Interview with Aape Pohjavirta
Founder & Chief Evangelist @ Funzi

Funzi delivers verified scalable, and replicable learning outcomes. Our partners include UN organizations, Facebook, and Google, and we serve customers from public, private, and NGO sectors.
Hi Aape! When did you first realize the potential for mobile learning and training within NGO's and INGO's? How did you establish initial partnerships with UN offices?
We founders of Funzi have been working in the mobile space for quite some time. I personally have been working with mobile learning since 2009. So, we knew already before founding the company five years ago. We knew that there is a great need among all different kinds of organizations to use mobile as a scaling method, and mechanism, to reach out to individuals, and communities that don't have access to traditional education learning methods. So, this has been an ongoing process for quite some time. Coming from Finland, while some of us founders, we've been involved, deeply involved in the creation of mobile technology, and we've seen the power of mobile, what it can do to hold industries, music, games, all those things have been dramatically transformed by the power of mobile, and the whole idea behind Fonzie was to take the understanding of what mobile and mobility can do to whole industries, and use that power of mobile to transform the way we humans learn. Give everyone who has a mobile device, a connected device, access to quality learning at no cost to the end user, using the Internet and mobile Internet as the greatest equalizer that has ever been out there. To give everyone a chance, to get access to those skills that they need to build their dreams.
How is new content for Funzi developed? For example, what was the process for developing the platform's "Civil Society" curriculum?
Funzi, we are a learning service, we're a mobile learning service like Spotify is a service for streaming music. We are a service to deliver mobile optimized, learning content that actually, delivers on the promise of creating learning outcomes. That means that we're not a content company. We have created over the years, and in those millions with the data from the millions of learning transactions, we have created the pedagogy that actually works across all types of content. So, the process of producing content for the Funzy courses is such that we take content from existing content from our partners or our customers or, and apply our understanding, the pedagogy of how we humans learn on mobile devices. That has been tested and validated by our internal measurement system, both quantitative and qualitative but also, by actually, research of the learning outcomes. So, we apply the pedagogy, and after the pedagogy has been applied, we push it onto the cloud and deliver it from our own technology framework, so that it works on any connected device on the planet. What this pedagogy means is that we have created a mechanism that has taken a lot of learnings from leading games companies in the world. Also, the latest learning theory is that we know that will work, and practical implementation of Funzy across all kinds of projects, across all continents, over the past few years. So, this system actually is a co-creation with our partners and content owners.
How is Funzi defining the way in which companies train new staff? What has been the feedback from clients and customers utilizing Funzi for their businesses?
How. This is a good question. Now look, the biggest challenge when we talk with large corporates, are actually any larger organization. There is a block in the minds of the decision makers, the block is built on the assumption that training and education can only happen to small groups of individuals. So, that's the main challenge, with fluency we could deliver, and can deliver training to thousands, tens of thousands, millions, hundreds of millions of individuals. So, the biggest challenge is how do we enable, empower our customers and partners to think differently, to actually broaden their view, to dare to think on a massive scale. The feedback is awesome, the feedback is both, from users we don't know, that is users who are organically coming to our service, but also the users who use our service as employees of organizations or partner organizations. The feedback is phenomenal. Everybody loves it. Everybody learns with it. Why it hasn't scaled. It's not us, It's actually the decision makers in our partner organizations who would need to dare, think bigger. Think big, It's actually quite a task for a manager, for a guy, for a person who is measured by using all kind of measurement mechanisms. Dare to think big, that's our challenge.
How was Funzi implemented by UNDP Syria?
As we all know, Syria is a is a country that is in shambles. So, communicating, and then training individuals, especially outside your own organization is very complicated due to different reasons. UNDP in Syria works with many nongovernmental organizations, and they use Funzy to optimize the processes of their collaboration with their existing partners. So what that means is, in a location such as Syria, getting someone from to a training location is both, costly and dangerous, and they don't want to do that. So, they're using Funzy to change, or enable more effective training at a very, very much lower cost point. So, that's what UNDP does in Syria. Now, the next groups, the next courses in Syria are going to be addressing a larger beneficiary groups, so let's see how that works, but we're excited about working with with with the U.N. system, and we really love having had the opportunity to work with UNDP in Syria, because that's probably one of the most complex and complicated areas, both technically, but also socially economically, and due to the political situation we're really happy with the results that we're seeing, and the feedback has been phenomenal. So, you know, if this thing works in Syria, then it works pretty much everywhere.
What's next for your work with Funzi? What are the main projects, partnerships and educational programs you'll be focusing on throughout the next year?
What´s up for Funzi over the next 12 months! Well, our business model, you know something that produces revenue, so that a startup can exist. We've been producing revenues with a business to business to consumer business model, that means that, in order to provide end users with the services, and produce revenue for our company we have had, we've found partners who share the interest in teaching that population and they have been financing the provisioning of that learning. We have all the components that are required to go directly into the business to consumer. So, a direct B to C approach, but there are, you know, that's something that we're looking at, but other than that, there you need to have a content library so, we're looking for partner and partners who have existing content that could be Funzyfide. We're looking at distribution partners who would enable us to access users, we're looking at commercialization partners, Ad libraries, you know, sponsors who would share our passion and interest in teaching people to learn, live better lives. The other thing is that it on a B2B to C side, on our classic approach, we are scaling. So we're looking at new customers, new partners, new mechanisms of going into revenues and going into production. So that's the ongoing, and then looking at how could we organize, best organize both, a new possible B to C and then the existing B2B to C market. So, that's what's up for us. We are almost to become scale up. So, becoming cash flow positive, but that also simultaneously means that we need to look for growth funding. Thank you.