The aspiration to contribute to the betterment of the Indian education system led Vijay Kantharia to give up a successful career in the US as a scientist and return to Surat to start Cerebroz Edutech.
When Vijay moved to the US as a scientist at the Stower Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri, he found himself spending a significant amount of time in front of the TV. One day, he pondered over the fact that viewers generally tend to change channels during adverts. This sparked the idea for a product which could benefit the education system.
Back in Surat in September 2015, Vijay developed a product named EduTree-TV Ad Replacer/Blocker, which can replace repeated TV ads with educational videos. Watching TV too much is generally considered bad for education, health, behaviour, personal and social life.
The EduTree contents, which are specially designed and curated by scientists, cover not only the K12 academic education but also include general knowledge and social educational content. EduTree is connected to a TV/set-top box through HDMI cable and with Cerebroz’s server through WiFi. During TV adverts, EduTree receives wireless signals from the server and switches to educational contents that are stored inside. Says Vijay,
It took several sleepless nights for me to decide and quit my research career in the US and return to India to start working on Cerebroz. EduTree can be used in place of an educational tablet and can also convert dumb TV to Smart TV.”
Building brick by brick
Vijay started with a seed capital of Rs 22 lakh derived from his personal savings and that of his family. He managed to get access to schools by organising events for the students.
Vijay who was educated at a government school in Surat, Gujarat, went on to complete his bachelor’s in Medical Technology from South Gujarat University and master’s from M.S. University of Baroda, Vadodara.
Cerebroz has so far received 956 orders from just six schools in Surat and is in talks with five more schools for closing the deal. EduTree comes at a cost of Rs 7,000 and the yearly educational content subscription costs Rs 2,000 per year.
The Surat-based company presently comprises six employees and will start operations in Vadodara by February. In the next three years, the startup aims to spread across India with a student base of one lakh and achieve revenues of Rs 100 crore. According to Vijay, the fiscal year 2017-18 will witness a student base of 10,000 and Rs 10 crore in revenue. He claims to be closing the first round of funding soon with Dubai-based investors
Video-based learning gaining edge
According to India Brand Equity Foundation, India holds a very crucial place in the global education ecosystem. It is estimated to have more than 1.4 million schools with 227 million students enrolled. When it comes to e-learning, India is considered second only to the US.
With video-based learning as one of its sub-segments, e-learning seems to have gained significant traction in the last few years. Kolkata-based interactive education platform Zeroinfy.com allows students to buy video lectures made by teachers. Last year, Zeroinfy had raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Calcutta Angels Network. Hassan (Karnataka)-based Ignus introduced tablet-based coaching, which records the classroom sessions of professors and displays the same in the tablets.
Bengaluru-based cloud solution provider LinkStreet uses video for learning and collaboration. It had raised an undisclosed amount in Series A funding led by Faering Capital India Evolving Fund.
Website: Cerebroz Edutech