This startup aims to help parents search, filter and compare education providers and children services in Hong Kong
It has created more than 6,000 listings, and they aim to launch a series A round of funding next year.
When it comes to educational activities, Hong Kong parents take them very seriously, desiring every edge for their child’s development, whether it be in academics, sports, arts or even recreation. But the search for the right educational provider can be frustrating due to the breadth of options and lack of unbiased evaluations, which led Jennifer Chin to launch the Hong Kong education review start-up Whizpa.com last month.
“For busy parents living in Hong Kong, not to mention those with more than one child, it is never easy finding the right learning centers, classes or activities,” says Chin, a mother of three with investment banking and education industry experience, on what inspired her to build Whizpa.com fresh from having her third child.
“It’s not that we don’t have information around us. In fact, we have almost an overload of information – so much so that it has become difficult to sift through everything and find out what works and what doesn’t.”
She explains that many Hong Kong parents have been taking to Facebook, Wechat and social media blogs and group discussions to try and ask friends, families and even random online strangers for suggestions. In fact, she cites a recent survey that revealed close to 90% of parents in Hong Kong rely on word of mouth and recommendations from other parents when looking for kids’ activities and education providers for their children. Blogs and group discussions are a great source of recommendations, but the problem is that questions can easily get lost or moved down.
“I thought it would be great to have a platform where information is neatly categorised and easily searchable to make our lives easier when it comes to kids’ education,” says Chin.
The start-up founder set up Whizpa, a name that came from the concept of “word of mouth” to “whisper amongst parents.” She also used TripAdvisor as inspiration when developing the education review site’s platform. The current core features include a comprehensive database to search, compare and choose educational activities and providers, as well as rating and review functions for parent users.
Series A funding
Chin says Whizpa, which is currently bootstrapped and has created more than 6,000 listings, aims to launch a series A round of funding next year to add new features, including e-commerce capabilities. The start-up will also use the additional investment to hire sales and in-house IT staff in preparation for a possible expansion to other Asian cities where parents also put priority in educational activities.
“We plan to grow Whizpa.com to a platform where users and providers can book, transact and pay for classes for their children online through our platform. Currently, most kids’ classes and activities in HK are cash and cheque based. Providers don’t offer online payment systems and at best, they have a bank account for parents to transfer fees without going to the center to pay in person,” says Chin.
“If Whizpa.com becomes a huge success in Hong Kong, I believe that it can be replicated in many cities in the world like Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Jakarta etc. where children’s education is a focus and a big Industry. The education industry is huge with lots of potential to revolutionise how parents search, compare and transact on kids’ activities and classes.”
On the other end of the education spectrum, schools also want to reach out to parents outside of the usual networking and referral methods. This is where Whizpa has been keen to make a difference, allowing providers with smaller marketing budgets to get the word out.
Chin shares how Whizpa worked with ESF Sports and ESF Language & Learning, which runs the after school activities at ESF Schools in over 30 locations around Hong Kong. The number of activities at each location can vary, which can be a headache to handle in other review platforms, but Whizpa found a way to put up multiple accurate listings, which she says ultimately helps parents searching for the best location.
“We created separate listing pages for each location where parents can review and rate their services at the different locations Each location has a different group of parents with kids enrolled and hence having the separate listing pages will be good for ESF to get feedback for each location from their parents. Secondly, the class information for each school and location are different also,” says Chin.
“Many smaller providers do not have a big marketing budget let alone hire a marketing manager to manage marketing needs for their businesses. With Whizpa.com, we help
providers promote their businesses simply by bringing all their customers’ testimonials, comments and feedback out onto our platform in the form of reviews and ratings.”
“Best of all, these testimonials are free and coming from customers who have used their services or products and sharing the inside scoop and experiences with other parents.”