Education is on the brink of a revolution in India and technology is enabling it. Founded by two ISB (Indian School of Business) graduates, Subramanian Viswanathan and Kuljit Chadha, Harnesstouch tries to provide a better solution to provide education.
“Today, in a classroom, the students still feel disengaged despite interactive boards and multimedia content. A student cannot copy the blackboard, listen and take notes all at the same time,” says Subbu (as Subramanian is popularly known). Even in modern ICT classrooms, some of the multimedia content resembles somebody reading out from a textbook. The teacher, in order to make the class effective, needs to understand how much each student has understood, to make real-time decisions about how to tailor a lecture. “The teacher today, has no forum to distribute her unique content – current educational offerings for the classroom tell even the teacher what to do in each class. A creative teacher may find this too frustrating,” adds Subbu.
Touch-on-Cloud is a platform where Harnesstouch tries to solve all the above problems by harnessing the power of tablets and the cloud. The teacher through a tablet and through Touch-on-Cloud can customize her lectures. The classroom is efficient and user generated content gets rewarded here.
Conception of the idea
While at Mckinsey, Subramanian used a tablet PC and always believed it to have tons of potential in the creation of the next generation class-room. Being more of a ‘technology forward’ innovator rather than a ‘customer backward’ one; Subbu gave his idea a shape and construed the idea into a product.
“Kuljit and I were classmates at ISB. We share a great rapport and it has been our combined passion to build a great products business. I called Kuljit for advice as to whether the idea of using these devices innovatively in the classroom made sense and he said it did,” says Subbu. And hence Harness Handitouch- Harnesstouch was born.
Go-To Market Strategy
“We will be selling to all educational segments in India – premium schools, higher education institutions and private coaching segments through a direct sales channel,” mentions Subbu about their target market. The team at Harnesstouch believes that teaching with tablets is not just about giving a gizmo but a full-fledged implementation that requires training teachers in pedagogy and a deep customer engagement. “For Tier-II cities and internationally, we are likely to go with a channel partner approach since the cost of serving these clients directly is prohibitive,” adds Subbu.
On Being a BizSpark
“BizSpark has helped our product development take off in a jiffy. The breadth of Microsoft products we are using will perhaps have required a significant investment. Luckily, with Microsoft’s generous offer of making every product available to us free, we could invest on true R&D,” says Subbu.
The company has invested largely in product development and some pilot business development. Harnesstouch has also initiated making hardware investments for an education tailored tablet. “While the real value will come from the software layer we are building, I do think the world today lacks an education tailored tablet to make the vision of the student carrying only a tablet to the classroom a reality,” says Subbu about his vision.
Subramanian Viswanathan on ‘Cloud’ in general
The cloud is a much misunderstood term. Many companies use it as another name to disguise their Software-as-a-Service offerings. While I do think true cloud-based computing is 10 years away where everything resides in a virtual scalable world and where users can switch devices as if they log in to their Gmail account from anywhere.
However, with multiple devices making their way into a professional’s bag, the cloud is the only way to keep them in sync. About various platforms, while Amazon web services started as a leader, I think Microsoft, with its suite of developer products, does have a distinct advantage. I will not be surprised if Microsoft emerges as the leader for the cloud platform much the same as Windows has come to dominate the OS world.
Harnesstouch faces many obstacles like a high capital investment, forming a high quality team and customer adoption as Harnesstouch is a pioneering product. The adoption has been encouraging till now and we’d be bringing more updates from Harnesstouch to gauge their progress.