Why do we make Pagecall?

Why do we make Pagecall?

Story of a friend who gave up his dream in the face of reality

Paper plane
Photo by Andrey Larin / Unsplash

When I was in college, I was in a class of 158 students. At the top of the class was Eugene (pseudonym). Unlike most of my classmates who had graduated from renowned high schools, Eugene came from a public school none of us had heard of. But it didn't take long for anyone to see why Eugene was our class valedictorian; he had brilliant ideas and was even more insightful than the professor sometimes. Eugene read faster than anyone, comprehended his readings well, and organized his thoughts into words like none other. Shortly after we started school, I heard he was even awarded the President's Award.

Eugene was constantly busy throughout his college days. He took a work-study position in the administrative office and went to far away areas where other students would not go for tutoring jobs. He applied to all kinds of scholarship and grant programs and, at the same time, put forward his best effort for all the assignments and tests, saying that he had to get the merit scholarship from the school. Eugene was always trying to secure the dormitory, which was too old and neglected by most students after freshman year. By my senior year, it was almost impossible to meet Eugene. Unlike most of us who spent time preparing for grad school exams or studying abroad, Eugene dashed toward graduation. He got a job at an IT company during the graduation semester.

We don't think twice about getting a job at an IT company now, but back then, the natural choice for success was to pursue a professional degree. Needless to say, Eugene's choice was a bit unorthodox for a class valedictorian. I couldn't always agree with Eugene's decisions. Why did Eugene waste time traveling so far for a tutoring job? Why did he stay up all night to fill out applications and go to interviews regardless of the award size when it came to grants? Why was Eugene always trying to get the scruffy and uncomfortable dormitory with a roommate? Why didn't Eugene do what he wanted to do?

The reason why Eugene lived like a runaway train only became clear to me sometime afterward, when I heard his story after he gained some economic stability through his work. Growing up in a relatively affluent environment, it never occurred to me that a parent in their 50s could be without a job or that I would need to care for my parents before I reached my 50s. Eugene, on the other hand, was the sole breadwinner of his family without anyone to rely on, away from his hometown, at the age of 24.

Eugene was the smartest of our classmates and could have been a better tutor than anyone else. What if he could have earned tuition in a more stable environment during his school days? Maybe he could have focused more on the studies he wanted to do, participate in different experiences such as an exchange program or multiple internships, and choose a major he wanted instead of what was required by the job market.

Story of a student who traveled 30 miles to find a tutor

Photo by Ant Rozetsky / Unsplash

In the winter of 2014, before the founding of PPLINK, I had just gotten a job as a math instructor in a famous cram school district. Most of the top students wanted to get into the director's class, so as a new instructor, I was assigned mostly low-ranking students with poor grades. Jamie (pseudonym) was one of them. She was a high school freshman who had scored close to zero on the cram school admissions exam, and the administrative office naturally assigned her to me. Usually, students come to the first consultation with their parents, but Jamie was alone. As for the school she was attending, I'd never heard of it.

I found out that Jamie came to the consultation alone by taking the bus and subway for an hour. She said she wanted to go to a science track in high school, but there were no cram schools that specialized in high school science-track math where she lived, so she came to a famous cram school district. She had the option of taking on-demand courses, too, but needed an instructor who could answer her questions because she often had trouble understanding the first time. When she couldn't find such an instructor near home, she and her parents made the big decision for her to commute to the cram school district.

Jamie was mature for her age. She registered for the courses, made the payments, and took care of all the administrative tasks before she left that day. For the next few weeks, Jamie came to the cram school five days a week for the winter term and studied hard. Her favorite line was, "Oh, that's what it means!" I had her review middle school math quickly because her entry-level test scores were too low for her to begin high school math. Jamie told me she now understood for the first time the relationship between equations, inequalities, and functions. I had only taught what was obvious to me, but her eyes glittered at my tales of the basics of mathematics. She studied diligently even after I quit the cram school job to found PPLINK and later entered the electronic engineering department of a university.

After quitting as the cram school job and founding PPLINK, Jamie's mother contacted me and said she wanted to treat me to a meal. During our somewhat awkward meeting, she told me this: "You are the answer to my prayer. I've always prayed for Jamie to meet a good teacher, and you've been a mentor to Jamie."

Jamie had spent two hours every day, totaling 40 hours and $100 in transportation fees every month, to find and talk to someone who could answer her questions. Jamie's mother couldn't help Jamie move to a better district for many practical reasons, but she was making every effort to help Jamie get the learning environment she wanted, albeit with a one-hour commute each way. Couldn't Jamie have had a different high school life if there were Supaja, Seoltab, and Qanda at the time?

Online tutor for the Eugenes and the Jaimes around us

In March 2015, when Ryan came to me to tell me he wants to start a video tutoring service, I asked him why video tutoring, of all things. Then Ryan started talking about how he was working as an instructor at an M video tutoring service after being discharged from the military in 2014. On a good day, he would have up to three consecutive teaching sessions in a row, giving him an opportunity to make money as well as enjoy a sense of accomplishment for helping the students.

Then one day, the management of the M video tutoring service bolted (the damage was sizable enough to make it on the news), and suddenly the students who paid in advance were unable to take classes or get their money back. The instructors had no way of receiving the wages for the classes they had already taught. The affected instructors decided to go to court, and Ryan became the representative of the lawsuit. In the process, he gathered the affected instructors in a chat room to confirm the extent of the damage.

The instructors who had no convergences previously, once gathered in a group chat room for a lawsuit, naturally started to share their feelings about this video tutoring service. The rewarding moments, the financial difficulties, and everything in between. Ryan learned that some instructors, regardless of whether or not they had been paid, continued to teach their classes so that their students would not suffer academic loss from the discontinued lessons. And he realized that this platform afforded financial support for the instructors, new learning opportunities for the students, and a fee-earning system for the mediating company. It was a "win-win-win" platform.

Listening to Ryan's story, I thought of Eugene and Jamie. I was convinced that the service Ryan was trying to establish was a platform that would connect Eugenes and Jamies around us, and I decided to help Ryan achieve his dream. In fact, when we opened the video tutoring service, the first to knock on the door were the Eugenes who had difficulty finding tutees because they were from rural areas and had to earn tuition while preparing for the national exams. And there were the Jamies who needed to graduate from Canada but wanted the coursework explained in Korean, who were preparing for the Japanese engineering university exams but had difficulty finding people to ask questions, and who had to get caught up to speed on the Korean school curriculum because they were abroad but had to return to Korea soon.

For Eugenes and Jamies in various fields around the world

Photo by Luca Upper / Unsplash

I met people from all walks of life who wanted to create new business opportunities using this technology we were developing. I met a business consultant, tax accountant, labor attorney, and a legal platform startup team that wanted to popularize legal counseling. I met a platform startup team that connected Koreans and travelers from all over the world to create a local-like travel itinerary and a platform startup team that consults in advance with foreign patients who want to come to Korea for medical procedures and Korean doctors. I met people who want to sell insurance, people who want to tell fortunes, creators who want to communicate with fans, and so forth. They were teams that had exciting ideas on how to provide a platform for Eugenes and Jamies all over the world.

Sometimes we thought about running a mega platform ourselves to help all the Eugenes and the Jamies meet. However, I learned from my past experience that a platform for everyone may turn out to be a platform for no one and that running a platform does not simply mean creating software but that it involves a tough operating task of consistently gathering and matching the Eugenes and the Jamies. So I didn't dare attempt that again. Not to mention we did not have the resources to develop and operate such a mega platform.

How about if we got a big investment? Sure, that idea's come up too, but we ultimately turned away. We knew from first-hand experience that the Eugenes and the Jamies on the video tutoring platforms had diverse expectations. Some Eugenes want to take classes only on demand, while some Eugenes want to have regular classes at a fixed time. Some Jamies want the platform to give them a set curriculum, while some Jamies want only their questions addressed. That's why even though our clients are all video tutoring platforms, they are each recognized their worth of hundreds of millions of dollars and receive an investment to solve the problems each wants to solve. This is why we believe that a single platform cannot be an end-all solution to all problems.

And that's why it is meaningful to see various platforms within the same field - each of them accommodates the diverse preferences of the Eugenes and the Jamies. What may seem trivial to us may just be what hits or misses the customers. That's why Pagecall respects the different goals of all platforms and does our best to realize their values as intended. It's not easy by any means, but we have chosen to be the trustworthy partner to the many platforms out there, equipped and ready with the tools they need to configure and utilize Pagecall as they want.

Creating a new lifestyle through platforms in every country and industry


Even before Pagecall, there were Skype, Hangout, and Zoom. But Eugene still had to commute for more than an hour to tutor and earn tuition, and Jamie had to travel after school for more than an hour to go to cram school. We could work endlessly to develop the technology behind Pagecall, but that does not mean people are automatically connected for better lives. Our technology could only come to fruition when Eugenes, who can provide the necessary information and help, and Jamies, who need the help, can gather.

As of 2021, thanks to Pagecall and several platform operators working together in the online tutoring industry, it has become natural for Eugene to study in the library and stay there to earn tuition during a short break and for Jamie to meet a teacher who explains the concepts of math kindly until she understands at the comfort of home after finishing her late-hour school studies. The lifestyle changes for college students and teenagers became the norm in just two years. This is a testament that Pagecall is indeed the most powerful solution for starting a platform that can create new lifestyles.

Team PPLINK hones Pagecall to help change the world by helping more platforms to be born. Now we help middle and high school students learn and college students make a living, but in the future, we will accelerate the emergence of a platform where artistically gifted Arnaf in India can get feedback from painters in France and a platform service that allows Derek, a retired and financially-struggling teacher in Oklahoma, to find and teach Japanese students who want to learn English. In addition, we will lower the barriers to education so that no matter where you live in the world, you can receive top-level customized education online, as well as job-related knowledge from teachers who are best suited to you.

Pagecall: a trusted platform builder

Pagecall University

The services we call Pagecall's competitors often focus on good-quality video communication. Of course, high-quality video communication is essential and vital to us, too. However, PPLINK aims to go above and beyond to pursue a more immersive and dynamic experience and to provide software that upholds the planning and philosophy of our customers.

We understand that there are no guaranteed successes. Some of our customer platforms, too, may fail along the way. Still, if they are earnest about solving the problem of communication between the world's Eugenes and Jamies, they will try again, making sharper jabs next time using Pagecall. Team PPLINK is open to hundreds of partners around the world so that hundreds of millions of Eugenes and Jamies can meet on the platforms and experience new life opportunities.

It was not until 2022 that Pagecall finally grew to the point where we could help platform services in the education sector exactly in the direction they are headed with the utmost respect for what they want. Nonetheless, we are still far from ready to welcome the platforms in countless fields, including the legal, medical, and financial sectors. That's why Team PPLINK works harder every day. So that as entrepreneurs around the world develop services according to their vision, our technology can help their imagination become a reality.

Originally written by Piljun and retold by Charmy

About Pagecall

Pagecall is a state-of-the-art tool for real-time audio, video, and whiteboard interactions facilitating interactive and seamless online communication. We’re transforming the tutoring industry, one lesson at a time.