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An unexpected path to entrepreneurship leads kiwi data scientist to Southeast Asia 

5 December 2022

Eskwelabs is a data upskilling school in Southeast Asia that is democratising access to new job opportunities by helping adult learners capitalise on where humans can offer better value than technology. 

Co-founder and Velocity alumnus Caleb Tutty says “The rapid development of technology is putting many human-centric jobs at risk. In Southeast Asia the price of tertiary study is a barrier to many, and some may not complete their studies due to financial constraints. The quality of education is also variable and training around job-ready skills which accelerate job opportunities isn’t always the focus.” 

Eswelabs aims to equip learners with job-ready data skills they can take straight to the workforce. Their flagship Data Science and Data Analytics bootcamps have taught hundreds of students’ topics like Machine Learning, effective data visualisation and stakeholder communication. On average their graduates’ salaries increase by 50% and have landed roles in e-commerce, banking, start-ups, and large consultancy companies. 

Caleb unwittingly fell into data science work through Student Job Search while completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Auckland.  “My journey to data science was an unconventional one.”

Caleb previously worked as a data journalist for NZ Herald, being awarded runner up for Business Journalist of the Year in 2017 and was Westpac’s first data scientist.  

In 2019 he was headhunted by Entrepreneur First to join the fifth Singapore cohort of their intensive start-up accelerator program; designed for pre-team founders to matchmake and validate ideas before pitching to receive pre-seed investment and demoing to regional and international venture capital firms. 

Initially founding an AI tech construction start-up, he joined the Eskwelabs founding team shortly after making the call to park his venture due to complications with Covid. He joined early on in their journey but during a significant transition period where they were moving from in-person bootcamps in a classroom setting to online learning.  

Working with learning and development professionals to make the courses promote a love of learning and a habit for lifelong learning, the work placements of their graduates have earnt them a solid reputation in industry. 

On top of their three month-long bootcamps and ‘learning sprints’ which take the best elements of the bootcamps, Eskwelabs has been partnering with the Australian government to deliver data literacy courses to work-from-home Filipina mums and have been working with Project Inclusion Network to help people with disabilities increase their employment opportunities. 

After nearly three years in the start-up, Caleb is moving on and transitioning to an advisor role to stay connected with the work they are doing.  

“Living and working in Southeast Asia has been illuminating. There are many privileges we have in New Zealand, but also other norms and a level of competition which we are sheltered from. It is easy to be naive about how sophisticated other markets are. E-wallets, digital banks, financial inclusion initiatives and the fintech ecosystem across Asia are great examples. Many New Zealand banks are still incapable of instant transactions to another domestic bank and lack the pressure to innovate.  

To aspiring entrepreneurs he says, “Find opportunities to understand what life is really like elsewhere, through travel or working overseas and think about what kind of work is meaningful for you. Do not be overly precious about your start-up idea. If someone could beat you in terms of execution simply by overhearing your idea in a cafe, then you do not have a defensible moat. Think about how to ask good questions and reach out on a personal level to people who could help you. You will be surprised how many will, especially if you are paying for coffee.” 

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

5 December 2022

Eskwelabs is a data upskilling school in Southeast Asia that is democratising access to new job opportunities by helping adult learners capitalise on where humans can offer better value than technology. 

Co-founder and Velocity alumnus Caleb Tutty says “The rapid development of technology is putting many human-centric jobs at risk. In Southeast Asia the price of tertiary study is a barrier to many, and some may not complete their studies due to financial constraints. The quality of education is also variable and training around job-ready skills which accelerate job opportunities isn’t always the focus.” 

Eswelabs aims to equip learners with job-ready data skills they can take straight to the workforce. Their flagship Data Science and Data Analytics bootcamps have taught hundreds of students’ topics like Machine Learning, effective data visualisation and stakeholder communication. On average their graduates’ salaries increase by 50% and have landed roles in e-commerce, banking, start-ups, and large consultancy companies. 

Caleb unwittingly fell into data science work through Student Job Search while completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Auckland.  “My journey to data science was an unconventional one.”

Caleb previously worked as a data journalist for NZ Herald, being awarded runner up for Business Journalist of the Year in 2017 and was Westpac’s first data scientist.  

In 2019 he was headhunted by Entrepreneur First to join the fifth Singapore cohort of their intensive start-up accelerator program; designed for pre-team founders to matchmake and validate ideas before pitching to receive pre-seed investment and demoing to regional and international venture capital firms. 

Initially founding an AI tech construction start-up, he joined the Eskwelabs founding team shortly after making the call to park his venture due to complications with Covid. He joined early on in their journey but during a significant transition period where they were moving from in-person bootcamps in a classroom setting to online learning.  

Working with learning and development professionals to make the courses promote a love of learning and a habit for lifelong learning, the work placements of their graduates have earnt them a solid reputation in industry. 

On top of their three month-long bootcamps and ‘learning sprints’ which take the best elements of the bootcamps, Eskwelabs has been partnering with the Australian government to deliver data literacy courses to work-from-home Filipina mums and have been working with Project Inclusion Network to help people with disabilities increase their employment opportunities. 

After nearly three years in the start-up, Caleb is moving on and transitioning to an advisor role to stay connected with the work they are doing.  

“Living and working in Southeast Asia has been illuminating. There are many privileges we have in New Zealand, but also other norms and a level of competition which we are sheltered from. It is easy to be naive about how sophisticated other markets are. E-wallets, digital banks, financial inclusion initiatives and the fintech ecosystem across Asia are great examples. Many New Zealand banks are still incapable of instant transactions to another domestic bank and lack the pressure to innovate.  

To aspiring entrepreneurs he says, “Find opportunities to understand what life is really like elsewhere, through travel or working overseas and think about what kind of work is meaningful for you. Do not be overly precious about your start-up idea. If someone could beat you in terms of execution simply by overhearing your idea in a cafe, then you do not have a defensible moat. Think about how to ask good questions and reach out on a personal level to people who could help you. You will be surprised how many will, especially if you are paying for coffee.” 


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