The education sector in India is booming with aspiring students making sure they leave no stone unturned when it comes to researching prospective colleges, and competitive exams etc. A few years ago, finding authentic information was not an easy task. However, Collegedunia, founded by Sahil Chalana, seems to have brought in a change that aims to make the lives of students easier. The company has annnounced a fund raise of INR 1 crore from Gaadi.com’s CEO Umang Kumar, affiliate marketing company 3.14 Digital, and a few undisclosed investors. Here's a look at their journey:
Starting up, failing, and pivoting
Sahil Chalana graduated from BITS Pilani in 2010 and started an education forms company titled getmyform.in that, unfortunately did not work out so he and his Co-founder parted ways. It was one of the toughest experiences of Sahil’s life which, he says, taught him the value of persistence.
He had, meanwhile, noticed a huge gap in the data being catered and the quality of information being sought by college aspirants in the pre-admission session. He and his team pivoted on their existing model and worked on lead generation for educational institutes and scaled the company.
The notifications and announcements from colleges today are scattered, and students are on the lookout for in-depth information such as detailed fee structure, scholarships available, cut offs, the admission process, eligibility and even co-curricular facilities. As a classifieds portal, they focused on small details like amenities, fests, hostels; which are important for students while taking college related decisions.
In the next three years, they gained a lot of experience in generating leads for MBA, engineering, and medical institutes. In May 2014, they felt that there was a need for a quality product in the education space so they launched Collegedunia.
Sahil felt that though there were many other players like Pagalguy.com, Jagranjosh, Careers360, which were doing well in niche markets, nobody had really focused on curating the quantity and quality of content for every college.
“We go at great lengths to get our users the most detailed information which differentiates us from our competitors. One of the biggest learning I had from all this was that ventures fail but people who persist don’t,” says Sahil.
On team building
The overall experiential graph of the startup is moving upward, in terms of office, team size, style of working, pace of working. They have grown from a small team of five to 50 and have shifted to a bigger office at Prashant Vihar, New Delhi. With the increased staff the team members feel that they have become more systematic in terms of management and have been lucky because their team built itself and adapted to the system. They have a team of 20 for content curating and editing, 17 for customer support, five handling technology, and four into marketing. The plan is to hire more people for marketing and design.
On growth metrics
Collegedunia has information about over 15,000 colleges and exams like CAT, MAT, GMAT, GATE, etc. With external funds coming in, they are planning to expand their reach to 30,000 colleges and cover all the entrance exams by the end of this year.
The startup now gets more than one lakh visitors per month which is less in comparison to their competitors, but about 40 per cent of their traffic is direct, which they feel is higher in comparison with other players.
On revenue model
The basic listings which has information about college, fees, hostels, admission information etc. is free for colleges and there are paid features where colleges and institutes can advertise, which helps increase the visibility of their listings across the website.
Apart from this, they also work on Cost Per Lead(CPL), where they share an aspirant’s information with colleges. They also have a mechanism for students to apply to those colleges, and on each application to that college, they receive a CPL from the college authorities.
New updates and future plans
Collegedunia recently launched an exam feature where they notify aspirants about entrance exams deadlines, provide free sample papers, tips, counselling and result advice. Right now the feature is in beta. They are also planning to launch new features such as institute listings, personalized notifications, authentic alumni advice talks and college reviews. Right in the first month of launch, they expect to reach one lakh unique visitors. They are growing at 20 per cent month on month in terms of visitors and are planning to touch the milestone of one million visitors per month by April 2015.