Carolyne, Can you please tell us a bit about yourself personally and professionally.
I am an authentic, generous and grateful person. I highly value integrity and I oppose mediocrity. I always look for the opportunities to embrace new challenges. I aim high, but I keep my feet on the ground because I know my “Why”. As a woman in a leadership role, I hold responsibility, love, fairness, tolerance and respect as my core values in both my professional and personal relationships. I always strive to follow and realize my dreams and share my knowledge through my experiences of commitment, determination and perseverance.
In 2010, ten (10) years into the position of Director General at Balestra Productions, a television production company, along with Mark Chatel, we started a second Canadian business called (While I Grow Up) WIGUP Corp. In the spring of 2014 I obtained a Master in Business Administration (E.MBA) from McGill University and the Montreal School of Higher Commercial Studies (HEC Montréal). My dissertation was based on a study of business models for social enterprise in Canada which led me to create an innovative model for WIGUP Corp. In 2014, I positioned WIGUP in the international development for education market.
Imagine that you met someone in an elevator and was asked to explain WIGUP Corp. in 30 seconds or less… Can you give us a 2 sentence ‘elevator pitch’ about your business and what you do?
WIGUP.TV is a Creative Social Network for Schools. It was conceived to inspire youth to become who they really are.
WIGUP’s mission is to offer the best online educational content in personal growth and character development geared towards youth between 9 and 14 years of age in order to help them find their voice and mission in life.
How did you get started in this business?
I consider WIGUP more of a Mission in Life than just a business to run. WIGUP began as an idea 20 years ago, by my partner in life and work, my husband, Mark Chatel. We had the opportunity over the years to study and analyse kids from 9 to 14 years old who were the protagonists of the many youth TV series produced by Balestra Productions. Reading books about education and school systems, and hearing the challenges educational professionals face to keep kids motivated at school were all among the many stepping stones leading to the launch of WIGUP.TV, The Creative Social Network for Schools.
Keeping in mind WIGUP’s mission, and convinced of the positive impacts the platform has on the students, I wanted to demonstrate the necessity for researchers in education to scrutinize the practices and philosophy underlying teaching methods used on the WIGUP.TV educational platform. My solution calls for the implementation of many WIGUP research chairs. The first WIGUP research chair in Canada is at the University of Ottawa.
Can you describe your customers / what type of customers does WIGUP Corp. have?
Our customers are students aged 9 to 14, but can skew a bit younger or older depending on the social and economic context. Because it takes a village to educate a child, we have teachers, social workers, researchers and government officials as indirect customers.
What are some of your “keys to success” in building your customer base?
I could talk about Marketing and CRM for the engagement and retention of our customers, but we all know about it. Building a customer base involves directly engaging the customer in our legacy, by sharing the lessons we have learned and testimonials about the how WIGUP.TV is positively changing these kids’ lives.
Is there anything about your business that you feel makes it special?
Knowing that somewhere, somehow there are kids who may have discovered their uniqueness, their talents and mission in life because of our inspiring content on WIGUP.TV is very gratifying. We provide tools that help kids discover who they are, teach them how to become role-models for their classmates, and prepare them to be better citizens in their communities and even the world. Through WIGUP, I also have the privilege of mentoring young entrepreneurs from both the International Trade Council and RISE.
What kind of technology advances do you see that will likely affect this sector over the coming few years?
The advances in technology are only going to benefit our sector as more and more schools adopt an online learning approach. We have an IT Director who loves technology and innovation and always keeps up to date with the latest tends from Silicon Valley.
Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? In the next ten years?
My core mission is to ensure the longevity of the WIGUP.TV educational platform in schools in Canada and abroad. We will continue to focus on creating strategic partnerships in a way that continually advances education and scientific research, ensures results concerning quantitative and qualitative data for the WIGUP.TV platform usage, and validates real-time social transformations experienced by students, schools and communities. WIGUP Corp., has many projects in the pipeline including the implementation of the educational platform in North Africa and China. The business is growing as the educational mindset continues to evolve to address the challenges of teaching in the digital age. WIGUP understands this struggle and will continue to provide answers the questions as to how educational systems can impart the C21 Competencies to their students. We humbly believe that WIGUP is opening the doors to free creativity and self-awareness in each and every child.