Founder Spotlight: Neil Dagondon of Edusuite
Optimizing School Enrollment Systems in the Philippines
By Michaela Villaroman
When I sat down to chat with Edusuite President and Co-Founder Niel Dagondon, I couldn’t help but look back on my college days. Back then, the two things I remember always dreading were our math exams and our enrollment. While my fear of college algebra wasn’t shared by everyone, I could say that our enrollment process was disliked by the entire student body.
From scrambling to get a limited slot for subjects, to waiting in long lines to pay for tuition, the enrollment horror stories are sadly experienced by students and parents from schools across the country.
Considering that technology has helped optimize nearly every aspect of our lives, it really begs the question as to why school enrollment systems remain so archaic. It’s high time our outdated systems get a reboot, and Edusuite’s Niel Dagondon steps in to make it happen.
Edusuite is a school management system that utilizes AI to maximize school efficiency and the enrollment process. Niel sat down with TechShake to share his story and talk about how Edusuite intends to make an impact on our schools.
Pioneering the game development industry
Even prior to Edusuite, Niel has already been an innovator. Back in 2001 when the local game development industry was practically non-existent, he came along and started Anino Games. The company was indeed a game-changer and they were heralded as the first game development studio in the Philippines. Twelve years and countless games and projects later, they were successfully acquired by PlayLab.
As a gamer himself, Niel wanted to use both his passion for gaming and his skills in software development to start a company he believed in. He shares, “When I set up Anino Games, I also wanted to pioneer the game development industry. At that time, people who had the talent and passion for the field weren’t given opportunities to get into it. I knew I didn’t when I graduated. I wanted to change that.”
Getting involved with education
While Niel was working in Anino Games, he also decided to co-found CIIT, a digital arts and technology college in Quezon City. His current role as Chairman of CIIT’s Board of Directors enables him to provide students with more opportunities in the tech and digital industry.
“The school serves as a haven for the creatives and the geeks out there. We wanted to create a place where these individuals get a chance to meet and work with likeminded people,” Niel shares.
He joked that while he was technically retired after the acquisition of Anino Games in 2014, he couldn’t help but cut his vacation short. With a mind built to keep building, he decided to take on a new project, doubling down on his involvement with the education industry.
As CIIT grew and expanded, Niel recognized another problem they may have on their hands. With his expertise in tech development and his schools’ need for better management, he was eager to come up with a solution that would improve their school’s enrollment and information systems.
By chance, Orange & Bronze CEO Calen Legaspi was also looking to develop a product focused on improving school systems. Niel recalls, “I got in touch with him and said, ‘Let’s solve this together.’ And just like that, we started our partnership. In 2017, we officially started development.”
Together, they came up with Edusuite, which stands for Educational Software Suite. “It’s not just a school management system, it’s a complete suite of software,” Niel adds. “A lot of schools don't have the expertise to actually transform themselves, so we created Edusuite to help them out.”
Edusuite is the only software that uses AI to help with the planning of school operations. Its automated class scheduling cuts down the process of planning schedules of faculty and optimizing classroom use. Petitioning of classes and dissolving of classes are minimized as Edusuite is able to analyze student data, predicting which classes are in high demand.
Niel explains further, “Planning takes a lot of time. What Edusuite does differently is that the AI does the work for you. All you need to do is feed it the needed information, and Edusuite advises you what you can do.” This makes the whole process of school management simpler and more efficient. To top it all off, Edusuite also makes the process of enlistment, enrollment, and payment hassle-free as all these can now be done online through their platform.
Edusuite conducted their first pilot run with CIIT. Because of the software’s ability to map out how the school could efficiently maximize their resources, CIIT managed to raise their revenue by 24% as more students were able to enroll more classes and minimize schedule conflicts.
Since their official launch, Edusuite has provided over thousands of students with an optimized system for their enrollment, and brought significant revenue increases to their respective schools.
Improving the education system
While the education system in the Philippines still has a long way to go, it’s always helpful to have people like Niel to push progress along. He says, “When it comes to technology, there’s always the need to adapt. Even in games, there’s a need to keep things fresh otherwise no one would want them. Unfortunately, when it comes to the education industry, things move very slowly and everything takes a long time to implement. There is no urgency to adapt.”
It is much easier for schools to maintain status quo because innovation is not seen as a necessity. They fail to grasp how outdated systems actually hold them back.
Despite how challenging it would be to push for innovation, Niel is willing to try. “Each school has a unique culture with different ways of doing things. Trying to work with them to create solutions is challenging and takes time, but we’ll do what we can to help modernize education in the country. It might not happen right away, but we want to be part of the revolution” he says optimistically.
Making a positive impact through entrepreneurship
“I see entrepreneurship as an obligation,” Niel adds. “If you were given the resources and the skills to become an entrepreneur, you should use it to help the nation. When I put up the school, I wanted to improve education in the Philippines. When I created Edusuite, I wanted to help other schools modernize their operations to help education in the Philippines.”
Niel’s advice to fellow entrepreneurs: “This is probably cliche but if there’s one thing I learned, it’s hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Entrepreneurship requires a lot of perseverance, and you must always know your priorities. For entrepreneurs, their most important commodity is their time, so you always have to learn to think with the end in mind.”
For more information on Edusuite, visit their website here.
You can also check out the details and course offerings of CIIT Philippines here.