[Startup Bharat] From IITs and IIMs to INSEAD and Lancaster, Yearbook Canvas helps institutes preserve memories for students
After working in Mumbai for many years, Devesh Rakhecha and Suraj Goyal were looking to get back to their hometown, Jodhpur, in Rajasthan. While home, they would frequent The Book Cafe, a coffee shop, and this is when they started bumping into each other regularly.
During one of their meetings, while swapping stories about their college days, they stumbled upon an idea of starting a venture that could preserve college memories for students across the globe.
Hence, the duo set up Yearbook Canvas in 2015 in Jodhpur. It is a self-publishing memory and data company, offering yearbooks or memory books in digital and physical form for schools, colleges, universities, and companies. The startup preserves student’s memories by customising their yearbooks.
Though the concept is relatively new in India, the company claims it has so far published over one lakh yearbooks for more than 100 elite institutes like the IITs, IIMs, medical and law colleges, apart from some international institutions.
“We have more than 1,000 beautifully designed templates for yearbooks,” tells Sushil Sharma, Co-Founder and CEO, Yearbook Canvas.
The beginning and setting up a team
The founders were lucky to have had the comfort of working at home in Jodhpur, the city which was also fast becoming a major education hub for higher studies. It offered them enough scope to test the waters, but what still seemed to be a lacuna was the push, some guidance, and access to the right network and resources.
During one of the community meetups, they met Sushil Sharma, a serial entrepreneur and mentor to budding startups in the Marwar region, who had organised a meet up for the local entrepreneurs.
A college dropout himself, Sushil knew how valuable it was for an entrepreneur to have ‘the right mentor at the right time’. He started bringing investors and seasoned entrepreneurs from across India to Jodhpur to create an ecosystem for startups to emerge and grow. Prior to this, he had also run two ventures, and had closely worked with the educational institutions. Hence, Sushil was bought on board in September 2018 as Co-founder and a mentor.
“It was the team’s passion and commitment to make this a scalable startup and spearhead the story from a Tier II town that convinced me the time to invest into building the ecosystem in Tier II, III, IV, and V towns has come, and that I must give it my all to make it thrive and support them,” recalls Sushil.
Since then, there was no looking back for the trio. Apart from some of the elite institutions, some of Yearbook’s other clients include SP Jain, ISB, Lancaster University, Singapore International, INSEAD, and HKUST University, among others, says Sushil.
The eight-member team is now confident about growth, as it does not have any competition in India, claims Sushil, adding that the only competition for them is local printers.
How it works
The yearbook is usually published for schools, colleges, and universities. Sushil says the yearbooks are mostly driven by the cultural committees of students.
“We have created a self-publishing online platform where students can do various activities like uploading pictures, writing, requesting testimonials about each other, polling, etc,” he adds.
Once the contract is sealed and signed, login IDs are created for students for whom the yearbooks are being published.
“We know the worth of memories and more so when it is from the days of your youth. The much-cherished days during your graduation and preserving them for you is what Yearbook Canvas does,” adds Sushil.
As security is a concern, the platform also provides multiple user rights with different access controls to students and institutes to protect their pictures and other important documents. The price of the year books varies as per the requirement, size, pages, and design.
Funding and plans ahead
The company received a funding of Rs 2 crore led by Scale Ventures and a clutch of other investors in March this year. Sushil claims the valuation of the company has jumped from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 7.5 crore within a short span of seven months.
The startup is now planning to use these funds to market aggressively, and for technology enhancements. “We are now targeting 37,000+ education institutes in India for these yearbooks,” says Sushil.
He adds that the next round of funding will be used for international expansion and to bring in more sophisticated technologies, such as artificial intelligence.
According to the CEO, the company will soon be launching a mobile app and a photobook platform, and will also start partnering with corporates. The company has set a revenue target of Rs 16 crore for financial year 2020.