“Fifty two percent of the students in government high schools drop out of schools. A major reason behind it is the lack of access to career options. There is no concept of career planning and students have almost nowhere to go for addressing their career related queries. We wanted to change this and so we formed Medhavi Foundation,” says Ayush Bansal, co-founder, Medhavi Foundation and iDream Career.
Medhavi foundation was started as a non-profit by Ayush and Pravesh Dudani in April 2012, in New Delhi. Pravesh is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and has been working in the education industry from the initial days of his career. He has co-founded GreenHat Ventures, worked with Educomp Solutions Ltd. as product head for K12 assessment space and later worked with IndiaCan Education Pvt. Ltd. as strategy consultant in the space of vocational education and distance education segment. Ayush has been working on various educational projects with non-profits while studying and even while he was working. After completing his MBA in finance from ICFAI Business School, he worked as an equity research analyst for 15 months. He got two other job offers and he quit his current job. But he didn’t take up either and started up Medhavi foundation instead.
As a pilot project, they worked with two government schools in the rural regions in Jharkand to understand the behavior of students when it comes to their career queries and career planning. They counseled them on various options available to pursue. They did another pilot project where they tried out career counseling on mobile. They launched a pan India toll free career counseling helpline number for students and received close to 3000 calls from 7 states in India.
They have been working on career assessment, planning and counseling for students in government schools. Recently, they have also come up with a paid product for private schools and individual students called iDreamCareer. Ayush tells us that they started it as a not for profit venture because of the faulty assumptions that governments would like to work with a non-profit organization more than a for profit one for projects like career planning, career assessments and mentoring/counseling. Currently they are in the process of registering a for-profit company. Over a period of time, they have realized the need for career planning and counseling present in the cities as well and with CBSE mandating every school to have career counseling options available for students, the market has broadened even more.
iDreamCareer and the need to productise a service
For the last two years they have also been working on iDreamCareer (iDC). It is an online career assessment, developed with the help of Indian psychologist to assess student's interest, personality & aptitude. The 18 page iDC customized career report is aimed to help students to assess themselves and get to know the right career fit based on their capabilities, interest and personality traits.
“Our assessment tool has been tested on 5,000 students. What differentiates us from any other career assessment company is that we are taking care of the Indian context when it comes to assessments. Most of the assessments that are currently present in the market are replicas of the ones used in the U.S.A or Europe. These portals define skill sets required for different careers according to the western context. The skill sets differ because of the cultural and industry differences,” says Ayush.
They have defined 21 career clusters based on Indian demography, have included 250 professions in their lists, researched on the skill sets required for different careers and then developed the assessments. Students can also schedule 1-on-1 career mentoring sessions. They were selling it through their online portal and also on other e-commerce portals for sometime like other players in the market and have now come with a physical iDC kit.
The reason behind selling a product in the form of iDC kit instead of only offering a service was the Indian consumer behavior. Ayush shares, “This model of selling online didn’t work for us. We saw that e-commerce in the education space, especially for services like career assessment and counseling has not scaled up. When Indian parents are paying say Rs. 1000 for something, they have this perception of getting something in their hands. They prefer having something tangible and physical rather than paying for an assessment online and getting a report. We tweaked our business a little bit and started giving a product instead of just a service. The offering will deliver the same value, assessments and career mentoring sessions over phone. It includes a book of 15 offbeat career options, DVD on career videos, a coupon card which lets a student take iDC Career Assessment & schedule two telephonic mentoring sessions with expert career mentors.”
Selling career services to Indian schools
They are selling this product on offline platforms via private career counselors, schools, Crossword, Landmark, Oxford Book Stores etc. & online platforms like Infibeam and Skoolshop. Schools also have a high demand of career counseling training because of the CBSE mandate but selling a product to Indian schools is not a cakewalk. Ayush says, “Any smart class product directly impacts school’s delivery in academics but career planning service doesn’t. They don’t see an immediate and tangible academic outcome. We are conducting seminars in the schools and selling it to students there and creating awareness about our product.”
They are holding training sessions to train teachers to become career counselors. These career counselors in schools can prescribe this kit to the students in the mentoring sessions if they want. Private career counselors have ordered around 200 of iDC’s kits in the last 2 weeks and they are pretty positive about cracking big deals with schools in the coming year.
Multiple Nature is another startup which offers career assessment and planning services to students. For working professionals, there is SkillWiz in the market which is a career assessment firm focusing on functional skill assessments, analytics and data-driven learning techniques.