Generating the whole education picture
Generating the whole education picture
Chris Hoang | Monash Life | Thriving communities | 5 minute read
Through never being afraid to ask questions, entrepreneur Chris Hoang created Edapt Education – a data solution that could transform the cultural fabric of our education system.
Chris Hoang’s journey towards founding his own business started – ironically – at a standstill. Graduating from Monash University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Information Technology, he had cultivated a successful career as a management consultant for digital product teams.
However, Hoang found himself growing increasingly consumed by the idea of creating a product of his own. One morning in 2018, he got off the train, stood in front of his employer’s building, and was unable to make himself walk through the doors.
“It was a moment of complete disconnect,” Hoang says. “But that disconnect opened up a pathway to discover my real focus.”
Luckily, his new direction was only one fateful meal away. A fortuitous dinner party introduced him to Katherine Roan, then a teacher at Roxburgh College in Melbourne. Recognising each other as kindred spirits, they began discussing how business management principles could be applied to teaching practice to improve students’ lives and futures.
Long before dessert, the seeds of Edapt Education had been planted.
Streamlining student data
Hoang began volunteering two days a week at Roxburgh College, with the aim of troubleshooting the institution’s administrative burden. “I was sitting in classrooms, executive planning meetings, faculty meetings – you name it, I was in it,” Hoang laughs. “I asked every teacher I met to introduce me to another teacher. Soon I had 50 teachers from around the state giving me insights into issues they faced with data.”
Through his connections, Hoang realised that schools were using multiple tools to gather student data. While individually useful, these tools were incapable of talking to each other. This left teachers unable to holistically capture each student’s learning journey and profile, and schools with a fragmented view of their students’ experience.
When data is trapped in different places, it’s hard to get a full picture of the person who’s sitting across from the table from you,” explains Hoang.
“You can’t understand what separates them from the kid sitting next to them in class or figure out the support they need."
Equipped with a problem to solve, Hoang and Roan started working on a platform that would help schools bring together all their academic, engagement, wellbeing and student voice data.
Success for every student
By mid-2019, they had secured two clients for their fledgling product. One year later, with five schools on the books, they took the next step and entered The Generator Startup Sprint, a Monash intensive online program for early stage entrepreneurs looking to supercharge and scale their venture.
“As founders, you have to have thick skin and walk into situations with confidence,” says Hoang. “The Generator helped us find our voice, taught us not to be afraid to ask questions, and showed us how important it is to give people a clear and compelling reason to want to help.”
Most importantly, it pushed them to think bigger. "From figuring out how to shape a data platform for education analytics, we started thinking about our vision for how education should look in five to 10 years time," Hoang says.
We realised our mission was to make sure that every student can find success in learning, life and work."
To this end, Edapt Education encourages students to view themselves as more than their test scores. They are able engage with their learning data and build portfolios of work that speak to their success and identity.
Through using the platform, students can take control of their narrative by capturing their unique experiences, achievements, characteristics and strengths. As a result, academic transcripts become just one layer of a 13-year educational journey.
“As much as Edapt Education is about providing a practical service, we’re also looking at a cultural shift,” says Hoang. “With so many educators frustrated with the focus on test scores, the fabric of education is starting to change. We’re lucky enough to be at the forefront.”
Maintaining student-teacher connections during COVID-19
The platform has proven essential for teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hoang says.
"Our technology solution has empowered teachers to see and meet the needs of students when connecting in-person is impossible."
Creating a national footprint
After graduating from The Generator, Hoang and Roan moved into the Skalata Ventures accelerator program, which counts Monash among its first partners. The pairing proved an ideal match; Skalata is recognised as the first fully integrated seed investment program designed to help early stage companies prepare to scale into significant, transformative businesses.
The Generator taught us how to swing and swing hard,” reflects Hoang. “Skalata recognised us as a business with a strong foundation, and then prepared us for the big leagues."
“We entered Skalata with five schools. We left the program in early 2021 with close to 30 schools, and we’re now sitting at 60 schools. The Generator and Skalata set us up to make a nationwide footprint.”
For Hoang, Edapt Education’s rapid growth represents more than professional success. It is also a deeply personal testament to the value of recognising human potential over grades.
“I wasn’t really academic as a student,” he says. “If I could find my way and create something meaningful, then anybody can.
“If you want to do something, go and volunteer, go and spend time in the community, go and stand where it’s uncomfortable. You’d be amazed how many people want to open doors for you if you give them the opportunity.”