IIT-BHU graduate serial entrepreneur goes back to school with SchoolMitraNeha Jain
SchoolMitra offers a SaaS-based school administration solution, helps connect with parents.
Abhishek Kumar is no stranger to starting ventures. The electronics engineer from IIT BHU started his entrepreneurial journey in April 2012 with Career and Me, which conducted career awareness workshops, sessions and counselling. Parallelly, he started an e-commerce portal for handloom products benarasisarees.com.
Sailing in two boats, however, did not work for Abhishek and both ventures shut shop in 2013.
“Career and Me was not scalable, and BenarasiSarees was facing issues of delays in delivery and sarees getting damaged in transit, thereby eroding consumer trust,” says Abhishek.
With learnings from Career and Me, Abhishek started SchoolMitra in 2013.
“Due to Career and Me, I started interacting with school authorities and directors and principals. In due course, I recognised the pain - lack of a good web-based School Management System. Hence I started SchoolMitra.”
SchoolMitra is a cloud-based product that helps a school integrate its management system. It has offerings such as school enterprise resource planning, a communication module, analytical reporting, and even an android app for parents.
Abhishek’s friends Gurpreet Singh Narula and Vivek Kumar are co-founders of SchoolMitra. Gurpreet and Vivek had also worked with Abhishek in his earlier ventures.
The product helps schools organise their data on student records, enterprise resource planning modules like examinations, fees, library-management, analytical reporting and helps parents stay informed about their child’s progress.
How does the product work?
Schools can manage their day-to-day activities using SchoolMitra, and the software keeps a track of admissions, attendance, communication with parents, generation of report cards, fee collection and other school administration works. Various modules have been integrated under a single platform.
The SchoolMitra mobile application is available on Android Play Store with features wherein parents receive notifications of all updates from school, view attendance, marks, school calendar, and bulletin board among other things of their wards. Parents can also send feedback to the school using the app. The IOS version of the application is currently unavailable.
The SchoolMitra team provides training to school authorities to use the product. It also provides extensive online and offline support to ensure a smooth running of the software.
Over 250 schools with 1.5 lakh students in Tier-II and Tier-III cities currently use SchoolMitra. It has so far delivered over 10 million personalised messages to parents and is used across boards like CBSE, ICSE and State Board Schools. SchoolMitra is based in Varanasi and has a presence in Gurugram, Dehradun and Siliguri.
Talking about the challenges of setting up and scale, Abhishek says starting in a Tier-II city was the biggest. “In the early days, persuading schools to use an online product was difficult. We gained trust by offering them to use the demo of the product for a month or two. Customising the same for their requirements helped us,” says Abhishek.
As the offering is a SaaS product, it follows a per student per year pricing model. It currently charges around Rs 200 per student per year, but the same also depends on the customization schools seek. The company’s annual growth rate is around 300 percent. SchoolMitra has a 32 member team.
The education sector in India is pegged at a whopping $100 billion, of which school education contributes 38.1 percent. Given the size of the market, there are numerous startups jostling for space in this segment, offering a multitude of solutions addressing different requirements and pain-points.
Some other products include Applane, ClockErp, Fedena, Go E School, and SchoolSAAS, among others.
Abhishek says, “Our customer-centric approach has been the one thing which sets us apart from our competitors. We are focussed on tier II and III cities, as there are fewer players when compared to cities.”
Bootstrapped for the first four years, School Mitra raised a seed round in 2017 from IEIF (India Educational Investment Fund; Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is an LP in IEIF) and Ola’s Pranay Jivrajka.
In future, SchoolMitra is looking to be a category leader, and evolve its product with a strong focus on technology, along with growth and expansion to more cities.