Founder Spotlight: Vincent Frederick Dancel of JoomaJam
When Passion Meets Enterprise
Entrepreneurs inspired by their advocacy become tireless workers to witness the completion and success of their startups, whether it is in the social or commercial field. The startups that flourish in the business field are the ones built when passion and ideas are combined. An example of it happened in 2008 when JoomaJam was first introduced in the Philippines by Vin Dancel.
The Kickstart to Success
JoomaJam started as an idea of co-founder Carisse Escueta to make learning for children engaging. The main goal of JoomaJam is to foster interactive-based learning to make learning more fun and engaging for children. They are able to play and interact with the app, which has certain responsive features. JoomaJam is also committed to creating a social impact in the education system of public schools.
With a shared passion, the founders worked with several people in the music industry to work on new and original content for the app. This was made to address the country’s problem on lack of accessible education. The idea, which stemmed from a simple conversation, later evolved into something more instrumental for their mission. It was Dancel who put the gears into motion to create the enterprise that would make engaging and technology-driven learning available to public schools and marginalized communities – an idea that would win over his first investors in Kickstart.
Dancel’s passion for social entrepreneurship stemmed during his work at Saligan, a nongovernmental organization where people from marginalized communities are trained to be paralegals on the condition that they know how to read and write. In his years of working there, he learned teaching is effective when you make it fun and engaging. This is the reasoned why JoomaJam was engineered to work under the same principle. It is created to provide a fun learning for kids ages three to ten years old –– a period, Dancel notes, that is a crucial learning stage for kids and a period where parents have the widest funnel for spending on their children. While JoomaJam started as a non-profit organization in 2008, its founders first created Ritmo Learning Lab, a for-profit organization committed to developing kid-friendly learning tools that are music driven featuring bilingual and educator-approved content.
Furthermore, JoomaJam has launched several products as well, such as the JoomaJam Sing-Along app. It was the first product to be launched by the company in partnership with Pyrolitics, which garnered over 20,000 users in just three months. On the other hand, it is currently in the process of developing the Startime App, an app that sparks creativity and learning through its build-your-story mechanism. With its local success, JoomaJam plans to go global with the help of Pyrolitics, who is working to market their products overseas.
The JoomaJam Journey
Every startup faces challenges, and for JoomaJam, it was the product market. Business-to-consumer (B2C) models such as JoomaJam, Dancel reasoned, are not marketable in the Philippines since they are “tough propositions”. The Philippines is not a buying economy. Filipinos would always opt for economical or split purchases instead of paying for products that they think are unnecessary. For example, if they download an app, they would make do with the free content instead of purchasing the whole content. In-app purchases were tough to harvest. It was a challenge for the app to motivate its users to buy its products. As a result, JoomaJam shifted to a business-to-business (B2B) model instead, which allowed sponsored and premium contents in the app.
“Time, more than money, is the biggest challenge for every startup,” Dancel mentioned. Time is our most valuable commodity. Entrepreneurs are tasked in devising alternative ways or methodologies to cut corners to make efficient use of time. He believes entrepreneurs must have resilience and determination to overcome hurdles. “You need to have the internal fortitude to keep moving forward despite the failures,” he says. Every entrepreneur must learn to admit, acknowledge, and learn from their failures or else they are bound to repeat it. To be both calculating and wise in making decisions is a tough job. Dancel has realized you need to have a clear vision and the passion for creating social enterprises. From there, it’s all figuring out and learning from it.
He admits to not having any background on social entrepreneurship and education technology prior to his fated cocktail pitch. However, he is now enjoying his work amidst the challenges and setbacks he faced. JoomaJam embodies his passion for developmental work, music, and technology. He could not imagine himself doing anything else. The app’s success is a result of genuine passion, which has allowed to make a change and touch people’s lives.
If you are interested in JoomaJam, you can see their website HERE.