Waffle; an idea for defeating disability
Waffle means virtual foreign language institution in English and big and supreme in Persian. In this website, translation service, inline learning and learning through SMS, were the main parts.
People are divided into two groups; those who surrender to problems and those who fight with problems and spend their energy on solving them instead of sorrow.
Saeid Zaroori, handicapped person is placed in the second group who didn’t give up because of his restrictions for movement and in fact his disability has caused him to come to creative ideas for defeating problems.
Saeid has M.A. in English Language and has launched a virtual language institution named “Waffle”.
He is now a disabled entrepreneur who could attract thousands of customers and offer virtual language teaching for all disabled and abled people. Here is an interview with this young entrepreneur.
Why had the idea of launching a virtual institution of foreign language come to your mind?
It was 1385 that I was accepted in English Language but whenever I looked at stairways of the university, I thought about how to go up the stairs for four years.
I thought about the job I would do after graduation. During the first semester, I always looked for help to go up the stairs and thought how to defeat this problem and I wanted to find a way so that stairs wouldn’t be a barrier to my progress after graduation.
In the past I didn’t attend any English classes but I was accepted in the university because I didn’t find any English institution that didn’t have stairs.
All these sweet and bitter experiences caused to launch a weblog to publish the content related to my major in virtual space. This encouraged me to study more and was useful for other students.
This raw idea was helpful and I could maintain my connection with virtual space along with content production and I got familiar to this environment more and more.
I became more active each day and felt more powerful in my studies. In the third semester, I found out that I became the top student with the average grade of 17.
This showed me that I could defeat my weaknesses and conquest virtual space.
Why did you decide to turn a simple educational weblog to a virtual foreign language institution?
The high cost of transportation to/from the university, the nightmare I had about stairs and the statistics of visits which was 300 to 400 people per day, had caused me to focus on having a virtual institution more than before.
I studied a lot about this and got advice. Unfortunately, I had to pay a large amount of money in all the possible ways and I couldn’t afford it.
But the image of those days in which I hoped to learn language and came to institution and faced with many stairs, was the main reason I tried to find a way for virtual education and making money through Internet.
How did you make money from this raw idea?
With increase of internet bandwidth, I started language teaching through free content production in Yahoo Group, one of the associations for the disabled, which was welcomed.
Prepared content was sent through a newsletter in certain days and members could download it. This also encouraged me.
With the experience of indirect virtual education through educational content production and period sending of it to members whose number reached 900 people and receiving positive feedback, I was encouraged to focus more and create a chat room in Yahoo and teach a book directly to the members.
The first teaching experience was very exciting because it was done by audio files. After that I promoted to find online students and this led to limited income which was sweet.
Then I had students from different parts of Iran and even Iranians outside Iran and thus I focused more on launching a website and a framework for my virtual institution and learned it with difficulty.
It was hard and complex and there were a few people who could guide me in this field in 1387.
Did academic learning and academic people help?
When I graduated from university, everything was ready for launching my first website. During these four years, a weblog lots of educational content for students of English Language with high number of local visits for advertising my virtual institution has become ready.
I translated many content for free for disabled associations and my own weblog to get experience. During these years, I talked with many people who couldn’t go to language institutions because lack of facilities required for the disabled in the city.
My classmates who had helped me to go up and down the stairs during four years of my study, worked in this website and I could even offer my classmate who helped me in the first days of my study, to cooperate with me and then he became an active translator with relatively good income.
How much was your initial capital for launching Waffle?
Various parts were designed for this website so that many people could act in this field with providing different services in the field of foreign language. Waffle was launched with many problems, with only 25,000 toman in Esfand 1389.
Waffle means virtual foreign language institution in English and big and supreme in Persian. In this website, translation service, inline learning and learning through SMS, were the main parts and in 11 Ordibehesh 1390 it started officially.
Target community in this website was disabled and abled people. After one year, website found its customers and with increased advertisement and high quality of translations and online learning, more people were attracted to this website and received their required service.
How did you introduce Waffle to your customers?
Disabled and abled people got to know the services of this website through different ways and it took a long time to improve translators’ group, advertisement increase, managing translations and teachers and all these things finally led to knowing website.
After that we tried so hard to find disabled translators so that they can be employed. The goal followed so hard so that disabled people have a way to earn the living and use their expertise.
Thus this website could create job for the disabled?
Yes, those disabled people who can’t go to language institutions would use English language learning in this site.
Also I’m glad for the disabled people who want to and have enough motivation that there is a way to change their lives at very low cost.
Contrary to some business owners, when payment bill is received through Electronic post from my colleagues, I become excited and pay to them as soon as possible.
This website could supply my cost of living since 1390 until now and could experience exciting activities and adventures in spite of my disability.
Free fall from a plane with the height of 4000 meters, diving, flying with different ultra-light birds, skiing, swing and etc. were part of these adventures.
Right now this website offers unofficial translation service (six languages) to different companies and people and thus five disabled people, 10 abled translators and 20 freelance translators when there are many works to do.
What is your next step for developing this virtual institution? Where does Waffle reach to at the end?
My goal is to reach the number of these people to 50 persons and I have plans for receiving more orders.
Now I’m planning for teaching disabled translators who don’t have necessary ability to find a job and they need to promote their translation skill.
How can one use the opportunity of virtual space to launch a profitable and useful business?
I believe that virtual space has unknown potentials that can create new businesses, but it requires many technical beds.
Unfortunately undesired event that takes place in small businesses is that people get loans but they don’t have necessary skills for running a business and usually after a while they fail because lack of managing small capitals.
My main capital is the workforce who works with high motivation. Right now, I’m looking for examining entrepreneurship plans in the field of virtual space through gathering disabled webmasters so that more people from disable community can have stable employment in these plans.