How a CA dropout created a knowledge-sharing network for finance professionals at the age of 17
CAclubindia, an interactive online platform, leverages the power of community to provide its over 1.9 million members with networking and e-learning options.
In 1999, 17-year-old student Vivek Jain was juggling his under-graduation course and a professional degree in chartered accountancy. He felt the need for a network for professionals and started a Yahoo group for chartered accountants. It received such an overwhelming response that he soon launched a website, CAclubindia, which serves as an interactive platform for finance professionals and tax payers.
Managed under Interactive Media Private Limited, it has expanded to own a legal online community (www.LawyersClubindia.com) and an online management community (MBAclubindia.com).
Vivek, now 33 years old, says, “I envisioned the impact the site could create when we reached 2,00,000 members within a year of starting. I was going to appear for my CA finals but after seeing the response, I dropped out to fully concentrate on the site. I could see that the internet had the power with which we could touch and influence millions of lives.”
CAclubindia has over 1.9 million finance professionals on its member list currently. The group, including the lawyer and management clubs, and aims to touch the three-million member mark by mid-2018.
The company has a 30-member team and claims that the platform gets 1.5 lakh visitors daily and 1 crore page views in a month.
The website offers mobile applications in various categories such as GST, Income Tax, Companies Act, CA Students and CCI Online Coaching Apps. The GST App has been downloaded by over 4,00,000 users.
Interactive Media Private Limited ventured into the e-learning space by launching CCI Online Coaching and is distributing around 1,500 hours of e-learning content to the 35,000 students on board.
Vivek says, “We plunged into the education sector by introducing the advanced e-learning platform for finance professionals and students via CCI Online Coaching. It’s a completely asynchronous mode of learning where pre-recorded updated video lectures along with e-books and query handling features are provided to students. They can access this from anywhere and at any time, on any device. We make learning fun, flexible and personalised.”
The coaching includes test preparation and skill-based certification courses. On offer are online video-based tutorials for CA, CS, CMA, BCom and MCom courses.
Users can interact and engage via questions and answers on the platform. Professional profiles, articles, and news are also available.
On what sets them apart, Vivek says, “CCI with its potent reach of 1.5 lakh visitors daily seeks to create an intellectual and powerful community. It gives an opportunity to the finance professional to get in touch with the who's who of the finance world. It also aims to help them achieve professional excellence through interaction and sharing of new ideas and opinions.”
A one-stop solution
Vivek and a core team of three, Suraj Jain (34) as CTO, Ganesh Das (32) as Chief Product Head, and Praveen Sharma (30) as Marketing Head, handle operations.
The company claims to be profitable and has been growing at 40 percent in terms of the user base in the current year. Bootstrapped so far, they started generating revenues via advertisements. The client list includes KPMG, ACCA, CIMA, E&Y, Bajaj Fin-serve, Intuit and others.
The major part of their revenue comes from the e-learning venture where almost 35,000 users are already trained with an average ticket size of Rs 5,000 per subject.
Ad inventory sales also have a significant contribution; they prefer banking, finance, fin-ed and fin-tech companies to advertise on the platform. They also have strategic partnerships in fin-tech and legal-tech industries on revenue sharing models.
CAclubindia claims to be a one-stop solution for all finance professional requirements, be it books, events, jobs, skill- based certification courses and more.
How does it work?
Anyone can register on the platform for free and can create a profile to connect with peers in the industry. Members can post queries in the forum and Q&A modules; anyone is free to reply. Users can also read blogs and news on the platform.
Users can “follow” other members and specific topics of interest in the financial and legal domain.
All mobile applications are part of the main website’s ecosystem and content is channeled from one to the other.
Navigating the online market
The online education market in India currently stands at $247 million and is estimated to witness an 8x growth over the next five years to reach the $1.96 billion mark in 2021. This growth will be backed by a phenomenal rise in the paid-user base for online education in India, which is expected to grow from the current base of 1.57 million users to 9.5 million users in 2021 at a CAGR of 44 percent.
Quite a few players, including Quora and Reddit, have emerged in the knowledge-sharing domain in recent times.
Speaking of future plans, Vivek says, “We aim to bridge the gap between a common man [who has been dealing with any financial or legal matter] and a professional so that they can connect to serve their purpose.”
Going forward, Vivek’s aim is to create a combined professional community of 10 million-plus professionals in the finance and legal domains.