Interview with George Hernandez
Not only does Sofiri
offer an easily accessible space for aspiring international students and education experts, or counsellors, to connect - it also provides 100% transparency.
Founded in January of 2016 and based in Australia, Sofiri connects aspiring students with people who are experts on the educational opportunities available across the globe.
Whether it's a university, vocational, or English course that marks the beginning of each aspiring student journey, Sofiri is trusted to help young people achieve their goals. With a world-class platform and small and growing community of users, Sofiri is the easiest way for people to have access to all of the information they need to make one of the most important decisions in their lives.
Hi George! Could you please introduce Sofiri and what led to your founding the company back in 2016?
Hi my name is George and I'm the founder of Sofiri. Sofiri was born to challenge international student recruitment industry, in particular the source responsible for recruiting demos of students which is what we call the agent channel. That network is made of brick and mortar brokers scattered over multiple cities and countries. We are a shared economy. Peer to peer platform connecting future international students with independently operated individuals, counseling and assisting the students in University or College. We call these guys Education Experts. What motivated me to find Sofiri was the idea of being able to provide prospective students with much better service in such a critical stage of their lives. To go from being allocated a counselor at an agency or by road traffic to get there for them to choose themselves the best counselor, possible based on variables like distance, language or profession.
How did you build the networks and partnerships that make Sofiri the successful company it is today?
After seven years in this industry I had a good network to start with. We also hired some people with lots of industry experience in some cases going over a decade. A staff member came with excellent networks. Separately, we've been using Linkedin as a way to recruit international education experts. This channel has been influential at spreading the word within the industry. We're coming to Universities with our proposition and it's very different to what they have seen before. They also know a change in its industry is long overdue.
What are some of the main challenges faced by students exploring academic opportunities?
Excessive information. Cumbersome and different process by each education provider. Bias from agents. Rising costs. Even countries closing their doors to many international students like what's happening in the US right now. I think we have a role regarding matching students with a counselor that fits their purpose and they can provide tailor advice and assistance.
What's next for your work with Sofiri? Where do you see the company in five years?
We want to continue optimizing the experience of students and education experts using our application. We're just about to launch a bot within our web app for students to feel more comfortable registering with us. We need to launch our IOS app early 2019. Also a Chinese version of Sofiri is in progress. That means a whole different ecosystem. Ultimately in a matter of five years, we want Sofiri to be a place assisting, successfully, international students intending to go to most international education destinations including many countries in the Americas, Europe or Asia. We want to see your happiness. We're making many languages capable- making users' life as simple as possible and prospective students being able to choose from thousands of education experts.
What was it like transitioning from your work at HECG to founding your own company? How is your life different now?
The transition was all right. I was doing heaps of directing work before. However, I now responsible for a lot more from investors and employees that I need to make sure are motivated and happy. I am managing teams- working in different time zones. Now I have a single goal, and I eat Sofiri for breakfast lunch and dinner as opposed to what I was doing before which is working with different universities and organizations in multiple countries. Just one now.