Pariksha is an analytics driven, gamification modeled, adaptive testing and mastery learning based online exam preparation, practice and assessment platform.
Campus placements, written tests, interviews, they all add up to a testing time for students until they have a job offer in hand. Those who have been through the placement grind know what it takes to ace the routine – it certainly isn’t easy.
Amit Mehta, who was a student at Bangalore University, recalls a time when he wanted to work at a corporate way back in 2003. “I failed thrice before I learnt from experience how to answer interviewers,” says Amit, who works with a semi-conductor company now.
Back then, the job scenario was different; now, despite the many fields and options, jobs are harder to get due to automation. Even at placement tests and interviews, hiring managers look for skills that make the candidate a perfect fit for the job description from the start.
Looking at the situation on the ground, 4 students of IIT-Kanpur started Pariksha, a company to help prepare students for placement by aggregating knowledge from several universities.
Utkarsh Bagri, Rahul Ranjan, Deepak Choudhary and Saket Diwakar were in their third year, in 2013, when they started up. What worked for them was the fact that the five were inherently business geeks. Utkarsh and Deepak were wing-mates and were skilled in building online campus communities. Saket and Rahul soon joined them. Their first user base was from IIT Kanpur, and they began to help students preparing for JEE.
However, they decided to change track after interacting with some seniors.
Rahul Ranjan, Co-Founder of Pariksha, says, “Our seniors and batchmates were struggling to find a proper channel to prepare for placements. So we collaborated with the placement cell of IIT-Kanpur to roll out the initial version of the platform.”
Pariksha received an overwhelming response on the beta version as all senior students began to use the placement learning modules. Not surprisingly, the founders skipped going for their own placement and began to work full time on Pariksha.
The quick expansion
By the time they finished college, the founders had expanded considerably – they were in eight IITs in 2015, 60 colleges by 2016 and currently have a presence in 270 colleges, including IITs, NITs, BITS Pilani University and JNTU-A.
Rahul Ranjan says: “As we were going online, we provided Pariksha as a SaaS to coaching institutes as they lack basic technological infrastructure. Pariksha provides a student with actionable analytics to improve on weaknesses and provides teachers with technology to monitor the progress of students at once.”
Alongside they offer placement prep modules to final year students by signing a MoU with colleges.
User survey on Pariksha shows that close to 80 percent students prepare for competitive exams along with preparing for placements.
“This number increases as you move to colleges in tier-II tier-III cities due to lack of employment opportunities,” Ranjan says.
Insights from the module show that there is a significant gap between skill employers seek and the skill students graduate with. With AI and robotics coming in, jobs have become more skill-specific and system engineers are no longer sought after. Companies that earlier hired analyst profiles are now being more specific about what kind of skills they need in a candidate.
Pariksha’s business model
Learning from these insights, the founders launched Pariksha Prime, which helps a student to upskill for corporate opportunities and also prepares them for competitive exams.
Every student pays a monthly subscription fee and gets access to all the content on Pariksha.
A student can take courses on data science, front end and back end development along with coding interviews, corporate finance or IoT. They can also prepare for competitive exams like GATE and GMAT. The courses listed on Pariksha are acquired through partnership with institutes and other content creators.
The Prime option has 600 students, and the company provides them with personal assistance in every aspect of their career.
Pariksha also plans to include various courses for students of core branches like electrical and mechanical with time.
The company believes it can grow very fast because a student is ready to pay Rs 5,000 per month to prepare for placements. The market size, estimated in this manner, stands at $1.84 billion according to the company.
The major challenge is gaining the trust of the user, and gauging whether they see value addition from the platform or not.
“That’s why we have focused on basic but the most important aspects of one’s career such as resumes and projects. Pursuing courses online was also a challenge but with reducing data charges many more people are using online resources rather than offline to prepare themselves,” Ranjan says.
He says we are living in a time where technology is playing a major role in defining the lives of people. “In education, it is bound to redefine the way a student prepares,” Ranjan adds.
According to KPMG and Google India’s report on online education it is estimated that it will hit $1.96 billion by 2021, with paid users rising sixfold from 1.6 million now to 9.6 million.
Pariksha’s business compliments other edtech companies like Jigsaw, Simplilearn and Edureka.
Gaurav Vohra, Co-Founder of Jigsaw Academy, believes that reskilling is the need of the hour and “students have to be prepared for specific skill sets.”
Education is clearly one of the biggest opportunities, but this edtech company born in a college believes it can help students crack the Pariksha to get their first job!