An edtech startup by a Chinese unicorn founder and an IIT alumnus clocks 1M users in less than a year
High school is a busy time for kids, who have to learn fundamental concepts in their stream, give exams, figure out what to do in college, and start prepping for entrance exams—all in a short span of time. Help in the form of quality content, therefore, can effectively supplement formal education at this stage.
Seeing the opportunity that the country presents, and the rise of edtech startups like Vedantu and Byju’s, Li Yong, the Founder of Chinese edtech unicorn Yuanfudao, wished to target India next, with his startup, Oda Class.
He found his co-founder in Shushant Srivastava, when the duo met two years ago and decided to flip the script by roping in only IIT and NIT alumni to teach kids over an app. Odaclass came to be in November 2019.
"When Yuanfudao planned to come to India to develop the online education business in 2018, they came to Bengaluru for research, and that's when they met me, where I was the head of an institute called Allen. Li Yong and I started sharing our thoughts about the education industry in India and China. Yuanfudao had the best business experience and I knew the market, the parents, and students. By combining our resources we realised we could provide a platform with quality education," says Shushant.
Innovative teaching model
Bengaluru-based Oda Class offers content and material via video, adopting a dual-teacher model with IIT and NIT alumni.
The dual teacher system is an approach of delivering lectures by a master teacher with chat-based interaction complemented by personal assistance from an academic mentor available round the clock for doubt-solving. Shushant says that dual-teaching has been a big hit in China as it enables students to learn concepts faster.
"The content is also AI-fueled and has an adaptive learning module during live lecture, to accelerate data-driven learning process. Live audio-video connection happen between the master teachers and students at even low internet bandwidths. The mobile app can be used to study anywhere, anytime," he adds.
The startup provides free open live sessions to students every day, and sees conversions to paid sessions. Videos are targeting students in Classes VI to XII adhering to the CBSE board and cover JEE material as well.
Shushant had seven years of teaching experience, and graduated from IIT Roorkee in 2013. Since then, he has been teaching full time. He brings a very teacher-first approach to the startup. "Our focal point is to bring quality education in to the Indian education system. With affordable internet across India now, Oda Class focuses on education beyond Tier II and II students," he adds.
The startup also provides analytics to capture a student’s potential and improve their performance on an individual basis. The startup has a pool of 60 teachers who are all from IIT and NIT. The tech team at Oda Class produces the videos and uses cloud to scale it to multiple users on high definition, Shushant explains.
Oda Class has achieved rapid growth with over one million users since its launch in November last year. Shushant says the app has notched up close to a million downloads on Play Store; it is available on IOS too. It has managed to do this through digital marketing initiatives and word-of-mouth reviews. Yuanfudao has invested an undisclosed amount in the 20-member team.
Oda Class follows a freemium model, providing free live sessions and then asking students to pay per subject.
Since it is only a few months into operations, Oda Class does not to disclose its expected revenues.
A booming industry
According to KPMG report in 2018, titled Online Education in India, the edtech industry is a $2 billion market.
Your Story Research, YourStory’s research arm, highlights steady funding activity in the Indian edtech startup ecosystem.
There were 52 deals in the space worth $141 million in 2017. In 2018, there were 51 deals and the total amount raised went up to $668.7 million. Last year saw 43 deals cornering $416.13 million.
According to the MHRD there were close to 260 million children in school in 2019. Oda Class and its competitors in the edtech sector, like Vedantu and Byju’s, clearly have a lot to work with in the coming years.
“We are looking at getting 10 million users by bridging the educational gap between rural and urban India and making courses more accessible in markets beyond the top 56 cities in India,” Shushant adds. Right now, its users hail from Mysuru, Coimbatore, Surat, and Nagpur as far as Tier II cities are concerned.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)