As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the United States, the education system has been thrown into a logistical crisis. Navigating social distancing advisories, schools, teachers and parents have had to get creative in continuing education at home. Experts forecast the situation will persist well into the fall, making productive digital educational platforms more essential than ever. Changing how we educate online has been the driving force for Kevin Celisca, the Haitian-American co-founder behind education tech platform Integrate Tech. Officially launching their products this month, the company helps schools “consolidates management tools for k-12 schools, combining the most needed components into one easy-to-use platform,” explains Celisca.
In the wake of COVID-19, their mission to provide affordable and streamlined online education systems has only sharpened. “We want to empower the youth through the help of technology,” says the young entrepreneur, who worked as an accountant for the prestigious firm, Ernst & Young, before striking out on his own. “Seeing how you can positively affect society with your work is something that brings me incredible joy.” We spoke more with Celisca about education’s changing landscape and technology’s role in it, and what it’s like to launch your own tech venture as a POC founder.
What makes Integrate Tech unique on the market?
What makes Integrate unique in the market is our ability to run all of your school activities seamlessly online. Teachers can run video conferences, create homework assignments, and keep students engaged like never before. Admins have the ability to see how students are doing in real-time with easy to use data dashboards so they can make informed decisions on the student progress, all while working from home.
How has the educational technology landscape changed post-COVID-19?
The educational landscape has changed rapidly. Schools that were once resistant to using technology are now scrambling for tech solutions to allow for remote schooling. Schools are now purchasing more Chromebooks, and are looking for sophisticated software solutions to ease the learning process for both teachers and students. For Integrate, this unfortunate situation has provided us with an opportunity to support schools all over the world to continue to run efficiently during this crisis.
Why is developing more educational tech tools so important for the future?
It’s not that we need more educational tools (because there are thousands out there). We need better and more consolidated educational solutions. Education is infamous for being bureaucratic and slow-moving, which leads to a lack of innovation. We need a system that attempts to consolidate and innovate while helping admins, teachers, and students become the best versions of themselves through the help of data and cutting edge A.I.
What was your greatest challenge in developing the business?
The greatest challenge of developing my business was getting the right software engineers to create the software. Without the right tech team, your idea will never come into fruition. There are various tech practices one must do before actually creating their software solution, including making wireframes, prototypes, getting feedback on the prototype, designing the requirements for the tech, understanding the limitations of the tech, and finally creating the software.
Proudest moment so far?
The proudest moment thus far in my career was having the ability to raise over $300K. This was a monumental feat because most founders of colour in this technology space are lucky to even raise $100K. I am fully aware of my blessings.
Do you have any interesting updates or upcoming projects in the works?
Yes, we are in the process of collaborating with schools to run their summer classes on our platform. We are transforming the way teachers engage remotely with students. We are really looking forward to that!
What advice would you give others interested in starting their own tech venture?
I would say do your research. Creating a tech company is emotionally draining, though, and will be one of the hardest things you ever did in your life. The first step is to pick an industry you want to solve a problem in. Know what kind of market you would want to dedicate your life to. Validate that there is an actual problem by surveying at least 100 of your intended customers.
Next, it’s time to find a co-founder, someone with complementary skills that don’t overlap too much. Create a pitch deck. This will be the roadmap of your business, and will constantly need to be updated. Build a founding team. This is easier said than done, and the hardest part will be finding a good Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Build wireframes to create a feedback loop from your customers. Create the solution only when you know people want to pay for it. Lastly, talk with Investors. It’s never too early for this as their feedback will quickly help you realize your weaknesses and allow you the opportunity to grow.