Making sense of math for students, Ganesh Pai’s startup marries tech with the zeal to learnTausif Alam
The platform provides video-based content to help student with their maths preparations for K-12 and other examinations.
Four years ago, Ganesh Gopal Pai, an engineering graduate from Mumbai University, who worked with Crisil Ltd then, decided to quit his job to prepare for an MBA entrance. While doing so, Ganesh joined a company called Tutor Vista as a math teacher to make some money on the sidelines.
In his part-time job, Ganesh used to conduct live online classes in maths for students from the US. This made him realise the need for similar ways of imparting education in the Indian market. His research showed that there were very few edtech startups producing high quality online content for students in the country.
Learning over memorising
Thirty-year-old Ganesh saw a huge supply and demand gap in the edtech segment in the country, and this convinced him about the need to start an edtech portal that will help fill the gap in the market and offer high quality educational content to students.
In December 2013, drawing on the philosophy of “Don’t memorise, know more”, he launched Dontmemorise.com, a video content platform to teach maths to students from grades six to eight. Ganesh, Founder and CEO of the Mumbai-based company, says,
“I launched the platform with four main objectives in mind. First, we wanted to keep the core content always free of cost. The second objective was to bridge the gap between theory and application. Third, we aimed to keep it relevant to the needs of students; and for that, we built the content based on the CBSE syllabus. The last objective was to make a simple user interface for our consumers.”
Evolution of Dontmemorise
In the first two years, Ganesh spent around Rs 8 lakh, which went mainly into product building. During those years, the team size was as small as four. Today, 15 people work for the startup.
During the second half of 2014, Dontmemorise started offering video content to help with maths preparation for examinations such as GMAT, GRE, SAT and for Bank POs.
In January 2015, the platform launched its Youtube channel, and in September that year, it also uploaded its maths course on online learning platform Udemy.
Ganesh says that response on both platforms was highly positive, especially on the YouTube channel, which also helped in generating organic visitors on the main website. Both the platforms, Udemy and YouTube, served as a marketplace for Dontmemorise.
Ganesh has been bootstrapping the platform from the beginning as far as investments go. On the revenue side, he follows a freemium model for students while doing B2B deals with clients.
The content available on the platform is completely free for students. At the moment, the startup makes money from B2B deals, through licensing of content to clients. It also has another platform called edu.dontmemorise.com, which routes its content to students through a third party.
The clients that are using licenses of the platform are Hindustan Times Learning Centres, Adani Foundation Schools and Convegenius, an edutech platform.
When asked about the current revenue, Ganesh refused to share any numbers. He, however, added that he will be able to break even by next year.
Commenting on the revenue model, experts say that content selling is a difficult business, and therefore a large number of edtech platforms have adopted freemium models. Now, they are doing either B2B deals or offering some extra features on free products and charging for them. If the platform successfully makes its place amidst content consumers and becomes popular, it will be able to draw more B2B deals and sustain business.
According to Ganesh, Dontmemorise has a viewership in many parts of the world. However, its main market is still India, which constitutes 50 percent of the total users. Of the remaining half, 20 percent are from the US, while the rest are from the UK, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Ganesh says that he has around 30,000 subscribers on the website. In the past three years, over one million students have used the platform one way or the other.
He now aims to create content for science students as well, and is working to produce such content for a global audience. Besides setting his sights on a global expansion, he is planning to offer the content in two other languages - Hindi and Marathi.
For his expansion plans, Ganesh is actively looking to raise funding by the second half of this year. He says that he wants to take the subscriptions to around 60,000 before reaching out to investors.
Edtech, a crowded market
A report released by RedSeer Consulting in 2016 stated that the market size of the online supplemental education opportunity in India was expected to touch $2.5 billion by the yearend, and was poised to grow at 15 percent over the next three years.
According to the report, the addressable demographic of online supplemental education in the country was 20 million students in classes VI to XII. These are the students who would be willing to go online to access supplemental education.
In this market, a large number of players are catering to the considerable demand for online education in both K-12 and test preparation. Byju’s, Topper Learning, Simplilearn, and Prepathon, to name a few, are some of the dominant names in the edtech category. These players have also raised large sums in funding over the past few years.
In 2014, around 44 players raised a total of $96 million in the education category. The biggest investment was raised by a conventional publisher, S. Chand, which closed a $27 million funding round led by IFC and Everstone Capital.
In 2016, investors’ interest in the edtech segment further increased, which led to the funding of more players. Last year, around 58 education startups collectively raised investments of over $210 million. The top five among them were Byju’s ($125 million), EduPristine ($10 million), Avanti Learning ($5 million), CueMath ($40 million), and Simplilearn ($30 million).
According to experts, the edutech segment is evolving, and will be a driving force to bring about a change in India's educational system.