Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse stories with the mission to inspire kids and youth around the world to become empathetic entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by a character named Spiffy, with founders working on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For December, the focus is on SDG 5 – Gender Equality and SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities. There is so much at stake, so let’s see what’s being done!
Hi Earthlings, my name is Spiffy, the interplanetary journalist. I love all things learning, education, and entrepreneurship. That’s why I’m interviewing Kloe Ng from Out of the Box – did you know Kloe was the inspiration for the recent book The Flood on Fanoolu?
SPIFFY: Hi Kloe. Long time no see, could you tell me what you’ve been up to?
Kloe: Hi Spiffy, I’ve been enjoying your interviews so far! We’re working to address a lack of quality and affordable preschool education all over the world, especially in developing countries. Out of the Box is a mobile, modular classroom comprising of two products - a hardware mobile classroom that can open up into a versatile learning environment anywhere in the world, as well as the companion web app that pushes curriculum to help the facilitator/adult conduct lessons better.
SPIFFY: Aww thanks, I’m glad you enjoy them. What prompted you to start Out of the Box?
Kloe: My co-founder and I are passionate about education, have done volunteering work in that field, and have also co-founded an education startup prior called Explorer Junior as well. The experiences were humbling, and it exposed us to the fact that often the children who need education most are the ones deprived of it. Both of us also have had the good fortune of receiving higher education, and it is important that we pass these opportunities on to more children.
SPIFFY: We’ve both dedicated ourselves to education! :) How are you making sure your solution makes education more accessible and equitable?
Kloe: For starters, we are committed to deploying our product in places with underprivileged children. While our product also solves a need in developed countries, we will be donating our product to a place that needs it for every one sold. The box is also designed with accessibility in mind – everyone should have a classroom no matter the circumstances.
SPIFFY: How have you overcome failure with Out of the Box?
Kloe: Failure of all sorts is commonplace for an entrepreneur - the latest one I remember is a rejection from a potential investor. However, through these failures, I have learned to see the positive aspects of it - each time you fail you learn why you failed and what you can avoid the next time. Borrowing the famous adage from Thomas Edison - "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
SPIFFY: It’s fitting advice, you’re an inventor just like Edison. What’s someone you’ve learned from unexpectedly?
Kloe: Perhaps not “someone” directly, but recently I got hooked on Shark Tank and absolutely loved it. For those unfamiliar with it, Shark Tank is a television program that has entrepreneurs pitching their ideas and asking for equity. The serial entrepreneurs on the show (also known as Sharks) will then decide whether to invest in the company or not. I was watching old episodes, so a quick google search quickly revealed whether these experienced investors were right or wrong back then - and often it's a 50/50. I think that's analogous to the real world for the entrepreneur - there will always be people that tell you whether it works (or not) and at the end of the day, you have to stick to your guns and do your best.
SPIFFY: Thank you so much for the interview Kloe! I’m glad you stick to your guns.
Kloe: Of course, Spiffy. Talk again soon!
Kloe is a graduate student at MIT, as well as a serial entrepreneur. She lives by the guiding reminder of Memento mori and it is important that the work she does in both her professional and private capacity has a lasting, positive impact on society. Her startup, Out of the Box, has won multiple awards including at the World Bank Youth Summit and is the subject of the recent picture book The Flood on Fanoolu.