Edtech startup Vedantu has come out with an artificial intelligence-based technology platform where students are able to get personalised attention and tailor-made content in virtual online classes.
The idea of personalised teaching and lessons tailor-made for each student eludes most classrooms in India due to the sheer number of kids in each class. Teachers find it difficult to provide individual attention to students based on their aptitude and ability to grasp concepts, and there is always an unequal pattern of absorption and retention as a result.
But the importance of personalised education can no longer be denied. And with technology pervading the education sector, there has never been a better time to learn and learn well.
Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and big data have helped the sector identify the needs and gaps in the education system, and several startups in the space are addressing crucial needs of both students and educators.
Vamsi Krishna, Pulkit Jain, and Anand Prakash, who started edtech platform Vedantu in 2014 to provide students with an opportunity to learn the way they desire by providing personalised teaching, is using AI, ML and Big Data to refine its personalised teaching model.
The edtech startup has filed for three patents on its new technology platform.
Co-founder Anand says, “Education has always been a very subjective experience, and it is important to measure the services being delivered.”
Today, with one million-plus hours of live teaching every month, and 40,000 students in its fold, the startup has got considerable data to create a technology model that can measure the entire experience of teaching.
Vedantu’s AI-driven technology model is able to generate various insights during the live tutoring; the teaching methods and kinds of
content used, the engagement level of students, the corrective actions needed, and the outcome of the entire process are all captured to further analyse and course correct through ML capabilities.
The Bengaluru-based edtech startup provides live online tutoring to students of Classes VI to XII, as well as those preparing for medical and engineering entrance exams. Using emerging tech, the platform claims to work on a model where the entire learning and teaching process is engaging, effective, and result oriented.
Co-founder and CEO Vamsi says, “Our challenge was to create a learning experience that was far more superior than the offline classes so that our service matches the promise that we make.”
Before the launch of Vedantu, the founders had started an offline education tutorial venture called Lakshya. It was learnings from this experience that made them embark on a journey to make quality learning more accessible.
The edtech startup set out to bring sound teachers who concentrate on the individual needs of students.
Online tutorials mimic the offline class, except that there is no physical presence of teachers or students. However, Vedantu uses tech and insights it derives from its data to ensure the teacher is adopting the right teaching methods and, more importantly, that the students are able to grasp what is being taught.
Vedantu’s technology model captures the multiple data points where through the application of AI and ML, learning content is personalised for the students.
Vamsi says, “We created something called the engagement quotient for the teachers, which gives a complete 360-degree view of a tutor’s teaching methods, and what corrective steps need to be taken to make the entire process more engaging.”
The founders of the edtech startup say that other platforms in the education space are largely operating in the supplemental zone, while they remain focused on the primary zone.
Anand says, “In an offline world, we cannot capture all this but through this technology tool we can map the right student to the right teacher.”
Vedantu’s app has had 100,000 downloads so far. The company put great emphasis on individualised learning. For instance, if a student is unable to grasp a particular concept, the app will automatically flag relevant videos for further understanding, based on the analysis of the practice question papers.
The pricing structure of Vedantu for the students range from as low as Rs 50 going all the way up to Rs 1,000. This depends on the type of class, subject and the board the student has opted. For example, group classes could be as low as Rs 50-100 per hour.
The platform enables to identify the key learning challenges of each individual student on whether there is a need for more revision papers, video tutorials or further explanations from the teachers.
Vamsi adds, “One only hears about the top 50 rankers. What about the rest? Now with this platform, there is complete visibility for the teachers, students, and parents, to know whether there is a change or not.”
The founders of Vedantu are very clear that learning is an iterative and cyclical process where students have to learn in stages, and all of them have different grasping abilities. “Our systems will accompany the teacher, equip them, and also assist the child continuously,” says Pulkit.
Vedantu, secured $11 million of Series B funding in November last year, in a round led by Omidyar Network, which saw participation from existing investor Accel Partners. It will use these funds to expand the horizon of its technology product, which will give it a scalable option to enter newer territories.
Besides, it also plans to come out with a growth app, which will be targeted at the free users.
On competition, the founders of Vedantu are very clear that the education segment will never be a winner-takes-all market. In the edtech space, there are many players like BYJU’s, Educomp, and Toppr. “Our true competition is from the offline world,” says Vamsi, adding that any change towards the online methods requires a huge mindset change.
The online education sector in India is estimated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 52 percent to $1.96 billion by 2021, according to a joint study by Google and KPMG.
Vedantu, which was doing around 9,000-10,000 hours of live tutoring in December 2017, has now crossed more than 100,000 hours. Vamsi says the platform has seen 3X growth every year, and plans to maintain it in the near future both with its AI-driven technology model and the growth app.