Harshal Jain, Pradeep Chaudhari and Gaurish Chaudhri, a trio from Pune’s College of Engineering (COEP), after their graduation have come up with an online engine that suggests colleges on the basis of various factors via an algorithm. Currently available only for colleges in Maharashtra, WhatNeXT has plans to go national. With existing bigger players in the market, it'll be the algorithm reliability and an eye for detail regarding the admission procedure that would matter. Yourstory.in caught up with them to know more about this engine. Excerpts from the interview: What is WhatNeXT?
WhatNeXT is a college suggester engine website where we provide College Suggestions based on students Entrance Exam Score, Cast, Gender and other required parameters. Along with college suggestions we also provide college details like fees, hostel intake etc. In a nutshell WhatNeXT is a website where student can have a decent idea of colleges where he/she can get into based on his/her score. On top of this, the service is totally free.
What technology have you used?
We used jsp, Servlets, Spring to design core framework of WhatNeXT. For UI we used html, jquery and css. And for database integration we are using hibernate.
Tell us more about your algorithm.
It's pretty straight forward. We take various parameters related to student as input, ask his/her preferences for College and we match this data with historical data present in our database. And after comparing it we provide the list of colleges where student can get admission.
The WhatNeXT trio: Harshal, Pradeep and Gaurish
What kind of traffic do you see?
We launched this website within 15 days after we ideated the concept. And we launched it around the day when entrance exam was to be held for Engineering Admissions. Owing to this opportunistic timing if we may call it that, within a week after the launch, we got terrific response. Overall we got around 6 lakh hits and many phone calls for queries. Later we had to conduct counseling sessions for about 100 students with the amount of limited resources. Also for the students who didn't have connectivity to Internet, we provided the college suggestions over SMS. And we received around 3000 queries for the same.
What kind of challenges did you face?
First challenge was data and technology. Being newbies, we had to learn many things at run time which we didn't know earlier. Second thing was the totally unexpected traffic that we managed to generate. Managing this was a big challenge in itself and we’re still facing it but this is a kind of a challenge we’d like to have.
Apart from this, the Maharashtra Engineering admission Procedure is kind of tricky and difficult. There are various parameters which play important role in admission process. Like there is concept of Home/Other than Home University, reservation for various casts, reservation for female candidate and cut off score variations bases on the round (CAP-1,CAP-2,CAP-3). So we had to understand this process thoroughly.
What is your business model in brief?
Our basic goal is to target the junior college audience and help them in suggesting best possible colleges. We have some google ads on the website to sustain our expenses. Also if we take it full time then our plan is to have counseling center and taking this concept to national level. Our current business goal is to grow our user base and have greater user retention.
What are your expansion plans?
We want to take WhatNeXT pan India and for every possible field. Currently we operate in Maharashtra for Engineering admissions. And to scale up we’d looking for funding in the coming year. Our aim is to help every student in getting all the college related information at a cost of few clicks and at one place.
Established locally, it'll be interesting to see if these young lads manage to scale up WhatNeXT to the next level. You can show your support on their Facebook Page and drop in questions or opinions in the comments section below.