This bootstrapped edtech startup is kindling a spark in students and professionals to make the right career choice
Every student of Class X and XII is typically asked one question: what next? And while it’s important for students to chalk out their future career path, the process is extremely daunting. Pune-based career guidance service startup Kindle Career believes that everyone deserves to find their ideal profession, one that is best suited to their interests and competencies.
The right resources and guidance can simplify the process, and save a lot of time, energy, and money. Aware that not everyone has access to these, the startup has developed a body of psychometric assessments, aptitude tests, mentorship programmes, and online courses for high school students, graduates, working professionals, educational institutes, and corporates.
The best part? Their services are inclusive and affordable. For a sum of Rs 500, a student can take the test on a mobile phone and access the report in English and Marathi, a significant advantage for those who are more comfortable with Indian languages as compared with English. Plans are afoot to add other languages soon.
A spark is kindled
Kindle Career was founded in June 2018 by Barun Anand and Girija Nair. Barun, who has a B Tech degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology, has extensive experience in web development and digital marketing.
Girija, who has a Master’s degree in Computer Science, and a certification in Strategic Management from Copenhagen School of Business, brings over 30 years of experience with brands like Reliance Retail, Vodafone, and Philips.
The founders met when Girija had outsourced a digital marketing assignment for one of her clients to Barun. The two soon realised that their commitment to customers was something they had in common.
“When we were working together on various projects, we realised that career solutions that were available had many shortcomings,” Girija says. “The psychometric products were not tech-savvy or user-friendly, and the recommendations were vague, outdated, and not multilingual.”
Combining their expertise in technology, marketing, and mentoring, the two decided to develop a service that could bridge this gap in the market. And Kindle Career was born.
A test of mettle
For Girija and Barun, establishing the bootstrapped Kindle Career as a reliable service came with its own set of stumbling blocks. For one, they had to constantly update their technology to meet their delivery deadlines. Also, as a startup, the company had to prove capable of earning the trust of its clients.
“Considering how young our company is, we’ve had a hard time convincing our large clients about our credibility,” Girija says.
The founders’ personal portfolios and work experience helped them overcome this challenge. They enlisted the services of Justdial to acquire their first client – Rajasthani’s Podar Learn School, Parli. Barun and Girija’s personal network of contacts also came in handy while expanding their client base.
The company comprises of seven core team members, including the founders, and a network of eight entrepreneurs who operate from franchises established in Mumbai, Pune, and Chandigarh. The team - proficient in the fields of IT, education, psychology, life skills, and social welfare - is working to bring on board schools, colleges, and corporate houses, and also play the role of counsellors.
“We charge Rs 500 for each online assessment and report,” Girjia says. “Those who opt for a counselling session will be charged between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 depending on the profile of the mentor.”
With a target audience ranging from students of Class VIII to graduates and working professionals, Kindle Career creates custom analytical tools depending on their client. For instance, they have developed an assessment test exclusively for Industrial Training Institute (ITI) diploma holders.
“Apart from a basic industrial job, there are a number of career opportunities for ITI students once they have completed their course,” Girija explains. “So we designed a psychometric product using standardised tools and mapped it to opportunities like advanced courses in ITI, or graduating in non-science fields, or continuing education in engineering careers through lateral admissions.”
Other services include a business fitment test that analyses whether or not an individual is ready to establish their own startup, study support products such as educational games, and training courses in areas such as banking and digital marketing.
Kindle Career now has 10 centres across Pune and Mumbai. “Within the first six months of our operation, we had counselled close to 3,000 students from Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh,” Girija recounts.
In addition to students, their client base comprises institutes like GD Goenka School, Rajasthani’s Podar Learn School, Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Priyadarshini School, and the Sarthak Foundation.
Kindle Career is also the official aptitude test partner for Civil Services Study Centre, a Government of West Bengal initiative that aims to train and guide civil service aspirants.
By the end of 2018, the startup had met its revenue target of Rs 5 lakh. Creating assessment tools takes up a significant portion of their capital expenditure, and the company is working with operating profits. As far their revenue model goes, counselling partners are offered 75 per cent of the revenue, while the team retains 25 percent.
According to reports on the education and training sector, India has one of the biggest chains of higher education institutes in the world. The future of edtech in India is extremely bright with experts estimate that from $91.7 billion in FY18, the Indian education sector will rise to $101.1 billion in FY19.
With close to 500 million Indians in the age group of 5 to 24 years, the market is ripe for career counselling companies like Kindle Career and its competitors Mindler, Mettl, and CareerGuide.
The founders are now looking to use Blockchain technology to provide career solutions and will be open to investments shortly. The team is currently focused on stabilising their business and revenue models in preparation for future rounds of funding.
“In addition to English and Marathi, Kindle Career assessments will soon be available in Hindi,” says Girija, when asked about their future plans.