Upward Mobility was formed to create high quality management education and test preparation material that is witty, engaging and adds value in the learning process. We will deliver this content via innovative mediums. Our goal is to create the premier product for any channel that we address in terms of educational quality and usability.
Upward Mobility has two key social goals. Both are geared towards creating upward social mobility in developing countries. It is well known that access to education creates upward social mobility.
Train developing world managers: Knowledgeable managers are one of the greatest needs in emerging economies. The majority of middle managers in these nations receive little training to improve their skills. A share of Upward Mobility’s profits and energy will go towards making high quality management education available in the developing world. Managers who create value improve businesses and generate jobs, making an impact at all levels of the social pyramid.
The founders have traveled in a business context to many different parts of the world such as Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Latin America and China where this is the case. Poor risk management and the lack of trustworthy managers leads to corruption and high cost of capital. Our commitment is that we will do our best to change this paradigm.
Improve access to education: Education is one of the greatest levers to social mobility in poor societies. By developing the highest quality material and delivering it via innovative mediums, Upward Mobility will provide access to educational content that will inspire learners in emerging economies.
A Message from Upward Mobility Co-Founder Ted Chan
My parents came from China in 1973 with $300. I was fortunate that they were willing to work 14 hour days, 7 days a week. They worked even harder and sacrificed even more so that I could go to a good public high school. When I got to into Swarthmore, they broke their nest egg so I could go. I am where I am because of what my parents sacrificed. Core to their values was that education would be central to our family rising in status, an important principle in Chinese culture.
In 2007, I was accepted to the MIT Sloan School of Management. I entered MIT focused on business, but what I learned from MIT was that technology can create better opportunities for people around the world. I met an African professor who had taught himself to read through a traveling library. Where education is available, people will grab ahold of it and improve their walk in life. When I traveled to developing countries as part of my MIT experience and Jhonatan Rotberg's NextLab Program, I saw the ubiquity of cell phones, and the opportunity to offer access to education through mobile mediums.
At the same time, my partner, Victoria Slingerland, convinced me that we could help developing nations through helping middle managers. In her career as an analyst in financial services, she had observed that the companies that succeed there are able to source and/or develop quality middle managers. When she pointed it out, I realized that this was a problem in many organizations I had worked with in the developing world. The lack of quality project managers, skilled IT professionals and other middle of the pyramid workers made creating effective, efficient organizations difficult. Talented middle managers create a ton of economic value, and make the lives of those who work under them better by driving growth with their management skill. We decided to target these people in our social goals.
But how to do it? Education on your standard phone is tough and difficult to scale. It's hard to learn via SMS. I had a notion that it might be 2030 before we saw smartphones in the developing world. But there I was in the Philippines, watching 3 people on the street corner use iPhones, and a taxi driver with a Blackberry. In Tanzania, a factory owner showed off his souped up Windows Mobile phone. And then, Google announced Android, signalling the availability of quality open-source software to lower the cost of smart phones.
Victoria and I decided Upward Mobility would be built on smart phone platforms. We would make software and create content that anyone, anywhere would want to use, and then we would figure out how to modify it to be used in emerging economies. We're translating our best-selling project management app, PMConcepts, into Spanish. We'll translate it into Swahili if Android phones start showing up in Tanzania and Uguanda.
I know we'll be a drop in the ocean in terms of moving the needle in some of these places. But I also know if we can make just a few managers better, or a couple students more passionate about chemistry, it will mean something.
Founder and CEO of Upward Mobility