As one of the top 10 projects on Google Impact Challenge, TalkingPoints, a one-man venture established by a Korean CEO Hee Jae Lim, competed against other firms for votes to win the challenge. Through the Google Impact Challenge with 800 firms competing, $5 million grant has been given out to Bay Area nonprofits. If selected as Google Impact Challenge top projects, the firms would get an opportunity to work with Google’s resources to further drive the firm to the next stage in addition to grants.
TalkingPoints is a mobile texting platform that doesn’t require internet nor smartphones to help teachers and parents whose second language is English meaningfully connect across language barriers. TalkingPoints’ CEO Lim personally observed multiple accounts of Korean parents who were unable to completely understand school’s newsletter and thus resulted in limited involvements in their children’s education, especially for low-income immigrant families. Based on this first-hand experience, Lim founded TalkingPoints.
Below is an interview with CEO Lim.
Could you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Hee Jae Lim and I’m the CEO of TalkingPoints. I have previously worked at McKinsey Consulting London Office and received MBA from Stanford University this year. Last year at Startup Weekend Education in Oakland, the idea of TalkingPoints has been first introduced. I continued to work on the project while attending school and consequently I have been chosen as Echoing Green fellows from Echoing Green, a global growth private equity firm, and Social Innovation Fellows from Stanford. With the grants received from the fellowships, I founded TalkingPoints.
What is TalkingPoints?
TalkingPoints is a non-profit venture that was found in July this year to help facilitate communication between teachers and parents from immigrant families. It provides a convenient translation system using texting platform that doesn’t require internet nor smartphones. TalkingPoints as an efficient communication platform surpassing language barriers would serve as a stepping stone for successful public education and social integration of students from language minority families. Currently, we mainly provide service to California, but we plan to expand this network to more than a million families in the U.S. and beyond to other countries as well.
How did you come up with the idea of this service?
Moving to UK in 3rd grade, I saw many cases in which even Korean parents with high education fever experienced communication problems with teachers due to cultural or language barriers. As I realized that there are more parents who experience similar problems in public schools in East Palo Alto area, a low-income region near Stanford, I decided to establish TalkingPoints in California where approximately 100 languages are being used.
Could you talk more on TalkingPoints’ present status?
Having launched beta service in late August this year, 1200 people are receiving the benefits of TalkingPoints. Currently, we support English along with 7 other languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, etc.
TalkingPoints is currently on top 10 for Google Impact Challenge. How can we help?
Top four companies will each receive $500,000 grant and the remaining six will each receive a $250,000 grant. More than 800 companies applied for this challenge and we are fortunately in top 10. But since TalkingPoints is operated by myself, we find ourselves in a tough position to compete against other experienced, large-scale organizations. Please consider casting your vote for us on Google Impact Challenge website by October 20th.
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