Aureus Academy

We have always been using technology to run our business and help us grow, but Salesforce has helped us to truly scale. Without the infrastructure we laid out using Salesforce, we wouldn’t have been able to grow as quickly as we have.”

Julius Holmefjord-Sarabi | CTO and CFO, Aureus Group

Aureus Academy builds new experiences with Salesforce

Aureus Academy was founded in 2013 by brothers Lawrence and Julius Holmefjord-Sarabi. Lawrence, CEO of the Aureus Group, is an international award-winning pianist who graduated from the prestigious Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore. Julius, CTO and CFO of the Aureus Group, is a tested entrepreneur with experience in apparel and IT start-ups in the United States.

Combining their passions and talents, the brothers have made Aureus Academy Singapore’s leading music school with 18,000 students enrolled in its individually tailored lessons. Their vision now is for Aureus Group to be the undisputed leader of creative arts education globally by September 2025. They are using Salesforce to get to this next level and to provide students with exceptional learning experiences along the way.

Future-proofing growth

Aureus Academy has used technology and data to drive its success from day one. Rather than relying on standard curriculum, for example, Aureus Academy tailors lessons for each student and relies on data such as enrollments, attendance, and churn to measure success.

“We feel like kids learn best by learning what they want to learn and that means teaching based on whatever song they want to know rather than a standard curriculum,” said Julius. “For us to know it’s working, we need to look at the data.”

When Aureus Academy was small, this reporting and analysis was easy. However, like many things, it got more challenging as the business grew.

“Every time you scale to a certain size your processes and systems are going to break and that’s why we started to look for a solution to the problems that were three to five years down the line,” said Julius.

A few solutions were shortlisted and the business was almost ready to make a decision before Julius was fortuitously introduced to someone from Salesforce. The chance meeting led to a discussion with Salesforce partner TechMatrix Consulting who demonstrated how several of the applications needed by Aureus Academy could be built on the Salesforce Platform.

“We have always been using technology to run our business and help us grow, but Salesforce has helped us to truly scale. Without the infrastructure we laid out using Salesforce, we wouldn’t have been able to grow as quickly as we have over the last 3-years!” said Julius. “Credit goes to TechMatrix as well; they really understood our business issues and wanted to help solve these challenges.”

Building new experiences for customers and employees

In October 2018, Aureus Academy worked with TechMatrix to roll out Salesforce in nine months, starting with Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. Sales Cloud provides a single view of customers to grow deeper relationships while Service Cloud is used for case management and to drive the workflows behind Aureus Academy’s custom applications. The applications themselves have been built using Heroku, enabling the business to leverage features like low-code builders as well as existing security and infrastructure.

“Salesforce allows us to focus on building processes that are unique to our business while leveraging existing infrastructure and workflows. It means we can build applications for about a third of what it would cost to build from the ground up,” said Julius.

One of those applications built on Heroku automates the creation of invoices and other billing processes. The application enables Aureus Academy to collect more than 97% of accounts receivable in the first three days of the month and automatically follows up on any unpaid invoices.

Another application built on Heroku allows students to schedule and reschedule lessons online. Aureus Academy has flexible policies to support students’ continued learning and one of those is the ability to cancel and reschedule lessons as needed. In the past, requests were managed by email and over the phone which took up a considerable amount of time for everyone. Now, students or their parents can self-serve, resulting in 15,000 monthly scheduling events managed directly within the app.

These applications as well as another that manages workflows around employee leave are just a few examples of how Aureus Academy uses Salesforce to streamline operations while simultaneously providing a better experience for customers and employees.

Driving continued transformation and student success

Aureus Academy’s investment in digitising its operations proved invaluable during the pandemic when it had to pivot quickly to provide remote lessons. For example, as Singapore prepared for its circuit breaker in April 2020,  Aureus Academy moved the majority of lessons online in 72 hours. It used Salesforce to track interactions with customers on an hour-by-hour and sometimes minute-by-minute basis, ensuring everyone was contacted quickly and supported to continue their lessons.

Aureus Academy encouraged all students to at least try online lessons and in some cases sent them instruments for free. At the same time, the business provided coaching and support to teachers to ensure lessons were engaging and that students continued to progress.

The business also initiated development of Aureus Link, a new platform on which to host online lessons. Currently being built using Heroku, Aureus Link is designed to overcome current challenges with audio compression that can distort the sound of notes on other platforms.

“Learning music is like going to the gym in that once you stop it takes time to rebuild. We didn’t want this to happen to students so we did what we could to keep them engaged while ensuring the business remained commercially viable,” said Julius.

As a result of its efforts migrating lessons online, Aureus Academy was able to stabilise the business and accelerate growth by adding five new school locations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical expansion combined with successful integration of online lessons into Aureus Academy allowed the business to grow by 100% in two years. Even today, online lessons have been integrated as an option for students who don't always have time to attend in-person.

Even more exciting is that Aureus Group is now preparing for its next stage of growth with Koko. Koko is a new e-learning platform built on Heroku that allows anyone to learn from structured courses and popular songs, all delivered by qualified teachers who are passionate about music.



The bite-sized lessons are designed to be flexible and engaging just like the business’ traditional lessons. For example, students will have the option to learn a variety of songs and switch instructors to find the one that’s right for them. The application will also feature visual tips and explanations and include gamified quizzes to make learning engaging and fun.

“What we’re doing with Koko is replicating the experience students have at our music school, but in a digital product that will allow us to reach a global audience and make learning music more accessible and affordable,” said Julius. 

Sustaining growth and customer satisfaction

Aureus Academy has increased its revenue by over 300% since adopting Salesforce. The business’ profitable growth has been supported by efficiencies in operations and by the use of data to make strategic decisions.

For example, with Tableau CRM, Aureus Academy is able to connect and analyse data to carefully monitor performance metrics such as enrollment, attendance, and teacher utilisation. It can also analyse  revenue by breaking down performance by centre or teacher. These insights help the business to know what levers to pull to minimise churn and maximise growth.

Similarly, Aureus Academy analyses data from Service Cloud to proactively solve recurring issues and identify opportunities to bring down response times. With planned improvements like the addition of Live Chat on its website, it aims to bring response times down from 24 hours to just four.

Aureus Academy has plans to use Marketing Cloud to accelerate its sales and marketing. Advertising Studio has been rolled out first with the immediate purpose of suppressing existing customers from campaigns. This will enable the business to redirect anywhere between 15 to 20% of its advertising spend to target new audiences and drive up enrollments.

As the business continues to innovate and grow, it is using Slack internally to collaborate and celebrate success. The secure, channel-based messaging platform helps to break down organisational silos and makes it easier for employees to approach management with suggestions or concerts.

There’s a separate channel in Slack for each centre location, and one for centre management where the business announces and celebrates small wins such as new enrollments. The business also posts each morning to announce how many trial lessons there are for the day and to wish the team luck as they strive to secure more enrollments.

Aureus Group is passionate about these wins and the opportunity to introduce more students to music. This is also reflected in the business’ volunteer work with community organisations such as Life Community Services Singapore: MightyKids, Families & Community and Ain Society.

“Music is inclusive and we want everyone to be a part of it. One of the advantages of having a full-time staff is that we can dedicate time to these outreach programs,” said Julius. “In the future, we’ll also be able to use Koko to offer lessons to more people in more languages and make learning more accessible.”


Read highlights on Connected & Seamless Service from Julius here


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