Can you give us a brief description of your business and when it started?
Too Cool For School – I bought the t-shirt, then started the business! Well sort of …
Imagine a world where every child found Maths easy. At 2cool4school Maths Home Tuition Center I make this a reality. I believe in empowering each child by teaching with EASE (Ensuring All Steps are Easy), therefore eliminating the all too common fear of Maths and replacing it with a love of numbers. Through my unique approach every child quickly becomes numerate and develops mathematical skills that will last them a lifetime.
My business started up last September. Before that, I was a primary school teacher at Garden International School in Mont Kiara.
In addition to my sensible step by step approach, an integral part of my business is running educational workshops. One hugely popular one is the ‘Get Numerate Workshop’ in which parents are invited to come along with their children and I coach them on how to make maths easy and enjoyable for both themselves and their kids. I’m hugely excited about another workshop that I plan to roll out in the near future called ‘Projects!’ – ideal for the homeschooling community. Over the years I have built up a library of quality projects that I am keen to share. These projects are cross-curricular, stimulating and engaging and have proved extremely popular with my students.
… Oh, and the t-shirt is where I got the name from – 9 ringgits very well spent at the Factory Outlet Shop in MK1.
What made you decide to turn your interest into a business?
I truly believe that for primary school kids, maths should be the easiest subject in the world. Unfortunately however, this is not often the case and many children suffer from low confidence in maths. A lot of this is down to the fact that children are often asked to solve problems before they possess the basic ‘core’ skills that are required. Having taught in international schools for many years, I have had the benefit of seeing first hand what worked and what didn’t when it came to learning maths.
Through neighbours and friends, I learned that Malaysia has both a vibrant homeschooling community as well as a number of students attending school on a morning or afternoon only schedule. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to take the best practices I had acquired from around the world and merge them with my own creative, high energy, fun approach and set out on my own. That’s when Too Cool For School was born!
What challenges did you face getting your business started/going?
One of the reasons that I started my own business was to spend more quality time with my wife and two young children. So, in the beginning the big challenge for me was to shift my working hours away from tutoring after school and weekends to during the day when my family are at school (my wife is also a teacher). To do this I needed to target the students that could come to me during normal school hours, like the kids that are homeschooled, as well as children attending the afternoon slot at Malaysian schools. I invited some homeschooling parents and their children to come along to one of my ‘Get Numerate’ Workshops. It was a huge success and I had signed up my first group of homeschoolers the next day. These parents now benefit from the advice and resources that I provide them with, as well as regular workshops, so that they are able to seamlessly continue their children’s education within their own homeschool set up.
Another big challenge for me was deciding who would be the face of my advertising campaign. This one was quite easily solved with two ice-creams – the payment required to get my two lovely children on board!
How do you balance your time between the other aspects of your life (e.g. being a dad) and being an entrepreneur?
When I was teaching in a ‘normal’ school I would regularly work 60-70 hours a week. Apart from delivering a quality maths program to children and supporting their parents, one of the reasons I started my own business was to be there for my family – I’ve got a little boy who is four and a seven-year old girl. My new reduced working hours allow me to be there in the mornings for both my kids as well as meet my youngest when he gets off the bus after school. The smile on his face when he runs to hug me is one of the highlights of my new working life. To unwind and keep fit I box at the superb Monarchy Gym in Bangsar and some weeks I even have the time to play a round of golf.
What tips do you have for other hobbyists or creatives who are thinking about setting up their own business?
Go for it! Take a chance. If you are passionate about what you do and believe in your product the rewards will be far greater than the risks.