Pass.ng CEO, Samson Abioye, discusses his startup’s recent hot streak and milestones for 2016

By  |  0 Comments

Pass.ng has a noble goal – using technology, the platform’s aim is to build an optimal examination testing and learning environment for students. The eLearning startup has been on a hot streak for a while now, – winning the Airtel Catapult-A-Startup initiative in February last year, securing a partnership with WeChat to close out the year, qualifying for the regional finals of the Challenge Cup earlier this year, in January.

Enterprise54 was able to track down Samson Abioye, (CEO and one of the co-founders) to discuss the progress they’ve made so far.

So, Pass.ng is now on WeChat. Apart from the increased accessibility it offers, (WeChat users can now take the tests from inside the app) how else does this benefit Pass.ng? Doesn’t that increase your workload a bit?

This comes with increased visibility and distribution for our product. You may have noticed our ads on BRT buses, radio and some TVC. For a startup like ours, getting our brand out there is really helpful. Well of course it does increase our workload. You can imagine building an app on top of an already existing platform. We had to understand WeChat development pre-requisite and some other connections to different API. Overall, it was fun achieving those goals as we didn’t see it as being burdensome because we began with the end in mind. The Pass.ng-WeChat partnership has afforded more students to use our product.

I like the fact that you can compare your scores with the scores of other students on the site. Which makes me curious. How do you decide what features to add/include in the app/service? Is there a democratic process or it’s your call eventually?

We are close to our users. Sometimes we have an event, called UX (user experience) in-house. There we study our users, see how they use our products and come up with features that matter most to them. Also we have a brilliant and energetic team with whom we brainstorm after interacting with our users.

Pass.ng looks like a programming intensive platform. How much did your programming background help with the success of the platform? Do you think this would be possible for someone without that technical knowhow?

I can’t rule out the mileage we got from being tech co-founders. I, Adebagbo Joshua, Abayomi Akanji and Imole Oluyemi studied computer science and engineering in university Ladoke Akintola University of Technology where we learnt programming and software development. On a couple of occasions, we represented our university in both local and international events.  The thing about running a tech-startup business is that you’ve got to iterate a lot until you find the right product-market fit. Having a good knowledge of tools to use and the technical know-how is extremely essential as you can extend your run time, iterate, measure feedback and improve the product.

pass.ng founders

L-R: Imole Oluyemi, Samson Abioye, Adebagbo Joshua (Pass.ng founders)

How is the B2B channel doing? How many organisations are you talking to about using the Pass.ng platform to deliver standardised tests? Do you think Pass.ng is ready for that phase?

The B2B channel is currently in the pipeline and we will be launching this in collaboration with one of the leading companies in that space. Surprisingly, as a result of Pass.ng Excellence Awards which held in 2015 where we rewarded the top 10 UTME students, we’ve received invitations from various academic organizations to deliver our solution to their users. That’s another B2B.

What features are you releasing this year? What do we have to look forward to from Pass.ng this year? (I’m secretly hoping you’ll say this is the year people can prepare for professional exams especially ICAN and ACCA)

Oh well you made a right guess. We are looking to cater for ICAN, GMAT, JSSCE, and CEE (Common Entrance Examination). We also will add more universities to the list of available Post UTME examinations on our Platform. At the moment, we’ve got about 50 of them. As to features, we are launching Tutorial Connect Center where students can discover credible tutorial centres around their location for more learning. Also we are adding video tutorials to the plethora of contents available on Pass.ng.

What determines which exams to include on the platform? What numbers/KPIs are you monitoring?

We look at big and fundamental problems that have a large market. We love to solve big tasks. The bigger the tasks, the bigger the number of lives we are impacting.  We look at exams that give people the most difficulties and that sort of gives us a “hero to villain” picture. And of course we (Pass.ng) want to be the hero helping people pass!

pass.ng

How is Pass.ng currently doing, by the numbers? How many users? Exams taken? Staff? Monthly revenue? That sort of thing.

Currently we’ve gotten over 160 thousand users , more than  1.5M exams taken on platform. Our staff strength is close to a score comprising of different teams. Our monthly revenue is for our books alone *winks*.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned last year?

My biggest lessons were:

i. The will must be greater than the skill. I realised that the best teams are not those with more experience or better qualification but those with grit to move faster than others. The only way to be sure you are doing the right things is by validating your ideas and assumption through quick execution.

ii. Hire right. You see everybody is a winner on paper (good CVs). It’s in the flesh that the difference stands out. It’s very easy to hire wrongly comparing resume. Hiring the right people is the greatest talent a manager can have because good people produce good work and lousy people do lousy work. For start-ups like ours, to provide excellent content and an engaging platform, getting the right team is paramount.

iii. Forget the hype. Eyes on the goal, focus on your customers and work hard. Then, go for the hype.

I read that the Pass.ng pass rate is really good (60% of your users scored above 200 in their JAMB exams). That means you’re doing something right. How does that make you feel?

The height of any venture is to see how their product is directly transforming their target audience. This is what Pass.ng is doing, helping students prepare better for their exams.  We are extremely delighted to have gotten such feedback but most importantly, it’s a pointer that our students aren’t dull. They just don’t cover all the bases before approaching their exams. This development inspired the creation of an annual event called Pass.ng Excellence Awards. From the feedback we got from our users, we selected the top 10 students and rewarded them with scholarships and prizes in a bid to reward excellence and inspire fellow students to give their best in the course of their academic pursuit.

happywheels

I'm 3 parts geek, 1 part funny man, and the last part is between me and my shrink. Technology Editor at Enterprise54. I write about (obsess over) gadgets, tech and startups. Send me stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>