From an investment of Rs 40 lakh to Rs 20 Cr revenue, how Ufaber found success with hyper-personalised learning
After passing out from IIT-Bombay in 2004, Rohit Jain and Anirudh Swarnkar, both engineers, worked in corporate jobs for a year. However, the duo soon realised that they had a passion for teaching and could do more in that field. In 2005, they launched their K12-focused company Mexus Education.
Over the next few years, as they scaled their education company, the duo came to terms with the fact that they needed to focus on personalised training for older students.
In 2014, they invested Rs 40 lakh to launch Mumbai-based Ufaber, an online education company that offers world-class products to help students get the results they want in examinations, develop language proficiency, and gain employability skills. The customised and accessible education solutions aim to skill students and professionals.
The market and demand are clearly huge.
The United Nations Department of Economic Affairs and the Asian Development Bank estimate that around 400,000 Indians head to other countries every year. As of now, around three million students from India are studying abroad. Alongside, millions of students continue to prepare for UPSC and other competitive exams like GATE and IELTS.
Result-driven and personalised learning
Reason enough for Rohit and Anirudh to attempt to break the timetable-and-classroom routine, and provide result-driven, personalised, and affordable education.
“The theory of online education seems to be alien to Indian masses; people are sceptical about learning without the physical presence of a teacher. This inherent reluctance to adopt online education has limited the proliferation and penetration of quality education and training, further limiting the access only to a privileged few,” Anirudh says.
He adds that their research showed that students in rural parts of India aspiring to crack the UPSC or GATE examinations rarely had access to good tuition or learning centres.
“Be it online training or classroom lectures, classes in general lack personalisation. Students across the country need affordable hyper-personalised training programmes, and it was looking at this lacuna that the idea of Ufaberwas conceived,” Rohit says.
How Ufaber works
The company, as of now, offers seven specific products. These include Fluent Life (course for English fluency), eMaester (for trainers and teachers), IELTS Ninja (for ESL tests), GATE School (engineering entrance exam), UPSC Pathshala (civil services), Being PRO (for working professionals), HOOOP (fun engagement for children), and Real School (preparation for the jobs of 2040).
Ufaber believes the “first step towards effective learning is the perfect synchronisation of student and trainer”.
Learning is delivered through live interactive video sessions, providing a highly result-oriented output. The
while strictly adhering to the study plans. Periodic assessments and evaluation sessions are organised to assess the grasping power and understanding of students.
The company also provides students with a repository of knowledge through a well-equipped library of video content available on demand.
Helping every student succeed
Customisation of courses and tracking the progress of students at each level are crucial steps in the learning process as most students are not self-learners. Classroom models are best suited for students who are extremely self-motivated, but these comprise just 10 percent of the entire class strength. This was the problem that Ufaber wanted to solve, and help each student from the entire batch to score well.
“We introduced customised one-on-one training for focused learning. We wanted to address the challenges of the rest of the 90 percent of students who were not a good fit in a classroom model,” Anirudh says.
He adds that another focus is to “provide coaching for life-altering exams such as IELTS, PTE, and UPSC, which are highly result-oriented”. Hyper-personalised coaching helps students excel in these international and national-level assessments.
The main philosophy behind the mode of instruction is flexibility and easy accessibility. Students can choose the learning environment that works best for their needs; it can be their study room, living room, workplace, or the café across the street.
A student only needs a stable internet connection and a device (phone/laptop) for the live session and to access the Ufaber video content library. This helps Ufaber shorten the feedback loop and cover a good amount of syllabus in the shortest time possible.
Ufaber’s approach towards trainers is also one of its USPs.The eMaester programme is conceptualised to tap the hidden and under-represented talents of passionate educators across the world. The company teaches them the systems and content to enable them to help thousands of students achieve their goals. They are also offer guaranteed employment after completion of training from the comfort of their homes.
According to an ASSOCHAM survey, private tutors in India on an average charge between Rs 1,000 and Rs 4,000 per hour per student on a one-to-one basis; group tuition costs between Rs 1,000 and Rs 6,000 per month. This is tough for an aspirant who does not come from an affluent family or for those from rural regions where access to a good tutor is sparse. There is also a hidden problem: commuting to distant learning centres, which consumes a great deal of time.
Ufaber is tackling these pain points and using technology to make learning affordable, hyper-personalised, and effective.
“Our solutions are not restricted to students, but are also for corporate professionals who want to improve their English communication skills,” Rohit says.
Ufaber’s first client, in 2014, was a set of two friends, who worked for an NGO and wanted to improve their English communication skills. They liked the content and concept of a personal trainer on the website, took a few free sessions, and the learning began.
The challenges included getting good trainers to work with Ufaber. The co-founders recall exhausting job databases but still being unable to find “even 10 percent of the qualities” that they expected from trainers. This led them to create their own trainers, and they came up with a ‘Train the Teacher’ programme. Within three months, in 2014, they had bridged the demand and supply gap; now, they have 1,200+ trainers.
“Majority of our learners are from the lower middle-class or middle-class, and looking for one-on-one training at an affordable cost. We offer premium service at affordable pricing without any hidden or over-and-above costs. Our model encourages prospective students to take a free demoto understand the workings of the platform. This helps them take an informed decision,” Rohit says.
Today, Ufaber has 10 lakh+ registered learners, and 30,000 paid customers. The company, which competes with the likes of Simplilearn, Vedantu, and Byju’s, claims Rs 20 crore in revenue for 2019. .
What’s up next? The co-founders aim to get to their goal of 10,000-plus trainers on the platform in the next two years, with each trainer putting in “1,000 hours of one-on-one training”. “Ufaber is planning to have six lakh students in one year in a couple of years,” the co-founders say.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)