The Write Corner was set up by Eileen and Nicolette and it provides English and Creative Writing classes for kindergarten, primary and secondary students
What’s your story?
I graduated from university in May 2013. When I graduated, I was very fortunate to get what I thought was my dream job in one of the top PR agencies in Singapore. Though I learned a lot and genuinely planned to carve my career there, I wasn’t sure if I could find fulfillment and be happy there long term. About six months into my job, I quit and decided to teach tuition from home.
During my university life, I taught at a tuition centre and took up private tutoring assignments. Even when I was holding the PR job, I taught on the weekends so by the time I quit, I had about 3.5 years of experience in teaching writing for primary school students. It’s not a long time but it gave me some concrete methods on how to help children improve their writing and a good sense of the MOE syllabus as well as the Singapore education system at large.
I started giving out flyers and soon taught about 12 students from my home. In March 2014, I noticed a small corner HDB shop space just in next block from my house. It was about 300 square feet, a really small place and a thought crossed my mind; maybe I could teach there if the rent is not too expensive. I made a call in June 2014. The rent was decent. That is how The Write Corner started.
It has been 2 years 7 months since we opened at Blk 134 Lorong Ah Soo with a 300 square feet space.
We just opened our 3rd branch last July and have crossed 500 students this March 2017. We currently have 7 full-time staff on board, including my partner Eileen and myself.
I graduated with a business degree from University of London. While I was schooling, I spent about 5 years doing part time as an administrator at a tuition centre. My time there helped me a lot in setting up systems and understanding the operations and my target audience. On top of that, I also tutored a few students at their homes for a couple of years.
My first job was in the shipping industry and I soon found out that I found more fulfilment in the education industry. I joined Nicolette around October 2014 and it has been an exciting journey since.
What excites you most about your industry?
The children (be it educators from MOE schools or in the private industry) which we teach and impact. I often remind my teachers and staff that each student who walks into The Write Corner is someone’s child. Our professional duty and job is to create a nurturing and conducive learning environment so that we can help each child reach their highest potential and be the best writers they can be – regardless their background, behaviour or ability level.
Eileen: Helping children learn. Being able to see tangible improvements in their language over time makes me very happy and fulfilled. Also seeing the ideas and different parts of the business come together.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Nicolette & Eileen:
Born and bred in Singapore!
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Nicolette & Eileen:
We have never explored any other places to do business but from personal experience, Singapore is a great place to start an education business. The Singapore agencies offer robust support for SMEs. We have been grateful recipients of grants, workshops and mentorship programmes that have helped us to better as a business along the way.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Nicolette: “Hire slow, fire fast.”
Eileen: People are the heart of the business and we should make it a point to invest in them even if sometimes it doesn’t make the most sense financially.
Who inspires you?
Nicolette: So many. I am most inspired by people who live their lives with great discipline and purpose.
Eileen: My father. He is an entrepreneur himself. He is a hardworking man and has been running the business for almost 30 years.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Nicolette: In business, a common rule is that we should always try to heed to detect and fix any problems in a production process at the lowest-value stage possible. It is something I knew all along but did not know how to communicate to my team. Andrew Grove explained that, along with other important business processes, so well and comprehensibly in his book, High Output Management. It is a great book for any (aspiring) manager.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nicolette: Spend more time to think and reflect. Listen more than I speak.
Eileen: I would have taken more time to look at the bigger picture than focus on firefighting / the current problems and needs only.
How do you unwind?
Nicolette: Netflix! Also, spending time with my husband and family.
Eileen: Good food and Netflix. Definitely no talking at all.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Nicolette: So far, it’s been Korea. I like the city life in Seoul and the nature and sea in Jeju.
Eileen: Bangkok. Cheap shopping, massages and yummy food.
Shameless plug for your business:
The Write Corner provides English and creative writing classes for kindergarten, primary and secondary students. We run a maximum class size of 7 students. At the Kindergarten level, we use a fun, multi-sensory approach to help children build foundations in the language. At the primary and secondary level, we use a structured skills-based approach to help them progress as they study under the MOE syllabus in schools.
Our team is young but extremely dedicated and passionate. Eileen and myself work closely with our teachers to ensure that teaching and marking standards are consistent and excellent across the branches.
I would also like to add that there are many different language teaching approaches that are offered in the private industry. Because each child is uniquely different, Eileen and myself believe it is important that both the parent and the explore their options to find a centre or school whose curriculum and team are a good fit for them.
How can people connect with you?
You can reach us via our website: www.thewritecorner.sg
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>