ACKTEC - Rayvan Ho speaks to VCBay

ACKTEC technologies deliver a personalised, adaptive learning experience with AI virtual assistance and 360 AI predictive analytics. ACKTEC Learn can interface with any Institutions’ and Corporations’ Learning Management System (LMS).

For the interview, we had Rayvan Ho, the founder and CEO of ACKTEC Technologies, an experienced Executive Director with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. He has a Bachelor’s degree focused in Mechanical Engineering from the National University of Singapore. He founded ACKTEC in 2015. He spoke with Komal Pattanayak of VCBay.

Komal: Please tell us something about yourself and your company ACKTEC Technologies

Rayvan: I’m the founder of ACKTEC technologies. ACKTEC stands for an acronym called ‘Automating content knowledge for training, education and commerce’, all the vision is to make learning a lot more different and innovative.

Our motto is reading and learning. So we use interactive content to make learning a lot more different. Apart from just the common current digitization way of doing things like video and text, we tend to use 360 VR, AR 3D immersive learning, to replace the way learning can be done.

Komal: How did this idea come to your mind? Why did you choose to get into the edtech sector?

Rayvan: It wasn’t new to me. I’ve been in the education industry for the past 16 years with my family. So we are into education for many years. We always believe that learning can be overcome with technology. And if technology can help make learning a lot more efficient and faster and innovative, it’s always something that we want to do. So, in the educational business that my family used to do, we always used tech, but it wasn’t really stable then. When the opportunity came, I pivoted and came off to do business in Edutech.

Komal: Can you explain in brief about all the products that you’re offering right now?

Rayvan: ACKTEC has three key programs. One is called ACKTEC Learn, which is a platform that allows the immersive content to assist through the mobile phone, without you having to buy a headset or a VR.

The other one is the ACKTEC class, where we allow people, individuals, schools, or even corporations to set up their own LMS (Learning Management System) on their own. The next one is called KQuest, which is our marketplace for content related to jobs. And all certifications will be placed there for people to kind of learn, to get a job or learn to upgrade and get a recognized certification from a recognized body or well-known institution in the region.

Komal: Currently you are focusing on just South Asia or are you planning to expand into other regions as well?

Rayvan: At the moment ACKTEC is focused on Australia and Asia. Whatever we do, we believe we want to make an impact in this region. We have partners in Africa and the US but our current focus is in Australasia.

Komal: It it is interesting that you’re not just catering to schools and universities, but also to other industries like corporate and finance. Was this from the beginning since you launched or gradually, you decided that you want to expand into these sectors as well?

Rayvan: We decided to go into the corporate and eventually we also realized our product can also be used in preschool. That’s where we also worked with the preschool sectors for the use of our products.

Komal: What is the competitive landscape of ACKTEC like? Are there any other players in this market?

Rayvan: There are direct competitors. If you speak about our LMS, which is our ACKTEC class, there are a lot of LMS in the market. We tend to differentiate ourselves by SaaS, easy to use with a content creator. There are indirect competitors, which I think I do not want to mention here. Many are developing tools to develop content for digitization.

Our difference is always in the immersive landscape. Through the mobile phone, we tend to allow the massive landscape to be displayed on the KQuest platform, which is the marketplace. Everybody loves to do marketplace because this is a trend going forward and we do agree.

What we really want to do is to make an impact in Australasia and therefore the key criteria are to make sure we bring onboard jobs or certification that is recognized in this region.

Komal: Now that we are in the midst of the pandemic, immersive learning has become all the more important. So did you experience a rise in the demand for your products and services during this period?

Rayvan: There are people looking at alternative ways of digitization, although the cheapest and easiest way is you get a mobile phone and record whatever you’re doing, over time, people realize this is not engaging at all. It lacks interaction and visualization. More and more people are looking at immersive ways to display learning content. And yes, people do look for us to convert their content into this manner.

Komal: Which sectors show more demand? Is it from the preschool or corporates?

Rayvan: We see an increase in corporate demand, particularly in the manufacturing or skilled sectors where people need to use immersive learning to increase the retention and understanding of the particular equipment or the understanding of the job for cross border training.

Komal: Why do you think that the schools are not demanding this more?

Rayvan: Schools tend to want to do it themselves. They have freemium software that they can leverage, and investment in them may not be necessary. If the pandemic continues to stay, the only way to learn is probably through online. At this juncture, schools are still very affected because of two reasons. Number one, most schools are not ready to transform. Second, they are now worried about survival, to make sure they can retain the student. But to me, investment in new technology in Edtech is more important, if you want to look into the future of retaining and bringing in more students to come in.

Komal: The edtech sector has been moving fast for the past few years, and especially during the pandemic. But it does have its own challenges. What are those pain points that you faced or you are facing and how do you overcome them?

Rayvan: Edtech is always not very sexy compared to the rest of the tech like FinTech and also Agtech businesses.

But if you look at their background, a lot of them actually existed a couple of years on their own. So they have worked very hard, bootstrapped to build a product then to reach exactly where they are now, raising tons of money.

The trending investment in edtech is harder as compared to other sectors like FinTech, foodtech, or even, now blockchain.  

Komal: ACKTEC has participated in many incubators and accelerators as well. Would you like to share those experiences?

Rayvan: Most of the accelerators are fantastic. They bring you either market understanding. The only downside currently is the inability to travel. So though it is online, many times, there are a lot of distractions. People get distracted when you are in the online medium. It’s not as useful as if you can have a face-to-face accelerator and visit the place, on the ground.

Komal: You guys also recently raised US$ 1 million this year in seed funding. What’s in the pipeline for ACKTEC technologies? And how are you planning to use those funds?

Rayvan: We are determined to be launching in Australasia. We have started offices in Malaysia, Thailand, and Australia. Apart from Singapore and China, we will be opening in Vietnam and Indonesia by the next half of the year.

Komal: Do you plan to raise more funding considering your expansion plans in the coming years?

Rayvan: We are raising our Series A and we hope that through this interview, maybe VCs, would like ACKTEC and like the edtech industry, happy to speak with us to invest in our Series A, to make an impact in Asia.

Komal: What was that moment or that incident where you felt that what you’re doing at ACKTEC is worth it or it’s making a difference?

Rayvan: Since the day we have incepted, every moment. We are always, always putting our partners first. We always are satisfied when our partners get an aha moment, either through a proof of concept or through the project that we implemented or the ideas that we brainstorm with them. So, at every moment, we are making an impact, not just on the general individual in this region, but also to our partners. And that is what keeps ACKTEC excited every single day.

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