Edtech scaleup transforming international education


Edtech scaleup transforming international education

After completing Austrade’s Landing Pad program, Edtech scaleup Global Study Partners grew by 500%. And its growth is only getting stronger. 

Australia has one of the world’s highest levels of international students, with more than 500,000 enrolments. Global Study Partners co-founder Elaine Starkey saw firsthand that the process of transitioning to a new country as an international student could be greatly improved, having worked with the international education sector for many years and developed the Australian International Education and Training Guide. 

So in 2014 she co-founded Global Study Partners along with a former international student.

Partnering with student-trusted intermediaries such as international schools, test preparation centres and education agents, Global Study Partners offers an online platform, updated fortnightly, that includes more than 10,000 courses in Australia, Ireland, Canada and Singapore. 

The platform standardises information about courses and institutions around the world, allowing prospective students to research their options in just a few minutes, rather than several hours. Through the platform, students from 13 countries are able to research courses, create shortlists and apply. 

“It empowers students anywhere in the world to study anywhere in world, and it gives them transparency and independent choice,” says Starkey, co-founder and CEO. 

Global Study Partners has experienced strong growth over the past 18 months, in part thanks to support from Austrade’s Landing Pad program. The company started its residency at the Singapore Landing Pad in May 2018. 

As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, Austrade has established five Landing Pads in Berlin, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore and Tel Aviv. Landing Pads support market-ready startups and scaleups to go global. 

Over 90 days, participants are immersed in an environment that helps them accelerate the design and development of their business model. 

A Landing Pad Manager and Austrade sector specialists provide tailored business development assistance throughout the residency.


World-class support

Starkey and the GSP team had a clear vision for what they wanted to achieve during their time in the Landing Pad program. Priorities included exploring new markets and potential partners (schools, English language centres, education agents), signing up institutions in the Southeast Asian region and building relationships with potential investors. 

Global Study Partners’ Vice President International, John McPartland, was based at the Landing Pad while Starkey and other senior staff visited regularly. 

According to Starkey, one of the most valuable aspects of the program was the personalised assistance from Austrade. 

“We got fabulous support,” she says. “Samantha Mark, Singapore Landing Pad Manager, was really hands-on, as was Sharifah Khairunnisa, Austrade Education Manager.”

Global Study Partners benefited from working closely with Austrade’s International Education experts and from introductions to key people, including potential investors and fellow entrepreneurs. 

Starkey attended a networking event for female entrepreneurs at the home of Bruce Gosper, Australian High Commissioner to Singapore.

“That was an eye opener for me,” she says. “It can be quite lonely in an early-stage company as a female CEO, so it was fabulous to have that network and access. And talking to other founders and learning from their experience – that’s really powerful.”

Accelerating global growth

Participating in the Landing Pad program has fast-tracked business growth for Global Study Partners. With support from the Landing Pad, Global Study Partners signed up five new education institutions in Southeast Asia, with more contracts pending. 

The first students started their studies in Singapore institutions, and the business also recruited new students into Australia. All this happened during the 90-day residency. 

“In other markets it’s taken six months or more to get that traction,” says Starkey. 

Global Study Partners now has offices in Vietnam, India (two offices) and Nepal and is planning to open a Singapore office later this year. 

From August 2018 to February 2019, the company grew by around 500% – impressive growth that Starkey says wouldn’t have been as strong without the Landing Pad program. 

“We’ve been able to use the Landing Pad and Austrade endorsement when going into other markets, which is very important,” she says. “I think a lot of startups underestimate the importance and power of having support from government, particularly if they’re going into export markets. It sets you apart from your competitors.” 

Looking ahead, Global Study Partners plans to accelerate its business model, expanding into new education destination markets, including the US, Malaysia and Indonesia, and growing existing markets. 

The business also expects to list on the Australian Securities Exchange within the next 18 months.

“I strongly recommend the Landing Pad program, for growth companies particularly,” says Starkey. “My advice to other businesses considering the program is to have a plan and know what you want out of it. The Landing Pads open doors.”