At a time when words like data and privacy evoke visions of the controversy surrounding Cambridge Analytica, Rajasthan-based Bodhi AI is leveraging data collected from students to help them improve their exam scores.
At a glance
Startup: Bodhi AI
Founders: Prashant Pandey and Gourav Sanghai
Year it was founded: 2017
Where is it based: Jaipur
The problem it solves: Helping students improve performance in exams
Funding: Bootstrapped (also won few competitions to fund themselves)
School can be a difficult time for students, with multiple tests and examinations. While some students thrive under the constant pressure, what most seek is feedback that goes beyond what they get from their teachers so as to be able to improve their grades.
Rajasthan-based startup Bodhi AI addresses this very issue with its Artificial Intelligence-based score improvement platform.
Founders Prashant Pandey, 25, and Gourav Sanghai, 23, both engineers by qualification, were keen to startup after graduating. Prashant had taken a few Machine Learning courses at university, and thinking of areas he could apply his skills in, and Gourav had founded Bunkstation, which sold old books, while still in college.
How it started
Prashant initially tried applying Machine Learning to fields such as fitness, and the stock market, but his focus shifted when he got some data from a school and a college. Being a student himself, he was aware of the problems faced and hence sought to make relevant solutions.
Prashant says, “Once I had the idea, I started attending startup meets and other places. There I met Gourav and his team, who were working on a different startup. They were already experienced entrepreneurs. What I liked was they had big dreams. I think they too liked my idea, and we all knew something needs to be done in education sector, but we were still not sure about our target segment. We sat down together and came to the conclusion that institutes that help prepare for government jobs would be best benefitted from our product, and then we should expand into other verticals. We started our journey in August 2017.”
The startup is now an eight-member team, including the two founders, two data science experts, and four content developers.
How Bodhi AI works
“We prepare questions and give them to coaching institutes along with the platform. Teachers have a login id, and an account. Once they log in, they have the power and discretion to create separate question sets for different groups of students. They can also create customised tests for students,” says Prashant.
He adds students also need to create an account on the platform and once a test is completed, it generates the score online. Students will also get to know how peers and classmates have performed, and comparative time taken by peers.
After three to four tests, the Artificial Intelligence software begins to understand the learning pattern of each student and predicts future performance. It also recommends areas of improvement and course material to improve performance. Teachers can use this data to customise and personalise learning for students.
To prepare the tests, the startup has roped in third-party domain experts and pays Rs 15000 to Rs 20000 per month.
The platform is currently being used by coaching institutes that help students prepare for government examinations like SSC, Railways, IAS, defence academies, and colleges for aptitude training.
Prashant, said, “We had challenges in multiple departments of our startup. Some team members did not have an easy time convincing their family to be in a startup, but as time passed, we were finally able to convince their parents”.
He adds, “Selling and explaining our product to customers was also not easy as this was a new product in the market, but a lot of research, and deeply understanding the pain points made us solve this problem”.
Bodhi AI got its first client on November 15, 2017. “Since then, our growth has been amazing. We have got some of the biggest colleges from Rajasthan in our kitty. We have 12 institutes with 20,000 students,” says Prashant. The company charges an institute on a per student per month basis. On average, it charges Rs 250 per student per month.
Delving on how Bodhi AI differentiates from its competitors, Gourav says, “There are few competitors, but we are solving a different problem than them. While others provide quality content and tests, we are trying to solve the problem of generalised education. Every student comes from a different background and has different learning patterns. So, we try to find out their unique learning patterns through tests, and provide them tests and videos that will best help them”.
Talking about its funding, Prashant, said, “Currently, we are bootstrapped and have won some competitions to fund us. We are also incubated at Rajasthan iStart, Dept of Information Technology and have won the EduHack award.”
EduHack is a 24-hour hackathon that aims to give a unique platform to teachers, professors, lecturers, and educationists. iStart Rajasthan is the state government’s flagship initiative for startups and aims to foster innovation, create jobs and facilitate investment.
Bodhi AI plans to expand its course offerings and even foray into schools. “Our aim is to reach 5000 educational institutes in two years. Our vision is to provide a breakthrough improvement in student performance by bringing the student-teacher ratio from 40:1 to 1:1 through technology in coaching classes in India,” says Prashant.
It is also targeting Rs 8 lakh in revenue per month by this May. According to an estimate provided by Bodhi AI, the online test preparation sector is worth about Rs 40 billion and has seen a growth of 20 percent in the last half-decade. The company on its part is also looking to expand into other examination segments such as GATE, GMAT, and GRE.