Startup

In one year, Mumbai-based Callido Learning helped 2,500 students develop cognitive skills

Aparajita Choudhury
24th Aug 2016
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Sriram Subramanian, Madhu Agrawal and Chinmaya Kulkarni all had one thing in common: they had switched multiple careers by the age of 25. Sriram met Madhu while studying at Dhirubhai Ambani International School, and Chinmaya, while the two were at Brown University for their undergraduate degree.

What the three realised was the transferable skills they picked up from their education led them to switch between industries and explore new opportunities. It is a fact that the right education system can prepare students to face unpredictability, especially in the professional realm.

(L-R) Sriram Subramanian, Madhu Agrawal and Chinmaya Kulkarni
(L-R) Sriram Subramanian, Madhu Agrawal and Chinmaya Kulkarni

When the trio interacted with educators in both India and overseas, they realised the need of helping students develop core skills like analytical thinking, problem-solving, research and information handling and effective communication. Sriram says,

These skills have been identified by Harvard University as the key skills for students to succeed in the world they live in today. It is already a big movement in the USA and Australia, called '21st century skills'.

To bring the dynamics of the similar movement in India, the trio came up with the idea of Callido Learning in 2015 in Mumbai. Callido Learning conceptualises, designs, creates and delivers programmes that measure and develop students’ cognitive abilities.

Integration with school curriculum

The programme is run alongside the school’s curriculum and uses a project-based learning methodology centred on real-world issues to help students develop critical and analytical thinking, research, problem-solving and communication skills. The programme also involves the teacher community transforming the learner experience entirely through detailed educator resources on skills-based teaching.

The resources of Callido Learning are used for assessing students’ career-readiness, thereby helping them develop skills to succeed in the recruitment process. Sriram emphasised that the solutions are tailored to meet individual student’s requirement. This assessment is free to take for all students at www.careerscore.in.

“We are now beginning to work with companies to ease their hiring process, since new recruits take a long time to be trained up due to the lack of these real-world skills. Our resources are endorsed by Dr. Lina Fruzzetti, a distinguished professor at Brown University. All students who successfully complete our course get a certificate from Dr. Fruzzetti,” says Sriram, an alumnus of Brown University, Imperial College London and University College London. He has worked in US politics, transportation modelling and policy, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, UK, as a tax advisor.

The other founder, Madhu, has graduated with honours in Law and Business from Warwick University. An alumnus of Brown University, Chinmaya specialises in the study and modelling of complex systems.

Getting schools on board

Primarily, the trio faced difficulties while building capabilities in three areas- education, technology in education and student learning experiences. A difficult task was explaining the importance of skills like logical thinking, decision-making, problem-solving, information skills and communication in an environment where the focus is only on exams results.

Demonstrating the technology-led skills and persuading the educational institutions to deploy the same required a lot of leg-work for them. The struggle came to an end when they cracked the first educational institution- United World College, Pune.

Every student undergoes a proprietary assessment that measures the various skills for students aged 14-18. At present, the startup is working with over 20 schools in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhopal, Jaipur, NCR and Indonesia with a student enrollment of more than 2,500. The charge for each student per year is between Rs. 3,000 to 15,000.

Apart from schools, 38 colleges are testing their technology (which is free of cost) but are yet implement the programmes. According to Sriram, they will charge Rs 1,500-5,000 per student in colleges post execution of the programme.

Penetration into international market

Considering the organic queries from schools outside India, Callido Learning took one step forward to expand into these markets by getting into an exclusive distributorship. It has established a partner network in NCR (in India), Dubai, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore. Globally, they are expanding through the franchise model.

The partner network is a group of experienced individuals with domain knowledge and networks in their local markets. They are helping us distribute and support on the ground training in these markets. We are also looking into appropriate channels to enter Australia, Canada, rest of USA, Philippines and the UK,” says Sriram.

According to India Brand Equity Foundation, India holds a very crucial place in global education, with more than 1.4 million schools and 227 million students enrolled. When it comes to e-learning, India is considered the second largest market after US.

Startups in the edtech space are betting big not only in finding the best institutions, but also making quality education accessible in Tier II and III cities. Vedantu, Simplilearn, Toppr, Iprof, Talentedge, and embibe.com are some of the names one would likely take to leverage the education methods and technologies like real-time book updates, online tutoring, edutainment, and online test preparation.

The edtech startup space has witnessed a couple of investments in the past few months. Toppr raised Rs 65 crore for expansion in May, Bengaluru-based Vedantu raised $5 million from Accel Partners and Tiger Global Management, and Simplilearn raised $15 million in its third round of funding in April this year.

Website: Callido Learning

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