USF Co-founder Will Poole and serial entrepreneur Pradeep Singh are addressing the asymmetry of tutorial market with Vidyanext
With more and more students inclining towards tutorial systems and seeking a way out of their homework queries, the demand for one-on-one teachers and tech-enabled teacher is gaining pace. According to an Industry report, India will require at least six million more teachers by 2020.
The thriving digital education industry and influence of private tuitions together came as an opportunity in the lap of Pradeep Singh. Founded by Pradeep and Will Poole in 2009, Bengaluru-based Vidyanext amalgamates technology and tutors to serve students from class 4 to 11 in CBSE, ICSE, State boards for Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Both tutors and students are equipped with tablet devices and the Vidyanext learning makes the tutoring experience better.
Students are provided a tablet device that contains course content mapped to their school curriculum. Tutors are also provided with a tablet equipped with reporting and collaboration tools that enable them to provide personalised attention to each student. Parents use a smartphone app that helps them track student progress,” says 59-years-old Pradeep.
Pradeep is a BTech from IIT Delhi and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Prior to Vidyanext, former Microsoft employee Pradeep floated two ventures – Aditi Technologies, a services company and Talisma, an enterprise CRM company. He later sold both the ventures. Will is a serial entrepreneur and VC investor. He is the Managing Partner and Co-founder of Unitus Seed Fund, Capria Ventures, and Co-founder of Vidyanext.
An idea from Microsoft-funded project
Vidyanext emerged from the closure of a Microsoft-funded project. In 2008, Microsoft started building a technology for online test preparation suppliers and had outsourced the development of the technology to Aditi Technologies (Pradeep’s previous venture). Will was then heading the Unlimited Potential group at Microsoft. Unfortunately, Microsoft cancelled the project. But the idea did not lose its existence and was independently taken forward by Pradeep and Will in the form of Vidyanext.
Since then we have shifted strategy, developed new generations of technology, and started providing services under the Vidyanext brand name. The first version of the Vidyanext software was used by IIT/medical test prep companies like Aakash Institute and Brilliant Academy, who partnered with us to offer digital courses to their students. Today, Vidyanext tutors are spread across every neighborhood in Bengaluru,” says Pradeep.
The two founders have so far invested $5 million in the company. In the last three years, Vidyanext has served more than 1,000 students. Currently, Vidyanext has more than 500 certified home-based tutors in Bengaluru and 35 learning centres – 30 in Bengaluru and five in Gurgaon.
Pradeep says, “We select tutors based on their past experience, subject knowledge, parent references, and learning environment at their homes where tuitions are being held. After selection, tutors participate in an initial training programme, which is then followed by an ongoing community building exercise through the year.”
Various aspects of learning
Vidyanext learning system focuses on equipping tutors with the right technology, process, and data to deliver efficient learning to students. Both Pradeep and Will believe that building a strong chain of learning elements can help students excel in all the subjects.
Vidyanext Tutor Network helps parents find hand-picked and trained tutors in their vicinity using various selection criteria. Tech-enabled tutors conduct small interactive classes by levering the advanced learning technology in the form of tools, processes, and data.
Vidyanext companion is a complete solution for students implemented on their Android devices. They use it in class with tutors as well as at home. Vidyanext videos help students visualise each concept and gain an in-depth understanding of a particular subject. Vidyanext worksheet allows tutors to choose the right problems for each child depending on where they stand. Vidyanext Memory Buddy automates scheduling of highly visual flashcards and quizzes so that students don’t forget. Vidyabot is a personal learning assistant tool that provides daily guidance to students through a conversational interface. Vidyanext Rewards is a motivational tool for students, and Vidyanext in Touch is a smartphone app for parents, which allows parents to track progress and stay involved in helping their child succeed.
With its physical presence in both Bengaluru and Gurgaon, Vidyanext has more than 50 full-time employees in technology, pedagogy, content, and operations teams.
The registration fee of Vidyanext is in the range of Rs 1500–3000 based on the number of subjects. Students also pay a monthly fee to the tutor (each tutor sets their own tuition fee based on their experience and other factors) from which a certain amount goes to Vidyanext as a commission.
The poor quality of education in schools and colleges has given a fillip to the tutorial business in India in the past few years. A report by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) revealed that 20 per cent of Indians pursuing degree courses and 13 per cent pursuing post-graduate courses and above avail private tuition. According to various resources, tutoring as an industry is estimated to be $11 billion and is growing at 11-12 per cent YoY and is expected to touch $16 billion by 2017.
Education technology companies like Vedantu, Flipclass, Lynda, MyPrivate Tutor India, CBSE Online Tutorial, Bharat tutors have already transformed the traditional tutorial market. Vidyanext is trying to find a breathing space in this over crowded market by building specific tools to address all the learning disabilities and disorders.
Vidyanext expects to expand the tutor network to more than 1000 tutors with 3,000–5000 students by the end of this year. By 2016-17, Vidyanext expects to drive Rs 5–10 crore of total gross revenue from tutorial fees and Rs 2.5–3 crore from registration, tutors, and centres.