Bootstrapped startup What After College seeks to answer every student's dilemma

6th Jul 2017
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The startup has tied up with institutions like IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Indore to help them better prepare students for their professional lives.

“What after college?” That's a question that baffles students as much as it scares them. And that's the question that Rishabh Mehta had been asking all these years while working with companies in the education and training domain. And if someone had to try coming up with an answer to that question, what better person than Rishabh himself.

And that's what Rishabh, 30, did when he founded What After College in April 2016. Having spent more than a decade creating and leading successful brands in the education and training sector, he was aware of the incapability of colleges to provide engaging activities to their students to prepare them for their professional lives. He proceeded to fill this gap with his startup. Says Rishabh,

“What After College partners with colleges and executes a series of engaging activities throughout the year ranging from professionally oriented seminars to fun infused cultural festivals.”

This bootstrapped startup has collaborated with institutes like IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, Banaras Hindu University, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Indore, Delhi Technological University, etc. and has earned more than Rs 1 crore in revenue in the last financial year.

Rishab Mehta, Founder, What After College
Rishabh Mehta, Founder, What After College.

Win-win for college and students

With its team of professionals and partners, What After College enables colleges to host student-oriented activities and generate organic promotion in return. This leads to more admissions for the college and better career preparedness for its students.

What after College has so far served more than one lakh students. “We differentiate ourselves from others by integrating online and offline activities and building a network of students, experts, mentors, community leaders, and college ambassadors in the process,” says Rishabh.

To help students extract more out of college life, What After College is planning to analyse the behaviour of students to develop in-demand products. The company now wants to serve the untapped market in tier II and III cities where there is a greater demand for skill enhancing initiatives.

What After College curates skill enhancing and engaging activities for students and allows experts, institutions, and brands to reach out to students. The activities encompass workshops, seminars, talk series, expert interviews, and other student focused activities that are conducted both online and offline. The startup not only caters to students and colleges but also helps brands in reaching out to the college-based audience.

Students get to interact with industry professionals through online channels where they confront their fears and ask questions regarding their careers. On the other hand, offline activities give students different opportunities to recognise and hone their skills for overall personality development.

What After College has tied up with 15 institutions and engages more than 20,000 students in different activities. According to Rishabh, around 50,000 students have subscribed to its website.

Event participation fees, event sponsorship, website advertising in form of banners, promotional content, constitute the revenue model of What After College. “We do not charge these institutions because right now we are focusing on increasing our tie-ups and creating trust among college stakeholders. We are only charging brands and students for the services they are availing,” says Rishabh.

The startup currently has a team of seven members and more than 2,000 campus ambassadors. It has more than 20 associate and freelance business developers in different cities across India.

Event organized by What after College
An event organised by What After College.

Happiness is when you get your first client

Rishabh studied engineering at Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Engineering and has an MBA from Symbiosis. He has worked with many education companies as a consultant and business adviser. Prior his latest venture What After College, Rishabh has been responsible for leading Kyrion Technologies, one of the leading companies in the training domain. All these came in handy when he started What After College, but there were challenges nonetheless.

Getting permission from colleges for organising activities and events throughout the year was the biggest challenge.

Narrating how he convinced the first educational institution, Rishabh says, “You must have seen in movies how a guy runs around with files to convince a corporate boss about his business proposal. Well that was me on the first day, armed with files. It nearly drained me out but eventually they were able to see the value in our business idea and decided to partner with us.”

Eventually it yielded results—the number of new admissions for colleges increased (which they always need). To organise the first event, Rishabh roped in IIT Delhi and approached the Electrical Engineering wing which was ready with its event—VORTEX.

The event turned out to be a success with the participation of a large number of students and industry professionals. It was inaugurated by Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodiya, a cherry on the cake, according to Rishabh.

Promoting brand awareness

Since Rishabh truly believes in an effective marketing plan, he has built a strong team that manages both online and offline promotions.

Moreover, a network of campus ambassadors across India helps the company have a secure footing in various colleges and reputed institutions. It also has an efficient team of freelance marketing associates to help generate business from colleges. Says Rishabh,

“Our social media platforms follow an automated sequence where every team, events, and activities get synchronised and shared with the target audience. Our website and Facebook page play a vital role in marketing because we target college-based audience and they are the most active age group on internet.”

The startup spends Rs 3-4 lakh per month for online activities and close to Rs 1 lakh for offline activities.

The road ahead

Going forward, the company aims to create a one-stop solution for advertisers and sponsors who want to reach out to students and colleges.

In 2016-17, What After College clocked revenues of Rs 1.2 crore and in the year 2017-18 (till now), it has earned Rs 20 lakh. For the next fiscal year, the minimum expected revenue is Rs 1.8 crore.

According to India Brand Equity Foundation, India holds a crucial place in the global education ecosystem. It has 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. The sector is currently pegged at $2 to 3 billion and is expected to touch $40 billion by 2017.

Capitalising on this market are a plethora of startups who target various niche problems. The list of prominent players in the market includes names like BYJU’s, Embibe, Simplilearn, Vedantu, Unacademy, flipClass, Prepathon, Talentedge, and Topper.

Website: What After College

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