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talentify: Building our future - for students by students

AustriaVienna, Austria
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

talentify brings together young people providing unique education and career programs to maximize their opportunities in life and make them a role model for younger peers from less privileged and undereducated communities by encouraging students to help each other giving peer-to-peer tutoring.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

individual talents of our children are nurtured by helping them fulfill their full potential, regardless of their socio-economic background
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Education is still inherited, which means that your chances in life are heavily depended on the social and financial background of your parents. Furthermore exists an increasing gap between what skills you need in your life in the 21st century vs. what you learn at schools right now. This includes creativity, social skills, collaboration, etc. Unfortunately children do not get the know-how and tools to face their future and challenges ahead.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

It is important to educate our children's whole being and give them all the skills they need in life to face future challenges, regardless of their social and financial background. Therefore we provide unique education and career programs (extracurricular workshops, mentoring, etc.) to high-school students in the age of 14 to 18 to maximize their opportunities in life and make them a role model for younger peers in the age of 6 to 13 from less privileged and undereducated communities at the same time. By bringing together these young people and encourage them to help each other giving peer-to-peer tutoring they strengthen their social skills and sense of responsibility and provide an alternative to existing, expensive tutoring offers.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

During our pilot we got an e-mail with "emergency" in the subject line. A former teacher of an elementary school student named Mia sent us an e-mail that she can't help her learn for an important math exam, because she is sick. The family from Mia can't afford extracurricular tutoring and she was doing it for free. So I meet Rebecca in one of our talentify academy workshops, she is a very motivated high-school student at the age of 16. She immediately offered to help out and learn with Mia for her math exam. After a couple of sessions Mia got an A in the exam and Rebecca will also help her through the next school year. In the end both students benefit, Mia got great help and Rebecca strengthened her social skills and did something good.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Until now we were "just" in a first pilot phase testing our concept with all stakeholders. We had around 50 high-school students in six workshops (with partners) and ten of them were giving tutoring lessons to younger peers during the last three months. Some of these tutoring lessons were even for free, around 50% cost only one quarter of the market price - the students decide how much it is! All of the younger students managed it positively through the school year. Furthermore we managed to fix a cooperation with IBM, they are offering ten mentors through their CSR program to work for one year with one of our talentify academy students. Also SAP joined our program offering Design Thinking and Creativity workshops beginning next fall. By offering those unique workshops we managed to motivate and empower young people to help their younger peers through capacity building.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Right now just 4% of all tutoring lessons are held by students themselves. We want to raise that number in the next three years to 10%. Tutoring lessons are very expensive (about 30 Euro per hour) and more and more families can't afford them. So we also want to drop those costs by offering an alternative. Our midterm goal (2016) is to reach about 40.000 students in the whole country, which represents around 3.5% of all students in Austria. By market talentify, offer incentive systems for students and use existing networks. Long term goal is to lower drop-out rates and increase social mobility.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We started the project with some private money and got financial support from local government. Until the end of 2015 we want to build a business model around these three areas: (1) freemium model with free basic membership and premium features (around 50 euro p.a.), (2) business packages around employer branding, recruiting and consulting with and for all our talents and (3) public/private funding through grants, crowd funding and fundraising.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are tutoring companies who account for 35% of the market and are very, very expensive (over 30 Euro per hours in average). More than half (55%) of all tutoring lessons are currently given by teachers who are earning some extra money outside of school (about 20 Euro per hour in average). 4% are already given by students and the others are family given or new online offers. Households spent 109 Mio. Euro in extracurricular tutoring per year in Austria. There are some grass-root initiatives trying to have an impact on the education system, but they are potential partners, not competitors.

Founding Story

Over ten years ago when I was still at high-school we already founded a so-called "Junior Company" with a very similar objective. It went really well and we had some great feedback from all stakeholders. After successful one and a half years we graduated and the school was not able to keep the project alive. In the beginning of 2014 I listened to a panel discussion (incl. Ashoka) at the AAIA conference in Vienna about social entrepreneurship. It was the tipping point and reminded me of the great potential this idea has and that I have to start to do something meaningful again. Afterwards we applied for a social impact start stipend (from SAP), pitched our idea, won and developed talentify to the extend we are right now.


Right now we have a core team consisting of 3 people with experience in marketing, public relations, education (teacher), software development and leadership. Two of them full-time and one part-time. Additionally we have a team of external supporters: graphic designer, developers and an inbound-marketing agency as well as an advisory board consisting of one BCG consultant, a school principal, a financial expert and the CEO of WIFI Tirol.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, Vienna

Country where this project is creating social impact
What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Businesses, Regional government.


Social Impact Start Stipend by SAP
Graduated Investment Ready Academy 2014
Short-listed for the European Youth Award 2014

Primary Target Age Group

6 - 12, 13 - 17.

Your role in Education


Please specify which of the following best applies:

I am applying on behalf of a particular program or initiative.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with (if applicable)

Intervention Focus

Extracurricular, Professional Development, Community, Online Learning.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Putting Children in Charge: Giving children a voice and cultivating agency via experiential learning, project-based learning, and civic engagement.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

One size fits all fits none: Students are disengaged and not being prepared for "real life."


Impact modeling and measurement as well as impact financing


Marketing strategy, growth hacking and agile software development

What key learning outcomes does your work seek to improve?
Secondary Form
PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details

We are providing extracurricular workshops and events and offer a matchmaking service for peer-to-peer tutoring between students. Currently we are active direct at schools and out of schools. Starting this fall we will have about 1-2 workshops per week, spending more than 6 hours per week in direct contact with students. Our workshop services are delivered by trusted partners and the peer-to-peer tutoring itself is delivered by students (age 14 to 19) themselves. To support those processes we are offering an online platform including incentive systems motivating students to do "good things".

INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.

In the last years there was a lot of research done in the field of neuroscience and how it effects learning. Those findings offer profound scientific evidence to help understand where to go. Prominent ambassadors for an innovative education like Ken Robinson, André Stern, Gerald Hüther, Johannes Lindner and many more are getting a lot of attention. The amount of projects and initiatives also show that there are a lot of people caring about the future of our children. Also young people (millennials) show a lot of concern and motivation to change things. We are proud to be part of this movement!

LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?

Play means fun and joy, it has a strong positiv connotation. We know also from scientific findings that joy is one of the most important things when it comes to learning. Therefore it is a necissarity to implement a more playful way to reach our children. To make learning fun again, something to enjoy and play with. That's why we implemented gamification components right into the core of our online platform. To rise the level of talent, students collect bonus points for every interaction (tutoring, attending events,...) - reaching several different levels. With each level unlocking new offers.

SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.

As it is right now, we invested own resources: 30%, were able to partner and get pro bono work from specialists: 20% and got an initial public grant that helped a lot: 50%. In the near future we plan to extend our funding (public/private grants, investments) and build our business model.

MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?

We see ourself as hybrid. Building a business model around students/kids is a challenge, we will engage with a freemium/premium model. But this will just cover around 30%-40% of the costs in the future. For the rest we focus on the corporate world building WIN-WINs: employer branding, job/internship matchmaking and services/consulting, talent management for companies (how to become an attractive company for millennials and how to keep them).

FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?

We would use this money to further enhance our online platform and extend our activities at schools to attract and motivate more and more students to join our cause. We would most definitely invest in our core!

PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.

We are working together with Teach for Austria, local and country-wide students representations and selected schools through our partner school program. Additionally we are starting to work with extracurricular institutions like youth red cross, caritas and others.

COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.

We already gained a partner with knowledge rooms by joining the Science Center Network in Austria. Furthermore we had a very interesting talk with kiddify and had the chance to get to know some really interesting projects we would love to get to know better and even start a cooperation.

VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?

We would have significantly increased social mobility in the school system, which means that the socio-economic background of a student is no longer the main factor in educational success. Also we would have positioned peer-to-peer aspects and concepts as a very important aspect of learning, which also means to increase play and bringing joy back to learning. A strong network and movement through society builds the future - together.

IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time

- # of students from privileged families tutoring students from less-priviliged families (strengthening social cohesion)
- # of students from parents with no or less education background graduating with a high-school degree (increasing social mobility)
- Reducing # of school drop-outs and young adults with no degree
- # of students that find a meaningful live working or creating their own ways by using their talents and full potential

IMPACT - REPORTING SAMPLE: Please attach any examples of your impact reporting. [optional]:
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE: Please link or attach any research or evidence resource you are open to sharing more widely [optional]. Building research and evidence is a key aim of this initiative, and the resources you share may be chosen for listing in the Center for Education Innovations library:
SOURCE: If applicable - who created the research or evidence you are choosing to share? :
IMPACT - REACH: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

0 to 500

STUDY: Has an external evaluation or study been conducted of your organization?


Other (please specify)
Number of Employees:

Fewer than 10

Number of Volunteers:


APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.

Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Providing a Range of Opportunities (providing the equipment and materials needed for various types of play), Educational Structuring (developing playful projects within educational contexts).

Other (please specify)
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.


Wow, this is a great approach! I guess I would have loved to have peer to peer tutoring instead of the "old wise men" I always had :D
I wish you great fun on your way and hope we will meet sometime in Austria or Germany! Warm regards from Dresden, Alex

A most fantastic project with a great vision addressing a serious need!

Bernhard Hofer's picture

Hi Alex! Wow, thanks a lot for your feedback. That's great! Would love to meet sometimes here in Vienna or in Dresden! All the best, Bernhard