How Knowledge and Experience Led to Founding Erudera
Erudera is a startup from Prishtina that is trying to bring innovation to high education. Participating in the Western Balkan Investment Readiness program, the team structured their business and started seeking suitable investments.
Erudera is the “world's first search platform in the education space backed by Artificial Intelligence”. It is built to help students choose their ideal university or study program based on their personality, academic achievements, career prospects, and personal preferences.
As a company, we might refer to Erudera as a COVID-19 child, but the idea of an AI platform that would help students decide what is the right university for them was born long before the pandemic struck. Three friends and business partners, Gent Ukehajdaraj, Besart Bajrami, and Betim Drenica, had been playing with the idea for quite some time. Finally, in 2020, with the outbreak of COVID-19, they saw the opportunity: the transformation of the higher education industry was being forced to accelerate. They knew the timing was right to gather their ideas, unite their expertise, and create something meaningful.
With previous experience in the higher education area gained through their collaboration on Inquero, a specialized information publishing and news platform, and Quantix, a software development company specialized in AI and Machine Learning solutions, Gent, Besart and Betim knew what to do and where to start. Moreover, they perfectly understood the problems universities and students face and had an idea for a solution. As Gent explains:
The most important lesson I learned from my previous experience is that developing the best product won't make a difference if you don't focus on solving a problem people have. The market has all the answers you're looking for, and if you're not listening closely to the market, you're going to have trouble along the way.
With market demands in mind, Erudera was released in spring 2022. Before the official launch, the platform had 2,000 registered students who could choose between 23,000 universities and 64,000 study programs.
The fact that the platform was built and is run in Kosovo is a great inspiration and success story for the entire region. However, it also brings a set of challenges that Gent and his team must navigate:
Building a global platform like Erudera means you have really big competitors you have to deal with, who have easier access to capital, specialized staff, and a robust support system. If we want to raise funds, we have to knock on doors outside of Kosovo and play by their rules, which often means moving our team and business to a different country. We also don't have enough talent in Kosovo with global market experience, so eventually, we'll have to hire people from the region and beyond. And, of course, having a proper system in place that supports startups would make things much easier. Swiss EP is doing a great job here, but I think the government should step in and do more. We have a young population that is tech-savvy and can learn quickly. We just need to guide them in the right direction.
To support teams like Erudera, Swiss EP facilitated the Western Balkans Investment Readiness Program and MatchIn Investment Forum in the first half of 2022. Gent participated in both, the program and the Forum.
The WB IRP and the workshops were valuable to us in getting clarity about what we want as a startup, how we should approach startup investors, and how to structure everything. The MatchIn Investor Forum that came after the program was on a whole different level. All the days leading up to the event simply got us moving and taking action. I'm thrilled we got to be a part of the program, connect with super smart and hard-working founders from the region, and meet one-on-one with investors. The program opened many doors for us, and that's what every startup needs. I think the future editions of the event will be even better and will contribute even more to strengthening the ties within the region.
Erudera has already become a global sensation—the news about the platform launch was shared by some of the most reputable global media, including Forbes and the UK edition of MSN. The team’s start has been excellent, and we're looking forward to seeing their future success. Until that happens, Gent has words of encouragement for his peers:
I think more people need to join forces and get together if they want to build great ideas. The future seems bright for Kosovo and the whole region, but we need to work together more, share the experience, and move beyond prejudice. My advice to all entrepreneurs starting their businesses now is to stay focused and keep going. This journey is not easy, and often you won't have the support you need, but it's your moral obligation to never give up, solve real problems, and make the world a better place.