Saturday, March 6, 2010

Apex English: The Website

(PICTURE: Huyen passing out fliers for my school.)

For the next few days I'll write about the formation of my new school. It's been an -- what's a good word for frustrating, stressful and exciting all wrapped into one -- interesting experience. Actually "interesting" isn't gonna cut it here; I'll go with a learning experience.

The school started with a few blunders. Firstly, I hired a web designer who had two months to design the site. After two months there was literally nothing done. The day after the contract was supposed to be done the guy began the website. The dude literally sent us another company's website with our logo on it. Ben August doesn't get mad often but that morning Ben August was furious -- so furious that I'm still talking about it in third person. After firing the guy he put together the site that is currently up. It took him literally less than two hours. What he was doing the previous two months I'll never know. The site looks pretty good but frankly isn't even close to what I envisioned. If you haven't seen the site yet, here's the link: APEX ENGLISH

All of the nicest stuff on the site, including the logo, were designed by Huyen's friend. The web designer was supposed to do these things but not surprisingly didn't.

Huyen's friend also designed a really nice flier for us. We printed out 1,000 copies of the flier and passed them out at two universities. This was actually a lot of fun. I hired Linh, a friend of Huyen's, to help me out. Linh took me to the universities and between classes had me talk to the students in large lecture halls. I wish I had video of this but sadly I don't. Basically Linh would take a microphone that is standard in all classes and introduce me. I would get a huge round of applause from the students and then proceed to pitch them why they should come to my school. After speaking to about eight classes we had over 70 students sign up their contact information, indicating that they were interested in the school.

The most memorable part of pitching to the students was when I was heckled in a class. Heckled is probably too strong of a word but you can be the judge. Here's the basic transcript of what happened:
BEN: (pitching the school) My school is very small. We have 1 classroom and we have 1 teacher...
STUDENT IN THE BACK ROW: (yells out) And maybe one student!!!

The whole class erupted in laughter. I laughed too because he struck upon my biggest fear.

Another funny experience was this:
BEN: (finishing my speech)....I hope to teach many of you at Apex English. Are there any questions?
GIRL WHO IS FLUENT IN ENGLISH: Yes, I have two questions. My first question is whether or not you're married.
BEN: (laughing) No, I'm not married.
GIRL WHO IS FLUENT IN ENGLISH: My second question is whether you like any of the girls in this class?
BEN: I will like many of the girls in this class if they sign up for my school.

Okay, I didn't really say that but should have...


lvu said...

Congrats Ben. It looks good.

There are some tiny format issues that should be changed. First, the front-page logos move so fast that no one can capture the content. Second, the paragraph in Vietnamese is not well organized. They need to be separated. Third, the week was divided into 2 different schedules (Mon, Wed, Fri); and (Tue and Thurs), but they are all the same.

Laura said...

it looks like it's all coming together great, ben! congratulations!!

Benjamin said...

Thanks for the feedback. The schedule is not a mistake. We offer classes Monday/Wed/Friday (three times a week) or Tuesday/Thursday (twice a week).

I would like to fix the other stuff but as you read, I fired the website guy! I'll need to hire another person soon to go back and make changes.

Alex said...

awesome, heard you guys are on the bubble for the Vietnam D-3 hoops tournament!

Anthony said...

Elissa used to do web design for Barnard. She may be able to help out.

**Maria ** said...

So excited for you, Ben! That's awesome. I ahve a question about your site though... On the right side of the page it says "IBM" and "Microsoft Certified Partner", etc... Did your web designer use a software services company as a base for the site or are you really a MS partner? :)

Benjamin said...

I have no idea why it says that stuff on the right side. I asked the guy to take that down but alas he was fired.

Trang said...

I've been read your blog for quite a long time but haven't comment in any of the post but I'm your fan :) I wish the school is in HCMC so that I can join yours.

I think since you don't have anyone to help with the website yet, you can open a Facebook page so that many people who love your blog and want to learn English get to know your school better.

I hope everything will be great soon. Good luck

Benjamin said...

Thanks for the comment, Trang! I actually have started a facebook page for Apex. Our email is

You can find us on there and become our friend!


Trang said...

Hi Ben it's me Trang again. One of my friend in Ha Noi want to study English and ask you more information about classes. Can you send me your phone number and email address I'll pass it to my friend. Thanks you so much

Ah my email is