ISB grads’ SkillBoost raises first round of funding from private investors

Just about a month back, YourStory had brought to light the story of ISB grad Abhinav Verma who started up SkillBoost to leverage the power of MicroSoft Office applications. The startup has just raised its first round of funding from private investors. The terms and size of the deal remain undisclosed. “This funding round is the first of a series of angel rounds of funding the company plans to undergo in the next few months,” the founder-CEO told YourStory.

Abhinav had seen how worker productivity and performance depended on whether you can solve business problems using Microsoft Office during his 8 years of banking and finance career in India and the US – he had worked as an investment banker in the Wall Street with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. This insight had prompted the Delhite to start SkillBoost.

SkillBoost: ISB grads target an INR 46.5 billion market with Microsoft Office
SkillBoost: ISB grads target an INR 46.5 billion market with Microsoft Office

Currently, SkillBoost has a stellar team of 9, all friends of Abhinav from ISB and High School. They are professionals with a combined work experience of over 100 years in India and abroad.

(Here’s the full story of the startup: SkillBoost: ISB grads target an INR 46.5 billion market with Microsoft Office)

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Funds from this round will be used primarily for team expansion, marketing activities and expansion of SkillBoost’s product portfolio. “Along with delivery of our regular workshops, we are trying to spread awareness amongst colleges and companies on the importance of MS Office. Though there are many casual learners of such applications, we want to convert them into serious learners through our programs,” says Abhinav.

Skillboost is currently working to make its learning products more interactive. It has floated 2 products in MS Excel in the market and is developing similar products in MS PowerPoint, Word and Access.

“Since our margins are very high, we were able to recover our initial investment and are now pumping in more angel funds to expand operations,” he says.

SkillBoost has a B2B model where it partners with companies and colleges to train their staff. It follows a direct and indirect sales process. “Once we build a bigger brand in the training space, we plan to enter the B2C market,” Abhinav says.

Corporate and college training market

SkillBoost caters to the corporate and college training market. “Within the corporate training market, we operate in the technical training space which is roughly INR 6.5 billion in size and is growing at 2%,” Abhinav says. (*These figures are from E-India Pvt. Ltd. Report from 2010 titled “Market Size of Indian Education”)

The College vocational training industry presents a much bigger market for SkillBoost. The report pegs this market at INR 40 billion in India. It is also growing at a fast pace of 25% CAGR. “Hence, the total addressable market size for our training solutions is INR 46.5 billion. We plan to scale up horizontally to products outside MS Office in the next 5 years within the technical training space. The idea is to train students in overused and underutilized applications,” he says.

SkillBoost has trained over 1,000 personnel from over 15 companies, including Hindustan Unilever, Coca-Cola, RBS, Religare, HSBC, General Electric, Bharti Group and YES Bank. They have also trained students at educational institutions like Delhi School of Economics and Ashoka University in two Excel-based products (Super Excel Boost and Platinum Excel Boost).

Future plans

According to Abhinav, SkillBoost’s vision is to become a leading provider of employable training solutions in the world. “India’s demographic dividend presents a huge market opportunity to expand operations and skill up as many people as possible to become employable. While the vocational training industry is fragmented with several small scale players, SkillBoost is working to provide more holistic training to clients through interactive technology that helps students assess and boost their skills quickly.” he says.

Check out SkillBoost here and tell us what you think of the startup.

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