[Startup story] ONE Learning | RubikEDU Batch 6
November 6, 2023
First of all, we would like to know who’s behind the keyboard.
I’m Ioana Axinte, and I play at the intersection of early years education, tech, and business. I’ve spent over a decade of my life in the education system and seen the impact of transformation when educational programs are learner-centered, knowledge is applied to real-world scenarios, collaboration is fostered and trust and a positive environment are created.
I believe that this type of learning is the key to unlocking solutions for today’s and future challenges. I led the design and delivery of national and international educational programs from youth outreach and entrepreneurship, executive leadership education, pitching competitions, and start-up incubation and acceleration for the past ten years for leading organizations.
Tell us more about your startup. Refer to the problem it solves, for whom it solves it, and how it does so.
I took everything that I learned and together with an awesome team, we created ONE Learning, the playful learning app for parents and kids (3-8), offering thousands of practical off-screen step-by-step activities that unlock children’s essential skills for school and life.
Our Moonshot is to help create over 1 billion moments of connection and happiness between parents/careers/grandparents and their wonderful kids, fostering a positive foundation for their future learning, health, and wellbeing.
The reality is that parents are expected to work like they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work. Unfortunately, parents today spend fewer than 30 minutes of quality time with their children. ”Connecting with your child or children is difficult when we all lead such busy lives” – one parent told us recently.
In addition, the cost of living crisis is making it hard for parents to afford early care and support, especially in remote areas. The first 8 years of development in a child’s life are forming the blueprint of the adult they will become, influencing the brain architecture and setting the foundation for their future learning, health, behavior, and happiness outcomes. At the moment, more than 175 million children – around half of pre-primary-age children globally – are not enrolled in pre-primary education, missing a critical investment opportunity and suffering deep inequalities from the start.
Our purpose is to make quality early years education accessible for all, working towards the UN SDG 4 Goal. We’ve created ONE Learning to be the go-to playful learning app, where busy parents can find quick 10-15-minute off-screen activity ideas (including step-by-step guides) based on their kids’ curiosity/interests and materials they currently have in the house. The most important gift that parents can offer their kids is their presence and attention. We wanted to make it easier for parents to focus on what is important, rather than spending hours researching for ideas.
Do you already have a team supporting you? If yes, tell us more about it.
I have the most amazing team of talented and purpose-driven individuals. We all share the same vision and decided to bring our best skills, knowledge, and expertise to make it happen, working together across three time zones. Everything that we’ve accomplished has been a team effort, and we are proud that we’ve managed to bootstrap our startup.
Myself, Steve & Azhar are working on developing the product based on our customers’ feedback, Ligia is making magic leading our digital marketing, Sorana & Bianca developing the educational content and Alisha bringing our characters to life.
For a startup, many aspects contribute to success. Motivation and founder/market fit are among the key factors. Tell us what’s your “why”.
For us is creating a unique and innovative product that helps families and enhances their lives by bringing joy, laughter, and connection. There is no better feeling in the world, than knowing that what you’ve created can play a vital role in ensuring children experience a joyful childhood and supporting parents on their journey, leaving a lasting legacy and impact for generations. This is our “Why”.
At the same time, I have a deep belief that purpose-driven companies can also achieve global success and leave a lasting positive legacy for future generations, whilst looking after the planet, their people, and stakeholders – this is my North Star. We only have one life, so why limit ourselves, when we have the freedom to create, innovate, and challenge the status quo?
You were part of RubikEDU #6. Please share how the program has impacted your journey and what you appreciated the most.
The RubikEDU program exceeded all my expectations – from the supportive environment created by the team, and learning from the peer network to the insights gained from the mentors and experts – the program helped us shape our go-to-market strategy. In addition to this, taking part in the Demo Day also brought exposure and opened doors and opportunities that otherwise we couldn’t have access to. It was an incredible experience, and I’m grateful for the whole team. #WeAreInThisTogether
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Firstly, I would say the team and creativity that comes from combining our unique strengths to find solutions to everyday challenges. I have the utmost confidence in the team and that together we can figure out anything that comes our way.
Secondly, we are obsessed with solving problems for our customers and always listen to their feedback, and co-designing the product together. It is nice to have a blank canvas and see how it changes over time.
Finally, we wanted to innovate the early years of education space and use technology as a tool for good. For us, localization of early years curriculum and personalization is our main focus.
What are your plans for your startup in the next 6-12 months?
There are three key areas: bringing gamification elements, community, and building awareness around the importance of early years education. We are also open to having conversations with any angel investors that align with our values and mission.
What are the biggest rewards of being a startup founder?
Personally, I love the entrepreneurship journey because every single day I get to learn, grow, and develop and I get to have different experiences that take me out of my comfort zone – and I love a good challenge.
Working with a team and creating something that didn’t exist before is also thrilling and if this can be used to bring positive change, connection, and happiness and help children build a great foundation then that’s the ultimate reward.
What about the biggest challenges?
Biggest challenges for anyone wanting to start from my own experience and perspective: your own limitations/beliefs, time and funding 🙂
Before leaping, I took time to understand who I am, what is important to me, what are my values, and how I would like my life to unfold – this offers clarity and also helps you make better decisions when it comes down to your business. Secondly, looking back at my early years, the business world didn’t feel accessible to girls, especially what you saw in the media and society’s standard of what a business leader is and should be. To overcome this limitation, I connected to the higher mission of what we want to achieve and also made up what business means for me – it is our creative expression of who we are, it is a mirror that shows what we stand for and what is important for us in this life. If more business leaders would look at what they are creating in this way, we wouldn’t have many of the problems we see in the world today.
Once you know yourself, even if time and resources are low at the beginning you will find a way to be resourceful and create opportunities for yourself if you believe in what you are creating.
Why would you recommend others with a startup idea apply to our program?
What I loved about the program is the opportunity for peer learning, gaining new perspectives from other founders, and access to a network of experienced mentors, advisors, and industry experts who can provide guidance and insights to help refine your business model and strategy. It also allows you to receive valuable feedback and you get to validate your startup idea faster or pivot. It is also a great opportunity to create lasting friendships.
What message do you have for other startup founders?
Just start and always ask for help along the way.