Morphoses: The edtech Startup teaches children the value of soft skills
Startupper.gr spoke with Anna Natsvlishvili, co-founder and CEO of Morphoses, about the company's innovative project, the importance of soft skills and the plans of the edtech Startup for the next day
In recent years, a term that makes its appearance more often in physical and digital forums is the so-called soft skills. Large companies worldwide have already set as a prerequisite the existence of developed skills that refer to the combination of a person’s interpersonal communication abilities, personal beliefs, overall approach to life and work, emotional intelligence and basic personality traits.However, the usefulness of soft skills extends far beyond the limits of the global labor market. Developed skills of this type now find application in most aspects of modern people’s life.
Building on the growing importance of “horizontal skills”, Morphoses, a dynamic edtech Startup, gives the opportunity to young students – but also to professionals – not only to be informed but also to develop skills that will accompany them throughout their later life, in an instructive and at the same time fun way.
Startupper.gr spoke with Morphoses co-founders, Anna Natsvlishvili, Ilya Tzortzopoulou, and Alexandros Pithamitsis, about the company’s innovative project, the importance of soft skills and the plans of the edtech Startup for the next day.
Startupper.gr: How Morphoses started and who are behind the project?
A. Natsvlishvili: Morphoses is an English Startup, active in the field of education technology. Its platform, currently offered only to businesses and educational institutions, offers parents the easiest access to online courses aimed at enhancing soft skills/ human skills- or horizontal skills- for their children. Its founders, Anna Natsvlishvili (CEO), Vasiliki (Ilia) Tzortzopoulou (COO) and Alexandros Pithamitsis (CPO) share a common vision: to create a better world for children, a more “open-minded” world, which accepts diversity and consists of happy people. This norm is shared by the entire Morphoses team, which is growing, and includes: Panagiotis Bochalis
(Lead Software Engineer), Stavros Grigoriou (Senior Software Engineer), Agelos Tsalapatis (Software Engineer), Maria
Kantani (Head of Content R&D), Maria Doulgeraki (Content and R&D Associate) and
Panos Andrikopoulos (Content and Community Associate).
Startupper.gr: What is Morphoses’ vision and mission?
A. Natsvlishvili: Our vision was born out of a strong desire to redefine the core of learning, in such a way that it focuses on developing those skills that remain critical throughout life. Our vision is democratization and equal security of access to education that enhances human skills – both on the part of the learner and on the part of the trainer.
We want to make it equally possible and easy for a child from Rhodes, a child from London and a child from Nigeria to participate. But we want to give the opportunity, the training and the tools to all those who share our vision and want to contribute to the children’s experience.This is why we choose teaching using the Internet: to enable all those who wish to be educate and inspire children, to enable all children to register and experience the trained teachers of our platform.
For the same reason, we place great emphasis on creating a community of trainers who will interact, create, innovate. Because this educational experience, which will provide children with the motivation, inspiration and skills to effectively meet every challenge they choose, remaining happy and functional in a constantly changing world, is what we want for everyone. And educators are the “key” to this experience, which helps children become the best version of themselves.
Morphoses was created with a simple yet extremely important mission: to inspire children to love learning, in its non-formal and deeply personal version. The way in which we will achieve this is none other than the combination of excellent pedagogical planning with the appropriate tools and content that can mobilize the interest and initiative of children. Thus, the enhancement of soft skills / human skills takes the form of a pleasant interactive game, through social and person-centered activities.
Startupper.gr: What stage are you at today?
I. Tzortzopoulou: At Morphoses, the main priority is and will be the reliability of our product. Before making Morphoses’ platform public, we reached out to HR Departments (more here) and Educational Institutions (more here).These valuable collaborations have allowed us to implement the educational content of the platform on a pilot basis, in order to ensure the best possible result for our future trainees. And we have made it!
Our partners are based mainly in Europe, and within the first months of 2022 we will expand both in the UK market and in the United States market.
Therefore, so far, we have mainly been working with Human Resources Departments of global companies and with Educational Institutions. Our cooperation is interactive: we do everything we can to ensure that employees’ children are happy, creative and enhance their soft skills/ human skills, while companies with the assistance of Morphoses ensure more personalized benefits to working parents – therefore happier parents, more loyal and satisfied.Is there anything more beautiful than knowing that your employer cares about your family and especially about your child’s education?
Startupper.gr: Morphoses is successfully active in the field of edtech. What opportunities did you see in this fast-growing industry and how do you meet these needs? What is the basic business model?
A. Pithamitsis: As HolonIQ mentioned, the edtech sector is growing by 16.3% and continues to grow 2.5% more from 2019 to 2025, reaching 404 billion dollars worldwide. About 90% of edtech companies are based in Asia and the USA. Thus, we understand that the market in Europe – particularly in southeastern Europe – is several steps back in the fast-growing edtech sector.
So, we have identified this gap and started creating innovative models, combining current educational needs with the consumer market, investing in the creation of an upgraded version of education that, thanks to technology, is not limited by school hours, days, buildings or programs. That is what democratization means, that is Morphoses for us!
Startupper.gr: What new needs has the pandemic brought to the forefront for the education industry?
A. Natsvlishvili: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought one of the greatest upheavals in world history. We are no longer wondering if technology can optimize learning, but how this will be done with maximum benefit for learners.
Nowadays, those involved in education are looking for effective technological proposals- and not just for schools and their companies. The child-working parent dipole has now taken a central position.
Working parents were forced to work for long periods of time from home, while schools remained closed due to the pandemic.Modern data shows that 1 in 4 people are still considering finding a new job to better meet the dual role of working parent, while working parents in the U.S. lose a cumulative 720 million hours each week due to stress/anxiety and childcare, with women losing 49% more time than men. Morphoses offers a solution to precisely this problem. After all, happy children lead to happy parents!
Startupper.gr: How was Morphoses’ project originally funded? Do you participate in an incubator/accelerator?
I. Tzortzopoulou: Our motivation stems from entrepreneurship. We believe that the support we receive from great entrepreneurs and people in our network, who truly believe in our team and our capabilities, has benefited us many times: we learn from them and accelerate our growth.
Startupper.gr: In recent years there has been more and more reference to the so-called soft skills. What is their importance for children and how can they make use of them?
A. Pithamitsis: Soft skills – or horizontal skills – are skills that a person can develop throughout his life and are necessary for everyone. In recent years these skills have been recognized as so important that they are used by business executives and recruiters to distinguish between “suitable candidates” and “ideal candidates”.
Soft skills will not only help young trainees in their future professional aspirations, but will help them in every aspect of life. Deepening in skills such as curiosity, creativity, flexibility, initiative, resilience, emotional intelligence and empathy form a complete personality.
Enhancing soft skills in a fun and interesting way, especially at the age when perceptions and habits are still formed, is the key to the future development of the child at all levels!
That was, is and will be our goal.
Startupper.gr: How can new technologies change the field of education? Which of these does Morphoses’ platform use?
A. Pithamitsis: New technologies are indeed changing the field of education. Since Morphoses online courses are available to anyone who can register, the training is characterized by the comfort of home and participation from literally wherever we are in the world. Young learners have the opportunity to come into contact with peers from all over the world, exchange opinions and broaden their horizons, in a safe environment.
At Morphoses we have created our own platform, whose priority is to ensure the safety of children and the quality of the learning experience. Practices such as the recording of courses and the continuous evaluation by the trainees have been designed precisely for this purpose.
Startupper.gr: The Greek educational system has been suffering for decades from many pathologies. Can the solution finally come from Startups?
I. Tzortzopoulou: It is no secret that the education system has been having some weaknesses for years. Our goal is to reduce gaps and offer workable solutions. For us, the most exciting development of education will come from combining the expansion of open educational resources with the adoption of hybrid learning.
Startupper.gr: What are the short- and long-term goals for Morphoses?
A. Natsvlishvili: Over the last decade, we have seen the significant evolution of education thanks to technology- development which is reflected in the flourishing of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and online learning. Unfortunately, these are practices in which learners often processed a lot of data, but without having any kind of interaction.
For us at Morphoses, the future of education combines fun, engaging and interactive learning. To grow and flourish as personalities who act flexibly and effectively, we need to be exposed to different circumstances, share experiences and collaborate on processes of creation and learning. By combining these aspects with technology, we can provide top soft skills enhancement training experiences to children and adolescents.
Education and knowledge have no limits, and human relationships will always be the heart of education. Thus, it is clear that the role of the trainer in any learning community is irreplaceable. Morphoses emphasizes on creating a community that will generate value, always putting the learner at the centre – which in our case concerns the child or the teenager. The trainers who will be able to register on the platform and teach should complete the registration process which consists of several steps and be evaluated in each of them. The evaluation process has been created with strict specifications, so that the trainers who have access to the platform are able, in a pedagogically perfect way, to inspire the child to chart his own unique course, contributing to the creation of a better world.