Gian Scotties Javelona is the founder of OrangeApps, a school management platform that helps schools in the Philippines manage their processes such as enrollments, curriculum, and tuition.
He has also just made the list of Forbes’s 30 Under 30 Asia‘s list for 2017. Despite all the achievements at his young age, he has remained humble with an easy going personality.
Human Asia was given the opportunity to conduct this exclusive interview with Gian.
You achieved fame with your first app when you were 19 years old. Tell us a little bit more about that.
Gian: As a student, I experienced the inefficiencies of the school enrollment and registration process. The painful three to four hour process of enrollment, as well as the lack of school notification updates was unacceptable for me, so I ended up creating a solution.
I borrowed a friend’s laptop and mobile phone and developed an Android application that allowed me to access the school database much faster. With the use of our phones, students were able to enroll through their mobile devices instead of doing so manually. I also aggregated all the school news so that my fellow classmates can get updates in real-time.
How has OrangeApps developed and progressed since that first application?
Gian: At first we were thinking of tapping into the school’s existing software. But after visiting schools, we realized that they either didn’t have a system or were paying for multiple softwares that were outdated, un-secure, and difficult to integrate. We decided to offer schools a cloud based all-in-one web and mobile platform, both IOS and Android, that allows schools and universities to manage its operations using an end-to-end solution.
Who are your main target users and clients?
Gian: Our target consists of K-12 Schools, Colleges, Universities, as well as short-course schools. In the end, we build our platform to be able to adapt to any school in need.
What was the biggest challenge for OrangeApps in the beginning, and what is your biggest challenge right now?
Gian: Initially, it was finding the right people. I was 19 years old when I started this company, and who would want to work for a 19-year-old CEO who had no job experience and money to pay them? Nevertheless, our persistence to never stop learning enabled us to create successful engineering and customer happiness teams that we are proud of.
Currently, the biggest challenge we’re experiencing would be fixing some of our start-up level processes. Like any start-up company, people wear multiple hats at OrangeApps. We understand that in order for us to scale at the speed we want, we’ll need to fix and optimize our internal process.
Any expansion plans for OrangeApps beyond the Philippines?
Gian: Most definitely. We are excited to pilot some schools in Indonesia and Vietnam this year. Our team understands that these schools are also experiencing similar issues and we’ll be happy to solve their problems as well. In the end, we want to provide our platform to all schools that are in need.
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Gian, tell us more about yourself. What were your hobbies growing up?
Gian: Growing up, I enjoyed breaking things down and rebuilding them. I was curious about technology and how things worked. Whether it was the internet, video games, and virtual reality. I was always interested and wanted to know how things worked.
You were a mini-celebrity entrepreneur when you first started. Tell us what impact this had on your entrepreneurial journey since.
Gian: It was not a desire of mine to become one. I was merely just solving my own problem when I was a student. However, I hated the “bahala na” or “whatever, that’ll do” mentality and I was fed up with the process at my school. Even though I had no resources available to me, I wanted to find a way because I knew it would make an impact in the country.
The media exposure most definitely helped me become the person that I am today. I would never have experienced all the lessons, the partnerships, the failures, and the grit without it.
How important is social impact and sustainability to your business models and future plans?
Gian: We believe that social responsibility is a must for our organization. Our diverse group of employees mainly originated from the province to work for us because they believe in our vision for education. From a former pedicab driver, farmer, and even a balut vendor turned developer, we’ve provided our employees the proper training in order to do the things they love, which is coding. In the end, Orangeapps exists because we want to build solutions that will solve real world problems, and we’re starting with schools initially.
Any regrets in your entrepreneurial journey?
Gian: I don’t have any regrets. I love what I’m doing and I’m happy for all the experiences, good or bad, in this journey. I appreciate the lessons, the failures, the people, and especially the wins!
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Gian: There is no risk in trying, only regret!