Sunstone Eduversity partners with business schools to run and manage AICTE-approved PGDM programmes using an asset-light model and a unique pricing strategy.Debolina Biswas
Higher education is a risky investment.
After a few years at a job, you decide to hit the books again in the prospect of landing a career. But it’s anybody’s guess whether you will land your dream job after all the money and effort you put into your post-graduation. While most business schools commit to campus placements, few see to it that the last student has secured a job. As a result, it seems like a good amount of money, hard work, and hopes and dreams go down the drain.
Gurugram-based Sunstone Eduversity cropped up to allay such common fears of MBA and PGDM aspirants with a unique proposition: 'Pay after Placement.'
Founded by Ashish Munjal and Piyush Nangru in Gurugram in 2011, Sunstone Eduversity is an edtech startup aggregating business schools that have well-equipped infrastructure but not enough students to fill the existing seats. It runs and manages an All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) approved Post-Graduate Diploma Programme (PGDM) across campuses of its partner colleges.
Founders Ashish (34) and Piyush (34) were batchmates at Institute of Management Technology (IMT) Ghaziabad, and have remained friends since then.
Ashish is a Chartered Financial Analyst from the US. He worked as an investment banker with Bank of America before co-founding marketing platform Crownit. Piyush joined Crownit as a founding member, and has been primarily responsible for marketing and operations. But Ashish has always been interested in the education sector as well, and that made him start up Sunstone Eduversity.
"India does not have a mainstream education product solving the employability problem. We realised that if a product offers industry-oriented quality education with a focus on employability, it can bring about a paradigm shift in mainstream education," says Ashish.
Sunstone aggregates business schools in an asset-light model for PGDM courses. Although it does not offer MBA right now, Sunstone intends to tie up with universities offering the programme as well.
Once Sunstone partners with the college, it takes over responsibilities for admissions, academics (programme design, curriculum, and pedagogy), and placements. The college partner is responsible for infrastructure and accreditation.
At present, Sunstone has tied up with four colleges - two in NCR, one in Bengaluru, and one in Indore, including Noida Institute of Engineering and Technology, and Patel Institute of Science and Management, Bengaluru.
"Till date we have received over 12,000 admission inquiries and 1,100 applications, out of which 100 students have been selected after following a strict evaluation and screening process. We aim to selected in total 300 students for 2019-21 session," says Ashish.
Every classroom works on a hybrid model - students being taught by one ‘star faculty’, and one classroom faculty. The star faculty--comprising leaders from the industry or renowned veterans--deliver sessions to multiple classes from a remote area through live streaming. The classroom faculty is responsible for clearing concepts and solving doubts.
For the initial registration fees, Sunstone charges Rs 65,000, and works on a 'Pay after Placement' model. It does not charge anything during the two-year course.
"Once the student gets a job, they have to pay us 10 times the value of their monthly salary as the tuition fees," Ashish says.
Sunstone Eduversity has 37 members including eight for academics.
Faculty members include IIT Kharagpur and IIM Calcutta alumnus like Tapan Rayaguru, ISB alumnus Joseph A. Hopper, and former Infosys executive Sohini Mukherjee, among others.
Sunstone’s first batch was started in 2014, and their list of recruiters include Google, Accenture, Amazon, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, Shopclues, and IBM.
"When we interact with the alumni, we realise the magnitude of change we are bringing. The first batch of students (2014-16) have all now drawing a salary range of Rs 50,000 to Rs 80,000 per month. Considering the backgrounds they come from, this is a huge change in their lives," Ashish says.
So far, Sunstone has placed 240 students with a 100-percent track record.
Pinky Kumar of Sunstone Eduversity’s PGDM batch of 2015-17 says,
"Sunstone provided me with great support to kick-start my career and helped me fund my education through the pay-after-placement fee structure. I learnt industry-related and management skills through application-based learning that helped me succeed in the corporate world."
In 2018, Sunstone had a batch size of 60 students, with a projected revenue of Rs 1.5 crore.
"For 2019’s batch we are targeting Rs 15 crore, and for the 2020 batch, we are targeting upto Rs 50 crore," says Ashish.
Sunstone shares a portion of its revenue with its college partners.
Sunstone has raised funds worth $300,000 from angels in a round led by Purvi Ventures, and PS1 Ventures in January 2019. Rajul Garg, Founder of Pine Labs, and Global Logic, Sairee Chahal, CEO of Sheroes, Ambarish Gupta, Co-founder of Knowlarity Communications, Lovleen Bhatia and Kapil Tyagi, , Co-founders of Edureka, Raghavendra Prasad, Co-founder of Qikwell Technologies, and Pallav Pandey, Co-founder of Fastfox, also participated in the round.
Sunstone Eduversity’s example shows there has never been a better time to invest in edtech. According to a report by KPMG and Google, the Indian edtech market is pegged to touch $1.96 billion by 2021.
Sunstone competes with the likes of Pesto, iNurture, and TimesPro. However, while all of these players offer capsule courses, Sunstone offers mainstream education in an asset-light model. A big differentiator is, of course, their pricing model.
"We have a unique pricing model where we take complete ownership of a student's career and charge the student only once he gets a job," Ashish adds.
For the current academic year, Sunstone has already enrolled 100 students at the time of this article’s publishing.
"We are tying up with five campuses in four cities this year, and 15 campuses in 10 cities next year. By 2023, we are aiming at 100 colleges in 40 cities and a revenue booking of Rs 700 crore," says Ashish.
Sunstone's next stops include expanding to colleges in Pune, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai.