“You would never become part of a community unless you get fully immersed culturally, even if you are living in the same neighborhood,” says Sophie Su, an Australian-born Chinese entrepreneur.
Su has been torn between her Australian identity and Chinese heritage since she was a little kid. “It feels like to live in two separate worlds and it is a bit lonely when neither of the two societies consider you a true member of their group.”
Triggered by her own personal experience, Sophie created an app dubbed ‘Pingo Space.’ It does’t matter whether you are migrants, overseas students, or expats working in another country, as long as you have the motivation to jump in, leave the rest to Pingo Space, she says.
Pingo Space, originates from the app’s Chinese name 平行国 which means parallel worlds, is an online education and networking platform that connects locals to expats through in-person experiences, creating interactions that would have never existed otherwise.
The Beijing-based startup has developed two separate apps for different clients, one specifically tailored to the Chinese client and the other to fit the needs of the expats or foreign coaches.
Through the Chinese App, local clients who want to know the rest of the world better can select from a variety of skillsets offered by foreign expats, ranging from language exchange to Italian cooking, foreign languages, playing guitar and jiu-jitsu. Customers can write reviews on the training they have received from a certain expat associate.
In addition to individual users, the company’s CEO and co-founder Wen Yunkai, believes Pingo Space’s service will also bring values for enterprise clients. “Through Pingo Space, companies and e-commerce retailors with a global expansion plan can know their overseas customers better.”
With the expat app, expats create their own brand with Pingo Space, personally designing their offerings and setting their schedule, service location and price with immediate payment via WeChat Wallet.
The platform requires all expat associates to register with real names and a TEFL (Teaching English as A Foreign Language) curriculum is provided to improve the training quality for those who have never been teachers before. Beyond that, there’s no restrictions on particular format or lesson plan, expat teachers can craft their dream experiences by themselves.
Weng says that the courses are taken offline for the current version of the app, while course appointment, payment and reviews are completed online. The startup now only provides service in Beijing, but it expects to expand to Shanghai and Guangzhou in the next six months.
Pingo Space is not the first startup eyeing the language and skill sharing market. Similar services include Zaihang, a project backed by science networking service Guokr, and Shanghai-based peer skill-sharing platform Skillbank.
Founded in 2014, Pingo Space’s core team is made up of both foreigners and Chinese nationals passionate about cultural exchange. Su has eight years of experience in education management. Her partner and husband Weng Yunkai is a seasoned entrepreneur as the CEO and founder of English teaching service Elite Learning.
Pingo Space is winner of The Best Educational Products and Services of 2016 at our ChinaBang Awards this year.
Image credit: Pingo Space