rll-2013-seated-photo-with-macQ1: When you founded Ahead Tutorial, what made you decide to focus on students doing well than students having flunking grades?

At the time I started AHEAD, there was a negative perception attached to tutorials, which were mostly done at the students’ or tutors’ homes. Most people saw tutoring as a last resort for students who were failing or in danger of failing in school. That’s why a lot of kids would be ashamed to admit they had a tutor.

From the very start, I wanted to make a difference. I wanted students to enjoy learning and to be happy to study with their tutors. I wanted to make tutorials something they’d look forward to and not dread. I was also inspired by my first students who were actually doing quite well in school but whose parents recognized they needed professional support to maintain their academic performance. With these in mind, we came up with collaterals that featured our best-performing students. We used taglines like: She’s smart. She’s pretty. She’s with AHEAD; Be with the Best; and Happy to Be Ahead.

By focusing on achievers, we were able to change people’s mindsets and make them realize that tutorial and review services are for those who want to be (pardon the pun) ahead. With our focus on achievers, attending tutorials gained a new status. Tutorials and enrichment programs have become popular among high achievers who want to stay on top and compete in local and international academic contests. On the other hand, average and low-performing students are now proud to attend tutorials because they are in the company of excelling students. No matter what the students’ current academic standing is, they’re motivated do better and be their best.

Q2: You recently launched a premium review program for the college entrance tests of UP, Ateneo and La Salle (Top 3 schools of the Philippines); can you share with us the key differences between your current program and your new, premium program?

Regular Premium
Test-based Test-based
From 36-84 hrs (depending on program) 124 hrs ++Intensive & most complete review program of Ahead
Average of 35 per class Small class size (up to 20)
Top 1%, honor graduates, doctors, lawyers, board topnotchers
coming from UP, Ateneo, and De La Salle
Top lecturers of AHEAD (best of the screened lecturers)
No money-back guarantee Money-back guarantee if the student does not pass at least 1 of the top 3 universities
No free tutorials; may sign up (for a fee) for enrichment or
simulated test discussions
Free tutorials for subjects with less than 50% score in the Simulated Test
More stringent requirements on student and parent participation:-No tardiness or absences-Active participation in class-Diagnostic Test score must be at least -40% overall, with no individual subject score less than 40%-Parents must attend the free Parents Seminar
Regular rate for the Package Review is Php19,499, those who
enrolled as early as June 2013 gets it for only Php10,499.
Last March 2014, the price of the package rate was Php17,249. Group discounts available.
Price at P39,999

Q3: Can you share your process in formulating the product and prices of your regular review vs. your new premium review?

It was actually you who gave me the inspiration to offer a premium package with a money-back guarantee, although I have been considering a value-added service like this for some time now. I brought up the concept with my team and we assessed how we thought our students would really benefit. We identified the services and strategies we could include in the program. Then we studied price options, which we thought our clients would accept given the many advantages of the program. I also broached the idea to some of my associates who represented our Class A market and it was well received.

Q4: Ahead Tutorial is the first to offer a money back warranty for review? This is great news for parents, what have you done internally to ensure you won’t end up losing money?

We’re the first in the college entrance tests review industry to offer such a program. We’re really beefing up the program, further enhancing our materials, and screening our lecturers very closely to ensure that everyone who will enroll in our Premium Package will be admitted to at least one of the top 3 universities. We’ve also set entry-level standards that help make sure we work with students who have good chances of passing the actual college entrance exams.

Of course, our desire to get students into their dream universities comes over and above the concern of losing money. If we do lose money during this first run, we’d rather lose it giving our students free tutorials and additional sessions to boost their success than giving back their parents’ money.

Q5: Being in educational business, don’t you feel pressured your own children need to excel? What do you do to ensure they grow up well rounded?

I think that my kids should strive for excellence, not just in school but also in every aspect of their lives. And I mean excellence not just as others may see it, or as how the world may measure it, but excellence as it defines our lives–our work, our relationships with people, how we see ourselves, who we are. It doesn’t matter if we run an educational company or not. They know that I want them to excel mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially but I don’t pressure them that they become unhappy. I also want them to play and have fun. (My son got accepted in Ateneo’s Management Engineering but I asked him to move to another course even before he started because as I told him, he also needs to attend parties, which he did- he attended at least 10 parties within his first year in Ateneo. For my very shy, introverted son, this is an achievement.)

It isn’t just about academics for them, and it isn’t just about business for me. The well being of my children is more important than what people might think about them. Luckily, they are the type of kids that every parent can be proud of. They are well rounded, and they have good hearts.

Additionally, I constantly remind them not to feel any pressure in terms of taking over Ahead in the future. However, they also want to help the country through free and quality education, and they want to do so through Ahead.