming from well-reputed schools like Xavier School and Immaculate Conception Academy during their open beta. At some point, about 3,000 registered users from the Philippines’ Department of Education were on Rolljak, ultimately contributing to the direction of the product, even leading them to launch an Ambassadors Program in the Philippines called Rolljak Pilipinas – a platform for educators to sport Rolljak within the education community, all before their launch.


Paying close attention to their organic growth, it was only natural for Aditya to take the step of having their ear on the ground. To make this step, the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) Manila Program served as the vehicle for them to completely immerse themselves into and access new inroads in the Philippine market. This followed their successful participation in GIA Jakarta. As one of the best-performing startups in the GIA Manila Program, Aditya was able to successfully get in touch with multiple stakeholders and movers in the education sector, from universities to corporates who made use of Rolljak’s training tools.


Let’s Talk Results

Highlighting some of their key success stories in the program, Rolljak was able to explore and maximize the mentor network provided by the program as shown by his paid pilot with a manpower and consulting firm, Human Capital Asia. As an organization involved in a lot of leadership training which requires higher order thinking skills, and online group discussions, Rolljak was able to allow them to execute structured conversations and high-involvement planning workshops for 85 people with their solutions. Also solving issues of Philippine connectivity and bandwidth, these sessions could be accessed on a mobile device. Moving forward from the successful paid pilot, are promising discussions to roll out Rolljak to a much larger audience, where the potential for scalability and latency is exciting not just for the startup, but for the end client and end user as well.


Allowing Rolljak to further tap into the education sector, they were also introduced to the tech incubator of one of the leading and most prestigious universities in the Philippines, De La Salle University. From here, they were connected to The Academic Support for Instructional Services and Technology (ASIST), the support unit which focuses on dynamic training programs for the Lasallian deans and faculty by addressing the learning styles and instructional needs of the digital learners through the use of various multimedia technologies, which is in line with Rolljak’s visions, to say the least. They will do a lot of training for innovation and corporate training as well, which Aditya sees a lot more avenues for exposure through their network through a possible pilot program or a reseller program.


The GIA Manila program also gave Rolljak the opportunity to strengthen its existing ties with Xavier School, for example, where their teachers are their biggest champions anywhere in the world, allowing the onboarding process to be much easier thanks to the internal push within the organization. Eventually, Aditya was able to open an enterprise trial for its teachers and got connected to their learning management system. From here, they envision getting Xavier into a teacher certification program to continue and broaden their engagements.


These are just a few of the many introductions and communications which came from the GIA Manila network, mentor support, workshops, panel discussions, in-market immersion, and Plug and Play’s APAC Summit.



Key Learnings

For Rolljak, a clear next step for them is to finally have boots on the ground, a decision that was made and reaffirmed after finding it a pleasure doing work in the Philippines so far; one of the learnings he’s gotten from his clients’ generous support and excitement for Rolljak. ”They (Filipinos) will get behind you 100%, and that's what is really important for young companies, young startups like us, because you need that support. You need that user love, but I think all that is built inside out. And when people do see positive externalities coming out of interacting with your product or service, they will do their best to support you.” Aditya exclaims.


Aditya shares, “I think the program reinforced how amazing the people are in the Philippines, and it's just a very positive bright vibrant energy that you know they bring. This was our first trip to the Philippines, so I didn't really have much of an expectation, but if I had any, they were definitely surpassed. I thought that the program did a great job at exposing you to both the macro effects of the nuances of the market and how to navigate a market.” Through the in-market immersion, he also mentions that he learned that the Edutech ecosystem is quite popular in the Philippines as the educators are its greatest ambassadors, which truly provided Rolljak a soft landing in the market.


When asked what Aditya’s key takeaways from this experience were, he advises, “ I think some people are just there to explore the market. But in any case, if you're really sold that you want to be in this market and you really want to move into it and capture it, there's a lot of leg work that is involved. There's no substitute for hard work. Though we may have had organic growth in the Philippines, converting organic growth to actual business outcomes would not have been possible without Plug and Play. And you know, the team running it is just fantastic. So to me, this market access program is God-sent and it's also a no-brainer for anyone who's actually very interested to enter into the Philippines market.”


📢 Last call for applications! Apply now to expand into the Philippines!

Don't miss your chance to access the exciting and vibrant market of the Philippines with the Global Innovation Alliance Program. The program offers the right kind of local support and network to navigate the nuances of a new business culture far from home. The application for the GIA Manila B5 program closes on February 17th, so act fast. Join the program and get access to the mentor network provided by the program and explore exciting opportunities to strengthen existing ties with universities and corporates, just like Rolljak did. Apply now and be one of the best-performing startups in the GIA Manila program!


 

Rolljak is part of our GIA Manila Acceleration Program Batch 4 which seeks to help Singaporean startups expand their market reach to the largest emerging market economies in Southeast Asia.


The GIA is an initiative of Enterprise Singapore (ESG), in partnership with IMDA. Comprising a network of Singapore and overseas partners in major innovation hubs and key demand markets, GIA programmes focus on technology and innovation. Plug and Play is Singapore’s GIA Partner in Jakarta and Manila. Find out more about our GIA Manila program here.

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