SINGAPORE (May 3): Cialfo’s software as a service (SaaS) platform currently covers 3,000 global tertiary education institutions through 18 countries across the globe including Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and Germany.
Following its Pre-Series A funding in 3Q16, Singapore-based education technology (edtech) startup is aiming to expand its reach in the region by working with partners across Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
Cialfo was initially founded in 2012 by Stanley Chia and Rohan Pasari as a college application management consultancy. Its proprietary software platform was eventually conceptualised in early 2015 to handle an increase in customer influx.
Today, the automation platform is available for both students and mentors on desktop as well as mobile devices, with Cialfo’s school and consultancy partners receiving white-labelled access to the platform for their own students and counsellors.
The software is free for students to download and manage their university applications with features such as interactive college shortlisting and task list management. Counsellors can also gain paid access to the platform to collaborate with students as well.
In an exclusive e-mail interview with The Edge Markets, Cialfo’s co-founder and CEO, Rohan Pasari, explains how he believes the cloud-based software platform is poised to enable education institutions and consultancies to develop the best business practices, see better conversions, and gradually attain faster, sustainable growth.
Tell us more about Cialfo and how it was founded.
I met Stanley, Cialfo’s Co-Founder while we were studying at the Nanyang Technological University. We spent the most of our final year conceptualising an idea for an education sector startup and to make this idea into a real business proposition. Within two years, we established ourselves as Singapore’s leading tertiary education consultancy with record admission rates in the top US and UK universities.
In 2016, we decided to do business a bit differently. We figured the only way to achieve our vision of helping a million students find their dream college by 2020 was to work with other education institutions and consultancies. And through them, offer our technology to students and parents, enabling them to collaborate with each other to manage students’ university applications.
Has the platform evolved much ever since it was launched?
By early 2016, we had a solid minimum viable product (MVP) and launched a soft beta. Feedback after that was encouraging and we moved on to adding more powerful functionalities and developing cutting edge UI/UX, which is unheard of in this area of the education industry.
The product has evolved massively since we began. What initially was a means of message exchange between a mentor and a student, is now a one-stop-shop for application management – we now have sought-after features like instant messenger, broadcasting ability, guardian updates, automated deadline reminders, meeting scheduler, task list management, interactive college shortlisting, native-mobile app, a status tracker, support for boarding school, undergraduate and postgraduate applications, etc.
How do students “achieve their dream university” through Cialfo, from sign-up to acceptance?
Our innovative SaaS platform for independent college counsellors, private organisations and high schools helps to streamline their student management process while increasing efficiency and reducing admin time by 60%.
Cialfo’s platform can plug in the gaps to help with automation of tasks and utilising Artificial Intelligence to provide greater insights that help students with their college applications. The reduction of time spent on administrative tasks offers counsellors and students more one-on-one time to strategise and find the right college fit.
What would you say are some of the smartest functions of Cialfo to date?
A good application isn’t about how many A’s you have, it’s a lot more comprehensive and really scrutinises students based on a wide number of components.
Cialfo’s smart college shortlisting tool (which is endorsed by former Harvard and Wharton Admissions officers) ensures better admissions success. It also takes into account extra-curricular activities, the ability to broadcast messages via text messages, email or chat to a laser target audience, and maintain notes for each student for admin usage.
What aspects do you hope to further improve? Are there any intentions of launching related products?
We are extremely excited about the recently launched status tracker, which allows mentors to get a quick snapshot of the progress of all their students, and helps in prioritising students better. All our energy is currently focused on the application management platform, and we don’t have any intentions of launching other related products anytime soon.