[Startup Bharat] This 16-year-old boy from Surat has developed an edtech platform for ‘Gujju Students’
As children, our day would mostly go by attending school, playing, or just lazing around. For most of us, running a business was the last thing on our mind at that age. But for Hitarth Sheth, a student of Bhulka Bhavan School in Surat, Gujarat, the spirit of entrepreneurship caught up in an early age.
As a Class 9 student, he realised that many of his peers would go online looking for study materials for their Board exams, and would land on multiple websites. To end the chaos, they would scramble around and prepare notes from different websites.
To ease their burden, Hitarth came up with a one stop-solution to solve the problem, and founded Gujju Student in September 2017, when he was just 15-years-old.
Gujju Student is an edtech platform for students of the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSEB). The platform has textbooks, videos, and MCQs from classes one to 12 of the latest GSEB syllabus. The app was also a winner at Global Entrepreneurship Week, Surat, 2017, under the education category.
Speaking about the app, 15-year-old Meet S, a student of Bhulka Bhavan, says:
“The app comes handy while I’m in a transit, and the videos are engaging as well. The notes were also helpful while I was preparing for my Boards.”
“When I was in Class 9, as a Gujarati Medium student, I didn’t have many online learning resources,” says Hitarth.
Every time he missed school, he would face difficulty requesting teachers for extra sessions. Hence, Hitarth started looking for study materials on government websites.
A candidate and panellist of Ashoka India’s Youth Venture Programme, Hitarth would often travel to Bengaluru, and found it difficult to keep up with the lessons.
After realising the difficulty involved, he says: “Once I found all the relevant materials, I got them sorted in a place and created a reference app.”
Once the application started growing, Hitarth started creating study-related videos for Class 10 and 12 students with the help of his teachers.
From January this year, Hitarth has also included quizzes for students taking up Board exams.
A one-man army, he only took help to develop the website from a site builder. “The rest of the app and content is developed by me,” he says. To deal with app bugs and errors, he relies on online forums and YouTube.
However, as a student himself, Hitarth’s challenge has always been managing his academics along with the app development.
“Initially, due to the app’s growth, I had to manage both the things, and my result was affected,” he says. Now he spends only up to two hours every day writing content, recording videos, and managing the app. The rest of the time is dedicated to his studies.
A Steve Jobs’ fan, Hitarth was greatly influenced by the business magnate’s biography. He also found his best friend in a computer, at the age of six.
“Being an introvert, I spent my time knowing this new toy more. Starting with making random pictures on MS paint, I got used to the Microsoft software in a few years,” Hitarth says.
Hitarth’s entrepreneurial journey started much before launching Gujju Student, when he was only 11-years-old.
“I used to frequently get punished for forgetting my homework,” he says. Hence, when he was in Class 7, Hitarth created a simple homework reminding application.
Apart from this, when he was in Class 8, he developed another app called Diabetes Doctor, as he lost his grandfather to diabetes.
According to the IBEF, the Indian education sector is expected to reach $101.1 billion this year, from the existing $91.7 billion. While the top edtech players in the sector, including BYJU’S, Khan Academy, Toppr, and AlmaMapper, are catering to a particular bunch of students, Gujju Student is exclusively meant for GSEB students.
“While the app store comes with a number of apps for the Gujarat Board, most of them are either out-dated or just full of ads,” says Hitarth.
Currently, Gujju Student has more than 70,000 downloads, and 70 percent of these are registered users on the app. According to Hitarth, the app gets up to 150 downloads per day, and “I have not spent a single rupee on promoting the app,” he says. His only investment has been on domain and hosting.
While the platform is currently free to use, Hitarth is planning on implementing a revenue model soon.
“It will be affordable and will sustain my development and maintenance costs too,” he says.
At present, Gujju Student generates up to $200 per month through in-app advertisements. “I am still evaluating various ideas on monetising. Having said that, the goal remains providing accessibility to quality content,” he says.
Hitarth is now looking for funding, and is also creating similar apps for the Maharashtra State Board, Karnataka State Board, and the Tamil Nadu State Board that should be out by May this year.
“I believe vernacular content is the future,” he adds.
He is also looking forward to setting up a proper content team and produce better and more content.
Hitarth says, he wants to attempt JEE and become an engineer someday. “But working on this application will continue,” he adds. He will be soon launching his 13th application, Sanskrit Guru, which will help in learning Sanskrit.