Test preparation platform OnlineTyari on Thursday announced that it has raised funds of rupees five crore from angel and VC investors, including 500 Startups, Mohandas Pai, Tandem Capital, Vikram Chachra of Eight Capital, and Aloke Bajpai, Co-founder and CEO of ixigo. The funding will be used for strengthening the team as well as expanding technology offerings for the product, the company said.
Going the mobile-only way, OnlineTyari acts as an online content aggregator, providing individuals with relevant material to prepare for job-oriented tests, including civil services, banking services, UPSC, GATE, and State government jobs.
Co-founder Vipin Agarwal says:
“OnlineTyari aims to contribute towards bringing literacy and livelihood to everyone. There are not even proper bookstores in the markets we function.”
Marching forward, OnlineTyari plans to allocate funds to expand its technology team by 80-100 individuals, taking its total team size to 150-200. At present, the team functions with 50 active members. According to Vipin, the reasons for the team expansion is to strengthen the company’s spread across 10 major vernacular languages in the next year, as well as look at personalisation of the product. Currently, the app only functions in Hindi and English.
The second major avenue for fund allocation is online marketing and campaigning. Until now, the firm claims to be working on just word-of-mouth publicity. If that holds true, then it seems to be holding an impressive track record. Having decent traction in the past one year, the firm has over 2.6 lakh daily active users across all platforms and has reached the two-million mark in app downloads. Further, the venture claims to have crossed a turnover of one million since inception and seen a growth rate of 35-55 per cent in terms of active users, month on month.
On how word-of-mouth alone helped crack the market, Vipin says,
“There was a huge latent market lying in front of us. We understood the psyche of our target audience well since we come from small towns ourselves. Today, people want to study in cohort to learn faster and word of mouth works wonders there. People ask each other the book or test paper they should use for reference. This is where gamification or rewarding individuals to get their friends to sign in worked for the platform.”
Co-founded by Vipin Agarwal and Bhola Ram Meena in August 2014, the platform also offers adaptive learning and analytics. This provides inputs for users to understand how they’ve proved themselves amongst the pool of registered users and sections they fell short in while providing suggestions on the course material they could use to improve. Currently, this sort of technology seems to be offered online only to users writing mock tests for IITs and IIMs.
Speaking on the funding, Vikram Chachra, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Eight Capital, says,
“The next 350 million users on the Internet would want to browse the web in their vernacular language. Thus, vernacular will be a major driver of growth moving forward. I feel that OnlineTyari has the potential to make it big in the segment of government examination which doesn’t seem to have an entity to defragment the market.”
Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education and ex-CFO, Infosys, who has invested in the firm, says:
“Online education is helping our students and young professionals participate and excel in the knowledge-driven economy. A vital component of this wave of access to information is to ensure that our languages are respected and catered to with considered attention. Students familiar with Indian languages must not feel marginalised, and it is imperative that they have access to the highest quality content in any language they choose. This is why I believe OnlineTyari is a platform with a purpose.”
Moving forward, a rather optimistic Vipin tells us that they plan to expand by 10 times their current size. On the user’s front, he says that they are looking at actively engaging 10-15 million users on the platform. Furthermore, they are also looking at bumping up their content partners from 35 to more than a 1,000, owing to vernacular verticals falling in place.
The edtech startup ecosystem seems to be creating its own buzz this year with online test prep startup Toppr raising Rs 65 crore for expansion in May; Bengaluru-based Vedantu raising USD five million from Accel Partners and Tiger Global Management; and Simplilearn digging into its third round of USD 15 million funding in April this year.
However, what seems strange is that although the education market of India is worth USD 100 billion annually, there still isn’t any ‘unicorn’ emerging in this space.
In an earlier interaction, Harish Iyer, Co-founder and CEO of Flinnt.com, answered this question. He says that since each student or user has a different need in the education field, the homogeneity of permutations and combinations has erupted a demand leading to a dearth of more products. He adds that with a steep growth in the segment now, the edtech startups have been able to meet the demand with investments still at a nascent stage.
Going forward, Shashank Pandey, Co-founder of Convegenius, believes that the future of an edtech startup will depend on personalisation and gamification, which is already being adopted by players in the segment.
With OnlineTyari doing the same as well as having the vernacular sword in its arsenal, it will be interesting to see if the venture disrupts the space in the coming few months.