TechTalks is an initiative that promotes local entrepreneurs who help strengthen our ecosystem. By inviting the founders to answer some questions, we want to shed light on the most inspiring stories and models of the ecosystem. We hope that by giving startup founders a space to share their knowledge and experience, we will all learn and grow together.
How has your career helped you with setting up your start-up?
During my first steps, I knew nothing about jobs, what the practices were and how to apply for a job. At UCL School of Management where I graduated, I had the good fortune to meet prominent professors who taught me how things worked in reality. I was able to recognize my need to improve in an increasingly competitive job market, act quickly, and become curious about many things. I learned about different technologies – AI, automatisation, software, cloud – and started researching business ideas in my sophomore year, as I knew entrepreneurship would be the right choice for me. Starting a business and understanding new innovations in the course I took from IBM helped me a lot to open my start-up. Someone at UCL also encouraged me to apply to Accenture, where I built strong skills that I still put into practice. In the last two years of school I learned about business, programming, finance, marketing, human psychology and even law from various modules. Even today in my business I refer to everything I learned.
What have been some of the biggest challenges for you?
Teachers’ trust was hard to come by. Akademi.al was created before the pandemic broke out and only a small number of teachers believed in my vision. Finding teachers to create courses became easier when we received support from the Ministry of Education and Sports. When the schools closed, we only had 900 instructional videos available previously recorded and yet, we had to offer more instructional videos in record time and related to the learning topics of the rest of that school year curriculum. Also, with the new school year coming very soon and the uncertainty of whether teaching would proceed again on the school premises, we had to create a new platform with more functionalities, which had to be completed before the official start date of the school year.
What have been some of the biggest wins of your engagement?
One of our biggest successes is that today we count over 450,000 users on the platform, ie almost all students of the pre-university system for the academic year 2020-2021 and teachers of the same year. We managed to successfully cope with the huge traffic of platform users, despite the difficulties encountered in our first steps. We managed to become the official platform used by the entire pre-university education system in Albania. We made available to all students, instructional videos in all subjects according to the school curriculum. We launched in record time the new platform with new functionalities to make online learning easier for teachers and students, offering the possibility of creating virtual classrooms and real-time communication directly from the platform. We can proudly state that although teaching process today takes place in schools, akademi.al is still being used by a considerable number of students and teachers.
What are some of the specific needs of akademi.al?
Platform development and maintenance, content development, server maintenance to meet our capacities, and teacher training have not only been a necessity but an ongoing necessity. However, we have had the support of mainly NGOs, including UNICEF, the UN, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the British Council, which facilitated these needs since the beginning of the pandemic.
Why did you choose Tirana to establish and grow your business?
Tirana is our capital and as such, it offers many opportunities. The Ministry of Education and Sports, as the main state institution for education, is based in Tirana. Direct contact has often been necessary to convince institutions of the benefits that akademi.al platform would bring to the education system. The fact that we were in Tirana saved us a lot of time. The partners that have supported us as UNICEF, UN, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the British Council are based in Tirana and contact with them has been continuous. Furthermore, some of the best schools and teachers are located in Tirana. Many of them were willing to create instructional videos for akademi.al. One of the gymnasiums of Tirana has offered us its facilities for recording instructional videos. The teachers we chose to record the videos saved a lot of time due to the fact that the recording facilities were in Tirana. Last, but not least is the fact that Tirana is the city of young people and akademi.al is built from a staff of young people who want to contribute to the field of education through technology.
If you want to share your history with our local ecosystem, you can contact us by email: email@example.com