In the age of digitization of schools with electronic classrooms that boast of giant LEDs and software, Report Bee, founded by Ananth Mani, Manu, Bala Ganesh, and Vinod, have developed a tool to measure the metrics of school performance – of teachers, class, students, and the school as a whole. Coming from varied backgrounds, this team of four is redefining the way schools measure performance and keep a tab on it on an ongoing basis to improve, develop and scale. In TiECON 2010, Report Bee won the TiE-LIBA business plan competition that gave them a purse of Rs. 4 lakhs.YourStory caught up with Ananth Mani, CEO of Report Bee, for a conversation. The following email conversation captures the story of Report Bee exclusively for you.
YourStory: If someone asked you to tell them about Report Bee in about three sentences, what would you say?
Ananth Mani: We have this 10 Minutes Challenge—Within 10 minutes, would it be possible to get the comprehensive performance of entire school or that of individual students at any specific time in a given academic year? With Report Bee you can beat the challenge easily.
Report Bee provides an easy-to-use information dashboard about the entire school’s academic performance.
It truly gives a lot of power to educators. They can access historical trends of students’ progress, find out what teaching method works or which student needs help in a specific subject, discover a pattern in sudden improvements and identify their own best and worst practices, right at their fingertips.
YS: What is the USP of your service to schools?
Ananth: School management can sense the pulse of the school at their fingertips and make quicker and better decisions.
Saves time for teachers and helps them focus more on teaching.
Helps in measuring the effectiveness of a teaching methodology.
YS: What sparked the idea of Report Bee?
Ananth: While walking down the corridor of a school, in a corner I saw a huge pile of 'student progress cards' dumped as garbage. In the same school we had a meeting for a program to help students who had been getting between 50 to 60 in the previous three tests and assignments. We wanted a list of such students across various sections. In order to get this information, it took us three weeks. The school had IT systems in place, but the information wasn’t accessible.
The school management is not empowered with 'use-able' data. This is the same case with teachers. The teachers have to rely on their memory, which is a huge toll, if all the tests, assignments and project scores are to be remembered.
Lack of Report Bee leads to stereotyping and failure to read new trends and progress.
YS: Tell us about your background.
Ananth: My career has revolved around a close marriage between media and technology. I started at a media company, Times of India, in the technology division and moved on to Cognizant Technology Solutions in the media division. Later I built a technology division at an educational media company as Head of the technology.
I'm from IIM - Bangalore along with an Electrical Engineering degree from NIT. I’m also an active member of CII-YI and currently a member of the Executive Council.
YS: Let us know about the tie-ups that you have (if any). Is there acceptance for your concept? Can you give us some incidents to illustrate the same?
Ananth: We have implemented Report Bee in two schools and are going to start in four more schools.
We are currently in active discussions with two partners.
YS: What are the future plans of Report Bee?
Ananth: We want every school to be powered with Report Bee. We don't envision Report Bee as only a stand-alone product, but a plugin to the existing set of systems available for schools.
The next significant step would be to empower parents and students.
YS: What is Report Bee’s revenue model? Have you been funded? If yes, can you throw some light on how the funding came about and from whom?
Ananth: The schools pay for Report Bee software as service, with a per-student charge.
We're bootstrapped for the first eight months. Now that we have a proven product and two paying customers, we have raised small 'friendly seed' that will take care of our operations for the next ten months.
The funding was from two early stage investors and mentors: Anand Pakkurti and M.P Lakshmipathy.
YS: As an entrepreneur, what are your joys? What are the challenges?
Ananth: The joy is when you see that you have truly affected peoples’ lives in a positive way, and also just enjoying the whole process of creating that experience.
Challenges change in each stage; at the early stage it was to ship a working product quickly to the real user which we did in six weeks’ time i.e. from idea to actual use. We iterated from real user feedback.
The challenges now are to scale rapidly and bring in efficient operations.
YS: How big is the Report Bee team? Give us some info on team composition. Number of people, their backgrounds. Are you looking at hiring?
Ananth: We're a team of about four. The typical backgrounds are IIT, IIM, and NIT. We are looking at hiring creative and fun loving high-end programming, Mathematics and Statistics talent.
YS: Let us know about your expansion plans.
Ananth: We plan to expand our partnership to private schools. We're also in talks with the government for large-scale implementation.
YS: Throw in a few stats (how many users/clients, most popular products /services / components / apps, maximum response from which city, interesting trends and usage patterns, forecasts for the future and anything else that's relevant).
Ananth: We are powering 3000 students’ academic lives and we're set to increase that on a huge scale.
The most popular feature is the colourful charts that give an academic picture of an entire class, at a single glance.
A lot of magic will happen as we touch more schools and students. We will then be able to significantly affect the educational system for the better.
YourStory wishes Report Bee greater success in the future.