Interview with Cialfo’s Rohan Pasari

Rohan Pasari

Cialfo is a Singapore-based edtech university placement startup that’s simplifying college applications. With the help of the FundedHere platform, the Cialfo team successfully raised their pre-A round of funding from Govin Capital, and connected with accredited investor Mr. Koh Boon Hwee — the former Chairman of SingTel, DBS Bank and Singapore Airlines — and other strategic angels, who saw Cialfo’s potential and subsequently invested in the company.

We sat down with Rohan Pasari, Co-Founder of Cialfo, to chat about the experience:

What inspired you to start your own business? What was the process like and how long did it take?

Rohan: I suppose it all started when I was applying for colleges in high school. I had no older siblings to guide me through the entire process, and was quite lost about how to navigate through the complicated overseas college admissions process. I was hoping that someone someday would change this.

During my time in university, I did a couple of internships in the oil and gas industry and investment banking. I quickly realised that these industries were not my calling. It was also the same time I was enjoying helping my sister and her friends in high school with their college admissions. Soon after I met Stanley and after months of deliberation, research, talking to people within our personal network, we decided to start Cialfo with the vision democratise the college applications landscape globally.

There are many gaps in conventional help that students get for their college prep. For example, agents are committed to send students to their partner universities; guidance counsellors — who are found mostly in international schools — are able to provide limited personal assistance due to the high student-counsellor ratio. The information available online is often irrelevant, as requirements change often and are different for students in different countries. So we started by solving these basic problems first.

However, with time, we built technologies to be able to help a lot more students. Now independent counsellors and consulting organisations around the region are using our platform to make their process a lot more efficient and scale their business.

What are some of your upcoming projects?

Rohan: We are also looking to achieve our goals using technology and help other consultants and high schools serve their students better. We are continuously working to build solutions that will facilitate communication with parents, students and consultants, enhance task and project management, and improve on algorithms for college short-listing.

However, many universities globally currently have a traditional approach to student admissions. We want to change this mindset, which values academics over individual character and skills. In the next five years, we hope to further our vision to democratise the college application process. Students all over the world should have equal access to opportunities, and we have made it our mission to do so through Cialfo.

Beyond helping us to successfully raise funds, the FundedHere community has given us the opportunity to connect with accredited investors that will add tremendous value. The funds will enable our team to focus on product development and on our plans to expand into China and India.