This week in our #StartupHighlight we’re introducing Innventors. A Colombian EdTech company that teaches children coding, robotics and design.
Daniela and Laura Parra created Innventors just two years ago. They decided to expand to Canada and participated in LatAm Startups’ Softlanding program this year in March.
How was Innventors created?
Daniela: Our mom has a tech company in Colombia, and I was working with her back then. However, I wanted to pursue something that I am passionate about, which is education. The education system teaches children subjects such as maths, physics, chemistry, but they do not teach the children how to apply them in real life. It also does not focus on discovering and bringing out the passion in each child. I saw the growing importance of technological knowledge and coding as a skill for children, and yet these are not provided in the education system. I also realized that the system needs a technology that connects with the children to the knowledge they learned in the classroom, because just the teachers themselves are not enough to do that. Disappointed with the current education system, I started to research about the best systems, the technology they use, how they are using the technology, and their methodologies. I want children to be interested in technology and coding as they will definitely widen the possibilities of finding their passion. It was then that I started giving random workshops with Lego and used different types of technology in my workshops, to let children build software, robots, etc – applying their knowledge to invent something. This is how our company name “Innventors” was born.
Laura: Before Innventors, I was working for 5 years for the government in Colombia. My background is sociology and peace building. I work a lot with communities, women, and victims of conflict. I loved what I’ve done, but the work was really hard for me. One day, Daniela came to me with an idea. She was disappointed with the educational system and she wanted to do something about it. She wanted to solve the problem she had in the past, as she felt that what she learned in school does not really prepare her for real life. I decided to join her because I realized that I can still help people through another method, and most likely in an area that I will enjoy better.
Why did you decide to expand into Canada? How is your experience so far?
We decided to expand to Canada because in Colombia, social, demographic and economic problems exist. These resulted in a culture that is unwilling to pay for our services, and this resulted in a barrier for Innventors to grow. There are bigger problems that parents have to take care of first than paying extra for education outside of school. They may understand how important it is for their children to learn STEM skills, but it is not their priority. We hope that with the work we are doing in Canada, we can come back to Colombia and offer them more affordable courses. This is the social value we have in our company. We care very much about our community and we want to give back them even after we are established in Canada.
It is strange, but in Latin America in general, the people tend to be more trusting and open to foreign companies, but cautious when it comes to their own Latin American companies. I think that their perspective needs to change in the future. By incorporate in Canada, it will be easier for us to expand in both Latin America and North America.
Our experience expanding to Canada has been a huge challenge for us. We can see that there is a lot of opportunities available here, but we have to work a lot more than we used to. Back in Colombia, we have a team that supports us. Meanwhile here, it is only the two of us. We have to find ways to make things happen while figuring out the ecosystem and how things work here. We think Canada is a country that cares about its education system very much and provides the best resources to teach their students. With this existing culture, along with the rapidly growing tech scene, it is easier for Innventors to grow in the ecosystem. Canadians understand the importance of coding, and are seeking for courses such as ours to complement the education their children are receiving.
What are your current projects?
We are going to have 4-week programs for our major customers! The first one is a taekwondo school which has a franchise all over Toronto. We are going to start our workshops in one of the locations, and once successful, we will have a huge chance to be able to do the workshops in their other locations. We are also going to have a workshop in collaboration with Teach to Learn, which is going to be held in a Catholic school with Hispanic children. Having a workshop at school is beneficial to introduce our brand into the education system, and a step closer to our goal of reaching the Toronto School Board, to hopefully be able to incorporate our workshops to be a part of the educational curriculum.
Currently, we are in the process of incorporating our business in Canada with the help of a company referred by LatAm Startups. This process is straightforward and easy to do. However, the immigration is the one that is more complicated. We think that since the startup ecosystem here in Canada is growing, the country needs to have a more flexible immigration process for startups. It is because even if the company is incorporated but one of us gets rejected for a visa, they are also rejecting the company as only one person is not enough to run the business in Canada.
I heard that you had a successful event at the International Music Festival! Tell us more about it!
Of course! We were so satisfied with how the workshop went. We had a booth at the International Music Festival, and 22 children came for our workshop, when we only had space for 20. They seemed to really enjoy our session and were very happy. Since it was in a music festival, there were a lot of noise and distractions. However, we were very impressed because the kids were entirely focused on their work. We also definitely did not expect that this workshop will become one of our best experiences as an entrepreneur, teacher, and as a person.
One of our participants was a girl with a disability that came with her mother pretty early for our workshop. She was so focused and actively participating in the activities. At the end of the session, her mother came to see her daughter’s work. The girl enthusiastically explained her newest invention, and said that it was one of the happiest moments in her life because she had just made a robot! Listening to her daughter say that and seeing the huge smile on her face, the mother stepped out of the tent and started to cry. It was a very touching moment for us, to see that what we are doing have this much impact on other people’s lives. This is exactly what we want—We do not want to be just a company that gives workshops; We want to give them beautiful moments through our workshops, so that the children can go back home after our workshop and say “This is the best summer camp” or “The best moment of my life”. This kind of situation is much more valuable than money. This is the reason why we put all our passion into Innventors.
Innventors will offer workshops in GTA while developing the programs they are also in the process to create a franchise to scaleup their workshops in North America initially.