Wela: The Future Your School Needs
John Vincent Fiel
There are more than 50,000 schools in the Philippines alone, and not all of them are equipped with an efficient and swift automated system in providing their stakeholders with the necessary information and documents that they need. With the rapid developments in society and technology, a system like this is proving to be a necessity. This is where Wela School Systems steps in.
Wela is an EduTech startup with an end-to-end school system where students and parents can see their assignments, grades, statements, and bills all in one application. Its ultimate objective is to advance the educational sector through technological innovation. Wela is trusted by more than 200+ educational institutions nationwide and internationally and has been awarded by the TOP 10 Start-up Companies: People's Choice Awards, Smart Innovation Challenge Finalists, and Best Business Pitch Award in 2021 by various well recognized associations. With this, why don’t you join me in learning more about Wela with its Co-Founder and CEO, John Fiel.
We have seen that you have had extensive experience in the field of Computer Science. With this, what motivated you to dive into the startup ecosystem?
When I was still in high school and college, we already had a family business. My father used to guide and teach me when it came to business. He thought that it was important to learn these things at an early age. Additionally, my brother — who is my Co-Founder — was also into business during those times. Both my father and brother are the people I look up to. I think it runs in our blood when it comes to businesses.
Talking about tech, in college, I didn’t expect myself to end up in a Computer Science course. Although I did have a hint about going into this field because of my interest in technologies, I wanted to take up architecture. My brother encouraged me to take up Computer Science since he knew I would like it as well. As a result, I took Computer Science instead of Architecture. As the years went by, startups started to emerge, although they weren’t as popular and numerous like today. My brother started to develop an interest in these startups. I got curious about what he did and realized that business and technology could be put together — two things I both love. Startups are one out of the many things one can do to create change and impact. Through these startups, society will remember what legacies it was able to make. This is what motivated me into getting into the startup ecosystem.
Why did you decide to establish Wela School Systems? And why did you decide to name it as such? What is the main problem that Wela is aiming to solve and how do you propose to solve it?
Prior to Wela, we established several startups. Before Wela, we made mobile games. However, these turned out to be unsuccessful. We were in the pursuit of having a product that could be sustainable and could scale. Before establishing Wela, the principal of the school where my brother’s kids were studying shared that the releasing of grades were difficult to execute: it would take them a month to release grades every term. The principal asked my brother if he could do anything about this. This is where we started. The most important thing for a startup is to start with a problem. We told the school that we would try to provide them with something that would be free of charge. However, if we prove to them that it would only take us 5 days to release the grades, as opposed to a month, then that’s the time payment would be made. Fortunately, they continued to subscribe to us. That has brought us to where we are now, with over 200+ schools in the Philippines subscribing to Wela.
We decided to name our startup as ‘Wela’ since back then, feminine names such as Siri and Alexa were popular. Also, this is a shorter term for the Filipino word eskwela. We decided to make the name playful and along with the trends during that time.
What differentiates Wela from other education technology startups?
First of all, we are not a Learning Management System (LMS). Wela is a school management system. It is pivoted towards the backend of the school system: we automate their processes. Second, we have scalable technology. We have proven that regardless of the number of users, our product can easily scale and accommodate any number of users. If the usage is high, it automatically scales. It is a seamless experience for our users. Third, our platform is flexible and customizable. Educational institutions want their own unique experience for students, parents, and teachers alike. Using Wela, schools can mix-and-match their grading systems. Lastly, we have complete end-to-end solutions. Compared to our competitors, some of their features are lacking. For instance, availing of an account module would require finding a new supplier, which would incur additional costs for the school. With Wela, it’s an end-to-end solution: everything they need is there already.
As one of the Startup World Cup x Wildfire finalists, what was your experience like? How can this experience help your company grow?
The event was incredibly helpful since we were able to network with a myriad of investors, mentors, and other startups. Possible partnerships were formed because of the event. After that event, we were noticed more by the public. Essentially it was free PR. Before this, we were under the radar and didn’t join events like that.
John Vincent Fiel is the Co-Founder and CEO of Wela, an EduTech startup that focuses on assisting the educational sector through technological innovation. Wela’s main goal is to automate processes that would create a smooth and easy experience for teachers, students, parents and other educational institutions alike. With extensive experience in Computer Science and Business, John, alongside his brother as the Co-Founder, has continued to help educational institutions in the Philippines through digitalization.