The Indian online education sector will touch USD 40 billion by 2017. A report by IBEF suggests that India is targeting to create 500 million skilled workers by 2022. The FDI flow in the sector has been close to USD 1071.15 million between April 2000 and January 2015. Hoping to bring in change to the sector is Jaipur-based edutech startup Srjna.
In order to ensure that students from Classes I to X retain their creativity, Srjna has created over 200 economical, feasible, innovative and portable subject-learning models for schools. The models are all based on an experiential learning approach.
It is the brainchild of four people – Sharad Bansal, Om Prakash, Kapil Arya and Vivek Pathak. Vivek met Sharad and Om at a fest in their college at IIT Delhi, after which he stayed in touch. He then went ahead to do an MBA programme at XLRI, Jamshedpur. It was during this time that Vivek realised the quality of school education wasn’t up to the mark.
After discussing this with Sharad and Om, the trio began to develop models along the lines of the curriculum and piloted them in a few schools. Now, there are five full-time employees and over 15 interns in the startup.
Vivek explains, “To make this experiential learning affordable and scalable to all the schools, we are developing simulations on which students can practice anytime from anywhere on mobile/tab/web platforms.” Apart from that, the team is also developing an assessment platform with advanced analytics.
Through this platform, teachers can go online, create their own tests by choosing different parameters on which they want analytics, generate tests and see the results with advance analytics in a user-friendly graphical format. Students can receive content and career-oriented consultancy based on their track record.
In the past ten months Srjna has taken the mentorship of several individuals from IIT, IIM and XLRI. They’ve reached out to about 30,000 students.
Chintan Bakshi, Chief Operating Officer of Startup Oasis, which is incubating the startup, says, “Srjna is filling a very important gap in school education – that of enabling experiential learning where students can actually see and feel concepts through physical models, rather than seeing them on a blackboard or a smart screen.”
Traction and growth
Currently, Srjna is associated with Maharani Gayatri Devi School and The Palace School in Jaipur. It also has been part of top 20 startups selected (out of 1913) in CIIE-Pune Based Accelerator Program of ‘Innovate for Digital India Challenge’, an initiative by Government of India.
It has been ranked second in ‘Top 6 innovator award’ (Trending Startups) by IIT Delhi Alumni Association, among the top 10 education startups in StartEdu 1A by Unitus Seed Funds, has bagged first prize in ‘Tech4Raj’ by TIE Rajasthan & Startup Oasis. It has also won Rs 1,00,000 in Seed Money Competition by Venture Lab- Thapar. REI (Rajasthan Education initiative, Rajasthan) had validated and recommended the project for government schools on a pilot basis.
Building the team
“We provide a multi-discipline exposure to our team. For example, software developers sometimes market their product or marketing guys sometimes try their hand at content development. Even among the co-founders, while everyone has their own specialty and responsibility, we keep shifting roles to develop everyone’s skills,” says Vivek
At Srjna, the team follows an across-the-domain, horizontal work culture than a multiple hierarchy from top to bottom. “We celebrate small successes and never forget to celebrate with our team after each win,” adds Vivek.
Funding and future plans
Srjna has also received an investment of USD 65,000 from RAIN (Rajasthan Angel Investors Network) and Individual Angel Investors. Their investors include-
Puneet Mittal (CEO, Pratham Software, one of the top IT companies in Rajasthan),
Rajneesh Bhandari (President, TIE Rajasthan), Mahavir Pratap Sharma (President, RAIN) with three other RAIN members and two independent angels.
“We shall use the funding raised for development of more models, content integration, business development and expansion”, says Sharad, Co-founder, Srjna.
The team plans to expand to other cities of Rajasthan, Delhi-NCR and reach 50,000 students in next six months. It is also launching its assessment platform by the first week of October, to bring more teachers/students on online platforms and use high-level analytics to provide filtered experiential learning content.