Bringing technology to Indian schools, a story of two persistent womenJubin Mehta
Avneet Makkar and Saraswathy A. had been colleagues at Infosys for more than a decade. The duo had vast experience in dealing with international clients and handling large programs on system and process integration. They had been on site multiple times as well, and noticed one stark difference in the way people communicated in business in India and abroad.
“During our stint with IT majors, we often used to travel and interact with people across the world and felt a growing need of focusing on fundamentals, strong communication and personality development right from childhood so that our youth coming out of colleges become at par with their peers from across the world,” says Avneet. The duo realised that, in the Indian scenario where the teacher-student ratios are higher and there is an ever increasing scarcity of good quality teachers, technology is the only solution to bridge this gap and hence decided to startup Carve Niche in 2010.
Avneet had just had her second child and was aware of the disconnect while Saraswathy also related to the problem very strongly. Cognizant of the challenges, the duo started up Carve Niche as an educational technology company that offers innovative products and solutions for schools and colleges. The initial one and a half years were put into product development which got a thrust from the fact that Mumbai Angels put in an angel round of INR 1 crore. “When we started out the going was really tough as we had expected,” recollects Avneet.
But the duo persisted and have managed to penetrate into four states in India with more than 85 schools using their solutions. “Schools had a very different mindset when we earlier approached them. Technology was hardware for them, paying for software was unfathomable. Things have changed over the years but it has been a test of our patience. And we’re still a long way away from where we intend to be,” says Avneet. An entrepreneur’s journey is arduous and lonely at times but these two women have hung in there.
A team of 20 based out of Bangalore, they’re continuously improving on their product suite:
(i) beGalileo: A personalized adaptive learning platform for students. It is an intelligent platform which is both diagnostic and remedial.
(ii) WisdomLeap: A holistic platform for schools which has a learning management system, ePortfolio and digital content across KG to class X. Empaneled by CBSE through a tender process for sale to all CBSE schools in India and abroad.
(iii) WybeeTab – A personalized solution for android which has a variety of apps for learning from KG to class X.
The revenue model is on a per student per year model and striking a deal with schools builds via networks. Most of their schools currently are in Karnataka (in and around Bangalore), scattered in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra (mainly Mumbai and Pune) and Tamil Nadu. The team is currently looking to expand and also raise another round of investment to scale up their business quickly.
“We’ve come a long way and it’s almost like we can’t give up now. We’ve built our products, have mobilized our sales team and doing our best in whatever we can to improve the education system in India. We’ll kee doing our work and hope for the best,” signs off Avneet.
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