Sharing knowledge that empowers people – this is what Smart Academy is all about. Founded by two female Hong Kong entrepreneurs, the innovative educational platform hosts teaching events designed to positively transform people’s lives across different areas. The newsDesk met with Leighton Centre members and co-founders Cecilia Law and Suzanne Chan to find out about their mission to create an all-inclusive knowledge and wisdom sharing platform.
With the shared mission of bringing together a diverse talent pool of people in mind, Smart Academy moved into theDesk Leighton Centre in the early half of 2018 to provide the necessary teaching and networking space for its members.
Organising quality activities and workshops, Smart Academy connects tutors and participants, while continuously expanding its network to include more professionals who can join the platform, share their knowledge, and potentially collaborate.
Bringing experts and sharing successes together
The fateful meeting between Cecilia and Suzanne follows the same story of idea exchange and community building that characterizes Smart Academy.
It was not long after Cecilia left her nine-year stint in a law firm to start her own beauty school, that she met nutrition expert Suzanne. Discovering their shared passion for teaching, they soon took interest in each other’s area of expertise and learned about what the other knew, bringing their respective students along. It was this powerful idea of building knowledge through cultivating a network of educators and students that formed Smart Academy.
“We hope to bring together professionals from all walks of life onto this educational platform where everyone can help one another develop their strengths. We are aiming to foster productive connections and introduce the rich network of Hong Kong SME tutors to a wider audience,” said Cecilia.
Establishing trust through face-to-face interactions
Since last year, Cecilia and Suzanne have been gearing up for the launch of Smart Academy this year with a comprehensive business development plan. They wish to build a strong foundation for the platform before bringing it to the market, believing that it hinges on their ability to establish the mutual trust necessary to connect people from various industries.
Mutual trust entails personal interaction, which the founders say cannot be replaced by technology. While the high cost of rental venues has driven many startups to operate online, Cecilia and Suzanne have insisted on conducting classroom training to sustain real relationships.
“We want to enable real communication and relationships among people. That’s why we built a platform where tutors and students can meet face-to-face and establish the kind of trust that can only come from physical interaction. Trust is our core value! ” remarked Suzanne.
Providing cost-friendly teaching spaces
After officially launching Smart Academy this year, Cecilia and Suzanne came face to face with a major challenge: expensive rent.
“Convenient and comfortable venues cost a lot, but we don’t want to pass the cost onto our participants,” shared Cecilia.
This is how theDesk fits with their business model.
theDesk’s cost-efficient and flexible classroom solutions let entrepreneurs like Cecilia and Suzanne run their business with greater confidence. For one, they no longer have to worry about risking disengaging their target participants with high costs.
“We were so fortunate to meet theDesk and discover this new and flexible venue rental model. theDesk is well-equipped, reasonably priced, and flexible in terms of rental time, and it provides a comfortable platform where our tutors can hold more courses, seminars and activities,” shared Suzanne.
Breaking tradition and inspiring cooperation
While sharing a physical space is core to the Smart Academy vision, Cecilia and Suzanne understand that some tutors are used to operating independently.
“To attract as many tutors as possible, we organize extracurricular activities as well as promotion and marketing for them based on their needs. We hope these value-added services will increase the exposure of Smart Academy among tutors, while bringing them on to their desired stage as well,” shared Cecilia.
Ultimately, Smart Academy aims to be a professional alliance in which the unique contribution of each member to the community is highly visible.
“Every tutor in Smart Academy has something different to offer, in terms of industry experience, professional knowledge, and other aspects. Bringing them together is not expected to result in unwanted competition. On the contrary, the diversity of our members is key to achieving an effective, collaborative society – our members are able to form wider, more dynamic professional perspectives which can help them tackle more complex problems,” said Suzanne.
Supporting worthwhile connections and experiences
In the same way that Cecilia and Suzanne embed personal interactions in their business model, they look forward to using these interactions to bring Smart Academy to more communities. This seems to make sense, seeing how word-of-mouth recommendations from their original members have led to a significant increase in new sign-ups.
“The events and workshops we organize are suitable for busy urbanites who want to quickly learn new information and apply it in their lives. We are confident that such a convenient and refreshing learning model, not to mention theDesk’s comfortable and well-equipped venue, will encourage more participants to share their experience with friends and colleagues,” shared Cecilia.
“theDesk has been very helpful in the development of Smart Academy. Aside from reducing our concern over venue costs and scheduling limitations, it has also provided a conducive space where people can connect to supportive peers and communities they otherwise may not meet, maximising the potential of everyone’s ambitions,” said Suzanne.
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