IziBAC – When Technology and Education Join Forces
Just like many other countries in the region, Romania still has a lot more to go when it comes to modernizing its education system. While some excel and reach the highest standards of excellence, many others are left behind. The massive disconnect between old teaching methods and today’s easy access to the media in every shape or form does not help either.
And nowhere is this problem more visible than in the case of the Baccalaureate exam, which represents a crucial moment for any 12-grader. This exam is crucial when it comes to enrolling at a university, getting a job or pursuing other options. In 2019, more than 30% of all the students who took the exam did not pass. Not getting a good grade, or even worse, not passing, is seen as a massive failure, which makes many students fear its approach.
IziBAC comes to their aid, by offering an accessible, fun and personalized way of learning, which provides students with more flexibility and autonomy. The app, available on both Android and iOS, helps students go through the material, learn, re-learn and test their knowledge. The aim is not only to help them pass their exams, but also to show a new way of gaining knowledge. The app comes to the aid of teachers too. As much as they would like to, giving enough time to each and every student in a class of 30 is challenging, not to call it next to impossible.
IziBAC is a passion project initiated by Raluca Bacinschi-Stratulat, someone who knows quite a bit about education, from pitfalls to success stories and anything in between, as she explains:
“ I am an architect by trade and a teacher by vocation. I own a company which offers vocational counseling for high school students, while also acting as an informal professor for architecture students or high schoolers who want to study in this area. So far I’ve had spectacular results after working directly with 90 of them. During this direct teaching experience, I’ve noticed certain learning needs, which in time lead to the development of the vision of the company, vision which revolves around a simple idea. The learning process should be fun and technology is the way to go in order to reform the educational system – first at the national level and then internationally. I know it will not be easy, but I am willing to dedicate my life to this endeavor, in spite of the risk of failure. I want to make education fun, not a chore. And nothing motivates me more than the amazing children I work with or had the pleasure to work with in the past.”
Izibac has gone a long way since its inception, being recognized by the community for its positive impact on the new generation:
“We have over 30,000 users and we have won several awards for social impact, including The Seal of Excellence for innovation, offered by the European Commission. Recently, several highly experienced investors in the US have invited us there next year to see if we can replicate the model. We have already developed a spinoff, SmartBus, which allows children to play in the famous yellow buses.” – says Raluca.
Today, Raluca and her husband Adrian, are joined by Eduard, Razvan, Laurentiu, Adrian and Alexandru, developers and content creators who are all united by the same passion for education. The great reception in the community encouraged the team to work even harder at developing a great product.
One of the aspects they take most pride in is the gamification process, which makes the product addictive in the best way possible:
“What we love most is hearing about students becoming immersed in the game experience and losing track of time. At the end, they realize just how much they’ve learned without experiencing the annoyance usually associated with studying”. – adds Raluca.
And there’s much more to come! IziBAC is looking into expanding to other markets such as Italy, Spain or Bulgaria. But the scope of their vision goes way beyond Europe. The team is more than interested in expanding to the United States or even Africa, as long as there is a market and some impact to be made in the way we do education. In order for this vision to become a reality, IziBAC is looking for partners and investors – bootstrapping can only take one so far.
Social entrepreneurship is both very hard and very rewarding. No one can deny that. But the “very hard” part still prevents many young people from starting their own endeavor.
“Try to turn your idea into a real, sustainable business. The goal to improve the lives of a certain category of people, to bring positive impact to society, is nothing but a noble one and deserves all the support it can get. However, financial sustainability is a must. You can’t change the world if you can’t afford to pay your bills. You need to maintain a fine balance between pragmatism and idealism. But first of all patience and perseverance will keep you going. If you are willing to learn new things and keep going, success will come, sooner or later.” – concludes Raluca.