[Written in partnership with Supernewsroom, but the editorial team had full control over the content.]
Not too long ago, we wrote about the founding story behind the kids’ educational cartoon, Didi & Friends. The show came about when its creator discovered the effectiveness of educational content when delivered through cartoons. If done well, the content can be engaging, fun, and beneficial, especially for young children.
Sharing a similar belief is GuruPanda, a Malaysian edutech site for kids between the ages of 4 to 15. Instead of having teachers host live or pre-recorded lessons, GuruPanda is choosing to teach the Malaysian syllabus through cartoon videos and quizzes.
Just shy of 11 months after its launch in January 2021, GuruPanda has concluded its first round of crowdfunding via pitchIN on November 15, 2021. There, the platform successfully attracted investments totalling RM500,000.
A gap in user-friendliness
Kingsley Ting is the founder of GuruPanda. Having graduated from a London institution with Masters in Sciences in Risk Management and Financial Engineering, he later worked in Shanghai for 7 years, even setting up a startup there.
In 2017, Kingsley returned to Malaysia to take over as CEO for his family business, Big Apple Taska & Tadika, expanding the company from 5 centres in 2017 to 30 branches today. And then he moved into the edutech space.
When GuruPanda launched, lots of other online learning platforms had already mushroomed, with more on the way. But Kingsley still saw a gap in the e-learning market, particularly in other platforms’ interfaces, which he felt weren’t user-friendly enough.
And we found it difficult to disagree with Kingsley. We’ve written about a handful of edutech sites the past year, and many times, we couldn’t help but comment on the disorganisation of their interfaces in our pieces.
On the other hand, GuruPanda’s website is fairly easy to navigate, where you’ll find the different syllabi it offers neatly categorised on its home page. This is important since the ones using the site would either be parents or their children who may not be as tech-savvy.
The platform’s learning programmes are currently divided into 2 categories:
- English and Malay content for children between the ages of 4 to 7;
- Mandarin content based on the SJKC syllabus for science, maths, history, and Mandarin for those in the 10 to 15-year-old group.
Staying focused on the core subjects
GuruPanda functions on a subscription basis, costing RM130 to RM220 annually, depending on the age and syllabus chosen for the child.
As previously mentioned, content is delivered via cartoon videos, which GuruPanda allows its subscribers to download, along with notes and quizzes.
“We provide a more holistic approach with 7 to 8 subjects including language courses and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and maths),” Kingsley told Vulcan Post. “[There’s also] arts and crafts, storytelling, and even songs with different themes like wizards, fairies, travelling around Malaysia, etc.”
Looking at the site, it can be said that GuruPanda is still pretty barebones for an edutech site when compared to others in the market. But this is taking into account that all videos and quizzes are animated and thus require a storyline too, which take time to imagine and execute.
Kingsley also believes that GuruPanda stands out as the team come from backgrounds involved in the frontlines of teaching, such as being in the preschool and tuition centre industries.
“Hence, we understand more on how to provide better content as frontliners. The content we make is more relatable to our current students,” he justified.
Gamified quizzes for effective learning
Now equipped with RM500,000 in funding, GuruPanda has plans to expand by building its own app. It will be launched with a new user interface and additional features to encourage more participation from its existing subscribers, while attracting a wider customer base.
One of its slated features will be to increase the gamification and animation elements of the programmes.
“Currently, students take tests and quizzes and play games in the learning process, collecting badges as rewards. The new interface will be more interactive and we plan for students to be able to exchange these badges for physical prizes such as laptops and mobile phones as well as in-programme avatars and cartoon characters,” Kingsley imagined.
This addition is intended to make education even more interactive and therefore engaging for the platform’s students.
The team also hopes to incorporate AI and Big Data onto the GuruPanda platform. The AI-learning algorithms it will utilise are meant to understand how users learn, uncover their strengths and weaknesses, and push suitable content and teaching styles to them.
“But this requires a bigger funding and team to make it work,” Kingsley added.
GuruPanda is only available in Malaysia at the moment, with a subscriber base of some 6,000 users. Once it’s launched its app, GuruPanda hopes to triple its subscribers, especially via tapping into the Malay market to widen students’ access to affordable and quality e-Learning options.
Before that, the company plans to break into the regional market with a Mandarin language programme, taught in Thai next year. Expansion plans into Indonesia and Vietnam are also in the pipeline.
“Our goal is to develop GuruPanda into a household name, both in Malaysia and SEA nations, that is synonymous with fun, accessible and effective learning,” Kingsley said.
To fulfil this, the company will then start a new round of investments in its next crowdfunding initiative, seeking partners and investors who share the same mindset of expanding e-learning facilities.
Featured Image Credit: Kingsley Ting, founder of GuruPanda