"The talent crisis is one of the nation’s most pressing problems... I felt a calling to help"
Rizky Muhammad, an Indonesian Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF) alumnus is the founder of Youthmanual, a career-readiness platform that is transforming Indonesia’s education system by guiding students towards a career that matches their skills, interests and the needs of industry.
We asked him about his business, the problem he is tackling, and the lessons he learned from LIF:
Can you briefly describe your innovation?
Youthmanual is an online, data-driven college and career readiness platform on a mission to help millions of Indonesian students plan for their futures and improve their economic opportunities. We provide the most comprehensive set of online psychometric assessments in Indonesia and tools to help students with their college and career planning.
What gave you the idea to start Youthmanual?
My previous job was in marketing at a telecommunications company. One of my main tasks was to engage the youth market, and I had the opportunity to connect with students on a daily basis. I saw a real need to provide guidance to help them make the most of their future opportunities.
I have always worked with youth, and I’ve been passionate about youth development throughout my career. I felt an inner calling to start doing something to help – and that's how I started Youthmanual.
What problem does Youthmanual overcome?
Every student wants to succeed at college, in their career, and life. However, most don't know where to start or how to get there; Youthmanual overcomes this by helping students find careers that match their interests and will allow them to make the most of their skills.
Youthmanual’s internal data, coming from students’ individual questionnaires and global analytics, provides a lot of evidence for the need for career guidance in Indonesia:
92% of high school graduates don’t know what they want to be or what path to follow once they leave school. They make uninformed decisions based on family or peer influence, rather than on real, scientific data about their personality, interests, strengths and weaknesses;
This results in 45% of college students choosing a major that isn’t right for them;
There's also a mismatch between what industry needs on the one hand, and what students study and the skills they build on the other - 87% of employers felt that recent graduates lack the skills and competencies required in the workplace.
The talent crisis and skills gap is becoming one of the nation’s most pressing problems, threatening Indonesia’s economy and sustainability.
What are the main lessons you have learned through the LIF training?
Getting the fundamental know-how in various aspects of running a business from finance, business modelling, HR, and team building was very important.
Although a lot of the training covered things I’ve learned on the fly during my entrepreneurship journey, LIF's structured programme of group sessions and access to coaches, experts and fellow entrepreneurs provided a different perspective on building and growing our business.
Everyone was very resourceful and the programme has provided a boost of confidence for us to learn and acquire skills that we have never had the opportunity to do before.
What impact has LIF had on your business?
Having a coach who provides hands-on support in reviewing and analysing our business model and providing feedback has been key. It has made me rethink and create a more focused strategy and business narrative. That in turn has helped us secure partners and funding, which we are now in the process of finalising.
On a commercial level, we have secured contracts with seven universities as well as various consultancy projects for corporates looking to optimise their recruitment offer for high school and university graduates.
What stage are you at now?
We’ve launched a few phases of our product and are at an early commercial stage. We have very strong traction and have acquired over 1.1 million users on our platform since our beta launch in 2016, selling directly to customers and B2B.
Students pay a one-time fee of approximately £4 (IDR 79,000), followed by an annual subscription fee of £1.50. Schools can also use our platform on a yearly subscription, which gives all their students access. We provide dashboard analytics allowing school administrators to view student assessment profiles and results.
What tips for success would you give to other innovators?
My top tips are:
Building products and innovating is difficult and takes much longer than you expect.
Focus intently on your problem, be obsessed with your customers and test and reiterate continually and quickly.
You need to know where the money is and have a clear plan to monetise.
What’s next for Youthmanual?
We’re working with different stakeholders, including the government of Indonesia, to create a nationwide education and talent development platform to improve work readiness and school-to-work transition. The pilot project is now underway with 50 schools, increasing to 200 later this year, with the aim of rolling it out to 13,000 schools next year.
For the first time in Indonesia, through Youthmanual’s platform, we’re capturing a huge set of data that provides a snapshot of students’ psychological metrics (cognitive abilities, personality, interest, learning style), academic performance and aspirations. This data has allowed us to work with the government and help them reform the curriculum and education policy.
Finally, we are in discussions about a joint venture with the Malaysian government to develop a Malaysian variant of the platform.
We will continue to build our product to achieve our vision.
Learn more at Youthmanual.com