Vivek Pande, PrincipalSoft: Technology-driven educational products & training solutions

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YourStory caught up with Pune-based entrepreneur Vivek Pande to know more about his venture PrincipalSoft, which provides technology-driven educational products and training solutions that are designed to enhance the teaching – learning process. In this chat with YourStory, Vivek speaks about their flagship products (eMAT, eCET, eSchool, etc.) and how the key to success in educational products lies in enabling multi-lingual support.Vivek, please tell us what PrincipalSoft is all about.

PrincipalSoft is a technology company catering to the education sector and we are driven by the singular passion to improve the quality of the teaching - learning process by leveraging technology.

What are your flagship solutions?

We are constantly trying to develop robust educational products and training solutions. Some of our flagship products include eCET, which is a web based as well as CD based assessment program to help students of MHT-CET examination for focused learning and self analysis.

eMAT is another computer based test series that helps management students in practising and understanding the methodology  of solving the aptitude problems that are assessed by the companies during recruitment process. We have also developed eRecruit which is a web based solution framework that helps the IT organizations and staffing companies in objective based screening of candidates to map the technical and behavioural skills.

eSchool is another web based solution that offers automated exam assessment and 100% accurate results with instant result sheet. It eliminates the need for repetitive paper checking and acts as a time management tool for the teachers. myHRCare is a web based, data driven, work-flow based H.R. information management solution that caters to the human capital information management needs of an organization. It is extendible to interface with existing systems including access control and accounting.

How did the business idea for PrincipalSoft come about? How much capital was required to implement the business idea?

The company was formed hastily, as there was a possibility of getting a business from US-based customer. In order to present them with a proposal, the company had to be “projected” to be capable, creditable and backed by team of passionate individuals. We tried to put all that in our first initial pitch and went ahead. We started with our first project after about a year from the time we registered the company in India. The project was again an outsourced product development project.

The initial investment was about Rs.2,50,000/- a month which pretty much went into the rentals and operations. From there, we scaled up to 35 IT professionals in first 3 years with revenue of Rs 1.5 crore in the 2nd year.

Tell us about your background.

I am a computer management post graduate from Symbiosis, Pune and am currently pursuing my Ph.D. I have been invited by many of the renowned business schools in the Pune region as  a speaker and have also been on the panel of judges at Endeavor, CyberGenius and other business plan competitions across institutions.Where do you see PrincipalSoft five years from now?

We will continue to focus on the education sector with more value-added services to address the needs of teaching-learning process. We also foresee expanding into the training & education field, with the focus on bridging the gap between academics and industry requirements. We would also like to be a technology partner with management institutions, junior colleges and schools to equip their students with the real world skills and exposure.

What is PrincipalSoft’s revenue model?

We generate our revenue through the sale of products and allied services. We have been self- funded, so far. Once we bring an expert with the experience in scaling up the operations to a national scale, external funding would be the key for our growth

How big is the team behind PrincipalSoft?

We are currently a team of 30 members at PrincipalSoft. Hema Pande and I are the co-founders of PrincipalSoft and we are currently the directors. We also have on board 4 business development managers, 2 sales executives, 1 business analyst, 2 technical leads, 6 developers, 4 quality assurance engineers, 2 process engineers, 1 HR manager, 1 operations manager, 1 web designer, 1 accountant and 3 support staff.

What are the challenges that you faced while developing your solutions? How did you overcome those challenges?

The biggest challenge was getting feedback from the customer on the value of the solutions. Due to their non availability of time, this was difficult. Another challenge we faced was that technology was still alien to the educational institutions, as the core methodology of teaching is still text-book based.

Also, the selling of our products like HRCare to IT companies has been a major issue due to its perceived value. Most of the IT companies tend to think of developing the software in-house after looking at the demo. Customization is always treated as a cost-free affair which further deteriorates the cost.

How has the journey been so far? Let us know about your expansion plans.

So far, we have tied up with Software Exporters Association of Pune for being a technological partner to conduct the CyberGenius competition. The online examination framework has been successfully used to cut down on the event time to just 4 weekends. We have also partnered with Dr. Shamrao Kalmadi High School for conducting the academic assessment of students from class V through class X. The process has evolved and stabilized for over 3 years now. eCET, our CD based program has been used by over 5000 students in last 2 years.

The key to the success of our products is its versatility in supporting multi-lingual as well as graphic supporting features. There is a huge demand of such solutions in the Tier II and Tier III cities where the private coaching is available in limited scope and internet penetration is still low.

Currently, we are focussing on educational products and services. Depending on the number of new closures (about 12 new closures per year), we would add more people to the technical and customer care teams and depending on the training clients, we will add trainers and content developers to the staff.

We at your story wish Vivek and the entire team at PrincipalSoft much success. To know more about this venture and the products that they have developed, check out http://www.principalsoft.com/. Also, do share with us your views on this story by writing to us atfeedback@yourstory.in.