Will has a passion for online education and sees a huge market potential. He hopes to bring the best learning experience to students around the globe.
What’s your story?
I joined VivaLing in April 2018, bringing over my 20 years of leadership and investment experience in big data and online education sectors. I had previously been the chief consultant for VivaLing by providing various resources to the company and introducing its business to the China market.
I have always been passionate about education. I can still recall the moment when I first stood in front of my students at Luoyang University in China, where I served as a lecturer. The proudness of delivering the best of my knowledge to young people is still vivid in my mind. Since then, I have dedicated my career to public relations and communications while keeping eyes on trends in edutech fields.
Now I am proud to head VivaLing and I am ambitious to make it the world’s leading online education service provider. With all these efforts, the ultimate goal is to bring the best learning experience to students around the globe.
What excites you most about your industry?
I am excited about online education industry as there’s a huge market potential and lots of possibilities, especially with the advancement of machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data technologies. For example, today AI can be used to make a perfect match between language teachers and students based on each student’s unique interest, personality, language level and preferred timetable. AI can also be used to have smart learning progression analysis, and therefore improve dramatically both teaching methods and effectiveness.
I believe that the future of education lies in the confluence of data and computing power to improve product design and creativity, social perceptiveness and teaching efficiency.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I graduated from Nanyang Business School Singapore with an Executive Master of Business Administration degree in 2006. Prior to joining VivaLing, I was the Vice President in Weber Shandwick, one of the Top 10 marketing companies globally. I have also established Broadcom Marketing Communication Co., a toplist Marketing company in China.
Meanwhile, I have been mentoring and conducting extensive training to practitioners in marketing and communication areas in Asia. In 2016, I chaired in “We are the Hero”, one of China’s most popular entrepreneurial TV shows, as an investor judge.
Now I am working as the CEO of VivaLing Online Education Group. We are an edutech startup located at Blk 73 JTC Launchpad, One North. I am very excited about the new adventure, and can see a promising future full of potential opportunities.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is a well-known high-tier education hub with world top academic excellence. There’s a huge potential for growing an edutech company here. Not only because of its location advantage, but also the inherited multicultural environment. In the future, I am looking forward to developing VivaLing beyond an online language service provider to become an international education and culture group. Stationed at the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore, VivaLing is able to bridge between the Asian and the Western culture with advanced educational resources, technology, and talents. Together we can drive the success of education and bring a brighter future to global students.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Focus. The best piece of advice from Jack Ma when we met in China. Jack knows that I have worked in training and marketing communications for many years, and he strongly advises me to put all my experience and knowledge together as a full asset to dedicate to one focused area. That is why I choose to incubate VivaLing and dedicate all my energy to accelerate its success.
Who inspires you?
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Blockchain. According to traditional business concept, one will be separated from his/her contribution after leaving a company. With the new mindset of blockchain, this person will be able to carry his history and achievement whenever and wherever. We have a vivid referrer program in VivaLing where we encourage our teachers to refer new teachers, and families to refer new families. All these activities are recorded in our smart system and made into good use by both the company and the person’s growth.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would stay focus on one area and go deeper into it.
How do you unwind?
Jogging, Karaoke, casual chat with friends.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. Good food, happy culture, and relaxing atmosphere.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The “Lean Startup” by Eric Ries.
Shameless plug for your business:
Make VivaLing a listed company in 5 years.
How can people connect with you?
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.