Bengaluru-based edtech startup Vedantu, a platform for online and live one-on-one tutoring has today announced a fundraise of $5 million from Accel Partners and Tiger Global Management. The funding comes just six months after Vedantu launched in its current avatar, a pivot from their earlier model.
Started by four IITians, Vamsi Krishna, Pulkit Jain, Saurabh Saxena and Anand Prakash, Vedantu is the second venture by this founding team. Lakshya, their first startup launched in 2006, was a test preparation and training company which was acquired by a listed company, MTEducare in 2012.
What is Vedantu?
Vedantu is a platform that provides live online tutoring sessions for students from grade 6 to 12. Offerings range from monthly tuitions, IIT Foundation to preparation for exams like NTSE, PSA, KVPY, IMO & JEE Mains. It uses technology to bring together teachers and students to enable live learning between them. Students can get tutoring from a tutor of their choice and preference at a time of their preference. The technology consists of a custom built whiteboard, audio and video technology. Vedantu's focus is on live online 1-to-1 tutoring between a teacher and a student. In its essence, Vedantu wants to bring the offline tutoring experience online, only more personalized.
Teachers and students can rate each other after sessions. A backend team onboards teachers after assessing a live demo class from the teacher.
What is the vision behind Vedantu?
According to the founders, the current teaching system is "institutionalized and generalized." The team wants to democratize and personalize it. "The current system is teacher-centric and learning happens, predominantly, one-way. We want to change that," says Vamsi Krishna, CEO and co-founder.
By bringing in one-on-one learning, Vedantu aims to make teaching student-centric so that the student gets to decide the time and place for his learning. Unlike an offline setting, the student does not need to travel to an institution or tuition center; and the learning can happen at the student's pace.
The Vedantu differentiation
By bringing in technology, Vedantu is able to ensure the following:
Quality of teachers: The flexibility of taking classes from the comfort of their home and a time of their choice means that people who would otherwise not be able to take up teaching as a full-time profession are now open to spending 2-3 hours everyday on the platform.
Personalized teaching: This is the obvious benefit of the platform. The focus is on live one-to-one teaching. The student gets 100% individual attention. Unlike a crowded classroom where many students feel shy of asking doubts, on the platform the child is comfortable in doing so. This leads to better understanding and attention.
Time saved: The student saves on the commute time that she would otherwise have to spend in an offline setting.
Safety and security: Given that the learning takes place at home and under the supervision of a parent/guardian also ensures safety of the student.
Anytime/Anywhere learning: Both the student and the teacher can choose to interact at a time of their convenience and liking.
Parent feedback: The session is recorded for later use. Parents can choose to take a look at the session and be assured of their child's learning.
Current Traction and Tech
The platform was launched on October 26, 2014. According to Vamsi, in six months' time, the platform has enabled 5000+ hours of learning. He claims that Vedantu has over 100+ teachers ( from IITs, NITs, IISc, BITS etc.) active on their platform and over 1000+active student users from across 41 Indian cities. 60 per cent of the students on the platform are from Tier-1 cities, but they also have students from tier-2 & tier-3 cities like Gorakhpur and Guwahati.
In terms of the courses, currently the focus is on Maths & Science and English has just been launched. Currently, on the platform, students can choose between monthly tuitions (for grades 6-10); exam courses for grades 6-12. Students can also ask doubts on-demand and get instant answers from teachers.
The current system is optimized for broadband speeds. The system works with Audio and Video at connections of 1 Mbps and higher. The video is cut-off for speeds below 512 Kbps and the audio is cut-off for speeds below 100 Kbps (in which case the class moves to an integrated call-to-connect environment and the teaching-learning happens over call on a phone.)
Revenue model consists of a revenue share wherein the tutors are given 75-80 per cent of the hourly fee. The hourly rates range from Rs 150-250. There are incentives based on the number of hours a tutor puts in and their ratings.
What will they do with the funding?
“With the funding received, we want to create a system where a student can choose a suitable teacher in real time. We want to extend the experience to tablets and mobile form factor devices with scalability which can seamlessly run 100s of live learning sessions concurrently,” said Vamsi about the funding.
Vedantu wants to launch its mobile apps to make the experience more seamless. Vamsi noted that being the category creators they will have to brand and market the product as well - a part of the funding will be used as marketing budget. They would also work on increasing their offerings in terms of course, languages etc.
In an years' time the team at Vedantu believes that they can take the above mentioned numbers to 4X of where thet are today.
“We see huge potential for personalized online live tutoring in India. We know the Vedantu founders for a few years now and very impressed with their domain expertise in education combined with strong technology skills,” said Anand Daniel, Partner, Accel Partners about the funding.
Lee Fixel, Partner, Tiger Global Management added, "Vedantu is the early innovator in online tutoring and believe its LIVE online platform is uniquely positioned to become the leading, trusted provider of online tutoring services to the more than 250 million K-12 students in India."
According to 2014 numbers, almost 250 million kids were reported to be studying in K-12 grades in India schools in 2014. Out of these, 80 million kids study in private schools and a majority of them are taking supplementary education of some kind – coaching, personal tutoring, group tuitions etc. Tutoring is an $11B marketing growing at 11-12% Year-on-Year and is expected to grow to $16 billion by 2017.
According to Anand Daniel, Vedantu is their 'fastest' series A funding in any edtech company. "We look at the team, market, product and scale. Vedantu scores on all of these parameters," he added.
Competition in the sector includes online learning delivery players like TutorVista which has a major focus on the US demography. MeritNation and WizIQ are also in the similar space, oriented towards B2B. Then there are 'smart classroom' players like Educomp and iProf.
But according to Vamsi, their main competition is the offline tutoring space and it is that behavior that they are looking to disrupt.