Started in 2007 by IIT alumni Beas Dev Ralhan , Raveendranath Kamath,Kedar Chowdhary and Deependra Bharatari , Next Education is a K-12-focused technology-based education solution provider. It has created innovative products which make teaching easy, engaging and effective. Its flagship products like TeachNext, LearnNext, MathsLab, ScienceLab and EnglishLab are used in over 6000 plus schools across the country transforming the lives of more than six million students in India. Next Education products are primarily mapped to cover CBSE, ICSE and 23 state boards in eight major Indian languages.
Evolution of the idea
Both Beas and Raveendranath are serial entrepreneurs who were initially involved in a venture ‘PartyGaming’ in Gibraltar (Europe). However, the duo was always passionate about starting up in India. “Next Education was started with the thought that technology will change the face of education in the future,” says Beas. Reminiscing the landscape of technology in education when the duo started, Beas points out, “Education was least impacted by technology at that point, which led us to this idea.”
The first product launched by the company was LearnNext targeted at home learning because the duo thought schools might be slow to adapt technology. “The product became an instant hit. Even today we have 65% plus renewal rate,” reveals Raveendranath. Last year the company sold close to 25,000-odd numbers of LearnNext subscriptions and this year it’s confident of selling 40,000 plus subscriptions.
Saturation of one idea led to another
“Market for LearnNext is very limited as we are competing against schools and tuitions. So, people overlooked LearnNext even if they liked the product,” states Raveendranath. That’s when in 2011 the duo thought of launching TeachNext for schools. Within two years nearly 5,000 schools signed up for TeachNext, reaching almost four million students across India. TeachNext is an e-learning solution that combines the best of hardware, software, content and service which delivers new-age technology and traditional classroom teaching.
Scaling up and revenue
It took three-and-a-half to four years and Rs. 600 million of investment for the company to create the whole content. “Next Education is among the top three digital education content providers in the country. I think we are neck-and-neck with Pearson while Educomp of course is the clear market leader,” states Beas.
The company had raised the initial funding from Anurag Dikshit, co-founder of PartyGaming, who is ranked among the 40 richest Indians, according to ‘Forbes’ Magazine. Anurag owns more than 80% of the company’s shareholding.
Next Education had raised Rs. 1 billion in revenues last year and aims to do close to Rs. 2 billion this year. Over the next three years, Next Education plans to be one of the top three complete education solution providers in India. “Right now our focus is digital education content and NextERP,” adds Raveendranath.
NextERP is a school administration system that helps schools to automate various critical operations like admissions, fee management, parent-teacher-student communication, managing student records, examinations and results management.
Challenges on the way and road ahead
“We had to provide onsite support for hardware because the vendors did not have enough reach. So we had to build our in-house team,” adds Beas. The second challenge was the company had to make quality content for India because it couldn’t use western content straight away. And finally, Next Education had a tough time to convince teachers to leave the traditional chalk-and-talk method of teaching and adopt the audio-visual method.
“Right now Next Education is an ICT provider. We are working towards becoming a complete K-12 solutions provider, providing solutions from teacher training to teaching aids,” adds Raveendranath.