Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai, Founder and Chairman, Global Student Education Forum (GSEF)
To what end would a final-year Ph.D. candidate at Cambridge seek to create more distractions for himself in the form of an entrepreneurial venture. Since most of us would hardly go after a Ph.D., let alone at a prestigious university like Cambridge, we asked the man himself… Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai is the young entrepreneur behind Global Student Education Forum (GSEF) seeking to make a stand. The site is a supplement and a vital add on to the educational experience that universities around the world have to offer.
Natthapoj explained how his work will not just aid but amplify the learning process in a informative interview with Yourstory.
To what end has the Forum been created? What is its goal?
The Forum’s ultimate goal is to provide an on-line platform where students of universities around the world can engage in meaningful discussion and debate on education theories, policies and practices through its website (www.gseforum.org). The Forum also gives its members opportunities to meet with leading educationists and policy makers at home and abroad through a series of high-profile speaker events. To achieve our ‘equal access’ ethos, videos of all our speaker events can be accessed free of charge by students and education practitioners across the world via our website.How did GSEF procure the funding to make a start?
GSEF got its initial funding from a Cambridge-based international education consultancy, which allowed us to create a website and organize our speaker events in the first term. Then, we have received further funding from other education-related non-profit organizations.
What was the first sign that your venture had gained a viable audience?
When we have attracted nearly 1,000 web users and have attracted a long list of high-profile and leading figures in the field of Education from the UK and overseas. A full-page article about GSEF was featured in a publication, called Research Intelligence (Issue 111), which is produced by the prestigious British Educational Research Association.
What is your plan of action for the future?
GSEF aims to establish at least two regional centres in 2011 and further two in 2012 to cover Asia, North America, Latin America, and Africa, in addition to our already existing UK/Europe centre, through adopting the organizational model that works in Cambridge, England.
What hurdles have you had a lot of difficulty in crossing?
One of the biggest challenges for GSEF has been raising necessary funding to keep the Forum going. Currently, we start to move away from asking for sponsorship money and donation towards trying to generate our own income, using experimental approach, which cannot be disclosed right now. In brief, we try to become more financially self-reliant.
What mistake do you regret in your entrepreneurial journey?
Naively refused to agree to a good deal simply because I thought, at the time, that, due to GSEF’s reputation, we could get an ever better deal. The deal did not go through at the end and GSEF went home empty-handed.
What keeps you going despite such fumbles?
My belief that one day education students, practitioners and policy makers globally would benefit from our works.
Does your venture fulfill a need or fill a gap in the education sphere?
I believe so. There are many student societies here at Cambridge University that have managed to attract high-profile speakers to give talks, but none have been able or bothered to ask for speakers’ consent to record and upload their speaker videos on the website that can be shared by millions of people around the world. We want to take a more ‘inclusive’ approach to how we do things.
What kinds of members regularly use your “forum”?
Currently, most of our members are university students who are passionate in the field of Education and other related fields. There are nearly 1,000 members globally registered on our website, although most of our members are presently Cambridge and Oxford students.
What do you think entrepreneurs lack and should focus on gaining?
Lack of optimism. People often think that it is impossible to start a business or a non-profit organization nowadays owing to the recent financial crisis. I took a different view in 2009 when I launched GSEF. I believed and still do believe that hostile period like 2008 and 2009 is an excellent period for a start-up, as it makes you become smarter about how you spend your capital and how to cut cost, while forcing you to be more innovative on how to raise necessary funding.
Yourstory wishes Natthapoj luck and success with achieving GSEF’s goals and his Ph.D. at Cambridge. We hope to learn more from his entrepreneurial efforts in the education sphere in the days to come.