Finnish firm BeiZ grows to become leading Western educational technology firm in China
BeiZ Oy, a developer of educational applications, was founded in 2010 in the heart of the global market economy in China. CEO Mika Heikinheimo tells how his own children inspired him to design digital educational applications.
"When living in Beijing, we couldn't find any sensible digital entertainment for the children. All of the applications were either heavy games or karaoke and dance applications. We wanted to create educational applications alongside them, which also provide good entertainment," Heikinheimo reminisces.
The result was the Lola Panda application series. Heikinheimo points out that BeiZ is the only company offering language and mathematics applications for 3 to 8-year-olds in rarer languages, such as Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian, as well as the more frequently spoken ones. In the last two years, there have been over 10 million downloads of the adventures of Lola Panda and her friends, with over 2 million registered users.
Rocky road to product development
Soon after its startup in China, BeiZ expanded into Finland. The company applied to Tekes for funding in order to produce more developed applications. According to Heikinheimo, while progress was smooth in many ways, the road was rocky in places.
"Product development normally involves a million issues. In our case, there was also a huge amount to learn and some misfortunes. Several changes occurred that were independent of us, including during the launch itself," Heikinheimo explains.
He remarks that it was Tekes' funding that secured the launch of the business, despite the difficulties. In addition, events forming part of the Learning Solutions programme provided an opportunity to become acquainted with the projects of other educational technology companies and trends in the sector.
"Despite the delay in the product launch, our project led to the creation of a unique educational environment, which we continue to develop. We'll launch the application, Lola's Learning World, in four of our larger market areas in the spring of 2015," states Heikinheimo.
Pre-school education a possible new conquest
Heikinheimo comments that the firm is already doing reasonably well in the United States and is one of the largest Western educational companies in China. However, he adds that the company is still giving thought to shaking up its business model.
"We market our product to consumers, but this is not bringing in enough revenue. This has led us to consider a shift towards the corporate side. We have already piloted our application in this new sector and it looks as though Lola Panda is ideal for pre-school teaching in kindergartens, for example," Heikinheimo affirms.
For further information, please contact
Mika Heikinheimo, CEO
Tel. +358 40 5039 5150
mika (at) beiz.com
Text: SST Viestintä