By Mari-an A. Albert
Mari-an A. Albert, the CEO of The Praxis Company, joined the start-up company when she experienced a Praxis demo firsthand. She saw the engagement it brought out and realized its potential in the Philippine market. She knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that the need for financial literacy has always been there but Praxis provided a novel, fun, and engaging way to do it: gamification!
Today, we welcome Mari-an Albert in our roster of ambitious Filipino entrepreneurs who are using technology to advance financial literacy in the country. Welcome to the Ambitious Tribe.
Our original name was Sense For Money but we realized that most people associated us with our product Praxis, so we changed the name to The Praxis Company and established it in 2015.
We offer a unique and experiential learning solution for financial literacy called Praxis. We develop customized gameplay for our clients with the goal of inspiring them to act towards improving their financial well-being. Our office is located in Makati City.
The need for financial literacy is global, even more acute in countries like ours. We are probably one of the only ones that focus solely on financial awareness/literacy via gamification.
Is it always necessary to be passionate about what your business is about in order for it to succeed?
Being passionate about your business helps one express the value of your product and service. When you are excited and you share that excitement with others, they get excited too!
How did you build your customer base? What form of marketing has been most effective for you so far?
Initially, we went for the financial services corporations. Now, we are targeting the educational sectors and corporations through their employee programs such as personal and financial wellness.
In terms of marketing, so far, direct contact with decision-makers and allowing them to experience Praxis for themselves. We’re also continuously improving our marketing materials to better explain the value of Praxis in organizations. We’ve enhanced our website and social media presence as well.
How do you generate new ideas for your business’ growth?
Two ways: First, from client feedback and second, from our own assessment of how to make things more efficient or effective.
What kind of company culture are you implementing? What are your core values?
As a small company with a small team, having open communication is very important. Everyone needs to feel confident to speak up, share ideas, and bring up issues so these could be addressed immediately.
How do you deal with major mishaps? What would you say is one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
It’s important to deal with the mishap and correct or recover from it. Focus on the issue at hand more than the personalities involved. We try also to do an analysis of the mishap to learn from the mistakes so we don’t do it again.
What skills do you believe are necessary in handling a business?
It’s important to be able to keep an eye on all aspects of the business – not necessarily be an expert in each area but at least understand the basics and be able to provide meaningful input (and if not, be able to find someone who can).
What would you say are some dos and don’ts in starting one?
Do make sure you have all the regulatory and legal aspects covered. Catching up on these can slow down your growth unnecessarily. Don’t spend excessively or grow too fast that you can’t manage the growth or cover expenses.
Was there ever a time you felt afraid that this might not work? How did you manage this fear?
All the time. It’s about conquering the fear, believing in the product, and having a great support system (e.g. partner, family, friends) to help you destress.
Describe a typical day for you.
There’s no typical day. If there is a client event where I’m needed, that becomes the priority. Otherwise, I’m at the office by 8:00 A.M. My day is filled with sales calls, admin stuff, staff meetings, and a bit of R&D.
How many hours of work a day do you put in? How many days per week?
I normally do a regular work week but depending on client needs, we do work nights and weekends upon request.
What sacrifices have you had to make to get here?
We’ve sacrificed weekends and holidays to run games based on our clients’ preferred schedules.
What can you consider is your greatest success?
Being able to balance a full-time career with a family.
What would you say is the secret to success?
I don’t think there’s a secret but it really involves a lot of hard work and an attitude that allows you to persevere despite setbacks.
What motivates you? Who has been your greatest inspiration?
For this business, it’s my kids and the youth in general—knowing there’s a way to get to them in an engaging way so they can lead a better life is motivation enough.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
I’d like to see Praxis played in most schools and as part of every employee wellness program in all organizations. I’d also like to see it reaching out to those who normally don’t have access to formal financial systems.
Edits: Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla | Image Credit: The Praxis Company
Mari-an Albert is the CEO of the Philippines division of The Praxis Company. A project management professional, she has been successful in the undeniably challenging task of managing an all-female team (not deliberate, of course) while effectively advancing the company’s advocacy in financial literacy, with the goal of helping everyone master money.