XtraComp: A Mysore based sociaeconomic venture to spread internet literacy
In an era where our lives are being ruled by internet and computers, there are many people who still live on a notion that technology has no significant roles to play, especially in India. This mindset naturally creates a “Digital divide” between the young and old in the society. Enter Xtracomp, an initiative by an IITian Prathap Ranjan along with few other tech lovers to spread the digital knowledge of computers to all age groups.
Based out of Mysore, Xtracomp is a social institute for Computer and Internet learning. Its uniqueness lies in the target audience “We offer practical computer and internet courses to common people in society who did not get chance to learn and use technology” shares Sanghamitra Karan, wife of Mr Pratap and director of Xtracomp. The startup also offers custom training courses for all age groups, E-services for common man, digital café for web surfing. Mysore, popularly known to be a retired person’s paradise served as a good market for the startup to launch its operations but at the same time, trying to convince senior people to opt for these courses, came as a challenge.
Launched on 15th August 2012, Xtracomp now has a team of six people including Sanghamitra, while Pratap serves as an advisor. They also have few channel chartners in Mysore who works on a freelance basis for their sales and marketing. Starting with just three students in the beginning they registered their 100th student in December last year. Sanghamitra says “The last nine months have been an experimental experience for us and we have seen an average enrolment rate of 30 students per month with half of this number consisting of only housewives.”
The design and structure of the courses at Xtracomp have been made in a manner that it covers all age groups including the housewives, elderly and kids. Sanghamitra shares that structuring these courses to meet the target audience came as a challenge for the founding team. “It took some time to really package the offerings in such a way that it solves the need as well as makes it marketable”, she concludes. Xtracomp has also partnerships with Eduwizard and Edukart for providing e-tests and e-courses to their students. The startup also offers few social benefits to the students in the way of local discount cards for shopping, home based works, free workshops on life skills etc.
Sanghamitra is determined to extend their initiative to other Tier II and tier III cities of India through a franchisee model. Tying up with NGOs and State Government for taking up turnkey projects also lines up as one of their future plans.