A radio ad says if you're child isn't doing well at school, it's best to help her with private online coaching. Another online platform claims to be one of the best in video courses and training. Edutech is a booming industry in India. With more people getting access to the Internet, this industry is showing a huge potential with a growth rate of eight percent a year. Players like Tutorvista, WizIq, Coursera, Skill Up India and Edureka are some of the top organisations which are already in place. Cakart is the new addition to the list.
Ideated by Puru Mishra, the Founder of Suphalaam, Cakart was started in an interesting way. Since 2011, Suphalaam had been providing e-learning technology to many education players across India, using the technology clients used to create and sell video courses to the students.
In 2013, an established education player in Mumbai bought Suphalam's technology and created excellent video courses with the help of the top faculties, but surprisingly they did not sell a single product. When Puru tried to figure out what could have gone wrong, he found out that the team was afraid that the new products may actually eat into their existing business of classroom program. As a result they had decided to wait.
When Puru and his team realised their dilemma, they approached them with a different business model. They offered to sell their courses to the students of other parts of India and pay them a share of the revenue. Since they had little presence outside Mumbai, the company readily accepted the offer and thus Cakart was born. “When we started selling their products, many organisations started noticing us and offered to join," says Puru.
Using Suphalaam, Cakart switched to B2C business model from B2B and for that they hired an external consultant. Soon, they were running an online platform. The B2C model of business is inherently different from a B2B model, and the team had to unlearn many things as they went along.
“We distinctly remember our sales team spending disproportionate amount of time with each sale initially (which is often required in B2B) using the same old spreadsheet based customer management system that we had used in the past. In B2C, however, a similar approach was proving to be inefficient and counterproductive," adds Puru.
The student enquiries started to grow and the team was not prepared. Puru says that they decided to shed theit B2B skin, and started productising everything in order to scale up. An internal Enquiry Management System was set up in order to handle large number of enquirers. Order Management System was deployed. The team was expanded and customer service training sessions were conducted for skill development. This started helping them provide good customer experience.
Another challenge that the team faced was getting people to trust their brand; initially many students hesitated to place any orders for their online courses. “Cash-on-delivery was an option but we did not have deep pockets to afford the loss of margin. We were bootstrapping, each penny mattered. We decided to persevere and provide good customer experience. The top management took personal interest in the first five hundred sales. Connecting directly with customers not only helped the management to understand the customer needs better; it helped us to provide better customer service to students. Gradually, the trust deficit reduced. Students started referring us to their friends. Many started placing repeat orders," says Puru.
It has been 18 months since the launch of Cakart and it has over 180,000 signed students, more than 110 teachers and over 1000 products and courses. Cakart is run by Puru Mishra, Sunil Javaji, a gold medalist at NIT Trichy. They have worked with Agere Systems and Qualcomm Inc and Arun Kumar, a former employee of ST Microelectronics, Texas Instruments and ARM.
Puru opines that the materials for education, which are available offline are incomplete and fragmented. The students need help from different teachers for different subjects. They need to buy a number of books for a single subject and they often seek consultation of seniors and friends to have a comprehensive knowledge. Many academic needs of a student often remains unmet or even if they are met they take a lot of struggle costing a lot of time, money and energy. The current online market is also a mirror reflection of the offline market. The problems continue albeit in different form.
Thus, Cakart has been exclusively designed as a vertically integrated education platform that adapts to the specific needs of commerce students. The team wants to own the education timeline of a student by helping them at each stage of their education journey. This includes providing basic examination information, expert guidance, mentors, books, e-courses assessments, peer and expert feedback, platform for doubt clarification, and platform for getting internship and jobs.
Students can purchase courses and books from Cakart. The team shares a part of the revenue with the corresponding faculty or the publisher. As they keep adding more value at each stage in the career of a student, multiple points can be monetised.
The Edutech market is marked at USD three billion with over 14 million students joining year over year, this records a CAGR of 18 percent. “Our current focus is to establish a leadership position in the Indian online education market. We realize that our products will fit naturally in other emerging markets as well as in developed economies, however, at this stage we do not want to spread ourselves too thin across multiple territories or education segments," says Puru.
Talking about the future plan Puru mentions,