By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly
What do you get when one combines their passions of engineering and education?
Ridvan Aliu will tell you. Aliu created EDUonGo, a cloud-based education startup that lets anyone create their own online schools and academies. Aliu was trying to set up a virtual academy to train his remote engineers in Kosovo for his other company.
“I was in need of a virtual environment for my own academy back in 2010,” Aliu said. “I was looking all over trying to find something that could be up and running, but there wasn’t much out there.”
Aliu brought in former manager Steven Yee as the COO and friend Nick Scott as the CFO. Aliu and Yee both immigrated to the United States from Kosovo and Hong Kong, respectively, when they were teenagers. They share a love for education and computer engineering.
The two previously worked together at Bsquare and Microsoft, but when Aliu decided to start his own business, Yee jumped on board as an executive, as well as the company’s first angel investor.
The startup was officially established in May 2012, and launched in January 2013. Currently, 1,500 schools in 109 countries are signed up and running EDUonGo. Its biggest client is Australia, in the professional development and continuing education sectors.
EDUonGo is for any individual, entrepreneur, or expert who is interested in creating his or her own educational training platform, said Aliu. The majority of EDUonGo users are in professional development. The users are individual trainers or small businesses that create their own academies to train others about their product or service. The platform can help individuals serve quality education by creating a course catalog under their own brand or domain. It takes less than five minutes to get a company set up with EDUonGo, said Aliu.
“We keep in mind the way technology moves forward. We made EDUonGo compatible with the iPad, Android tablets, and other mobile devices,” Aliu said.
Aliu hopes to spend the next decade or two working in the field of education with his new company, which he said is projected to earn $2 million next year.
“Education is a noble industry so I love contributing to it. I love what we’re doing with EDUonGo.”
There is a new trend called “flip-learning,” he said, in which schools engage their students outside of the traditional classroom. EDUonGo has been helpful in implementing this type of learning in schools.
“EDUonGo stimulates learning for K-12,” said Aliu. “A lot of teachers pre-record sessions and then have students watch the lectures at home. Teachers can leverage time in the classroom to do other activities, such as homework or Q&A time.” Aliu said one particular school in Michigan had great success on flipping the entire school with EDUonGo.
Yee was born in Hong Kong and moved to Seattle when he was 17. Though he encountered challenging language barriers at first, he quickly soared to the top of his class in both math and science. He later studied computer engineering at the University of Washington.
Yee started his career off as a software tester at Microsoft, and quickly became a key developer for three different startups in Seattle. Two of those startups went public, including Bsquare and another company that helped build the first Apple iPod. Though Yee had experienced solid careers in the corporate tech world, he enjoyed working at startups the most.
Yee described EDUonGo’s goals, “We want to build a great company,” he said. “A place where everyone works as a team to achieve great things. A place where everyone is passionate and loves what they are doing.”
Yee credits his Chinese background for his appreciation of education. He also values teamwork and financial savings.
“Education is really the foundation for who we are and everything we do,” Yee said. “More importantly, education is not about which college you went to or how many degrees you have. It is about becoming a lifelong learner. Most true learning doesn’t happen until you start your working career!”
The team recently won the Innovator Award at the first TechFlash Cup startup competition. (end)
For more information, visit www.eduongo.com or youtube.com/watch?v=3m-9LnPrGzk.
Nina Huang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.