These engineers are tapping into the science of learning with their edtech startup, Edwisely
According to PwC, there are 12 million graduates that come out of India every year, of which 1.2 million of them are engineers. India itself needs to employ 16 million engineers in 10 years and more than 100 million workers.
Now, more than ever, there is a pressing need for engineers in India to be constantly skilled and readied for employability, a truth that was not lost on Edwisely’s founders. This was why engineers Kashyap Kompella, Yashwanth Tudimilla, Hanuma Tej, and Harsha Kanakanala, came together to set up their Hyderabad-based edtech startup in 2018.
“The edtech ecosystem in higher education in India is mostly lopsided towards test prep and cracking competitive examinations, with a majority of companies and startups merely solving that problem,’’ says Kashyap Kompella, Co-founder of Edwisely.
Seeing how most of these companies focus on transition points like post-Class X, post-Class XII, and post-degree, Edwisely wanted to do something differently. The startup envisions an education system where students experience the joy of learning.
“While healthy competition is necessary in the spirit of learning, it is far more important for students to understand the true purpose of learning. We are solving the problem of inefficiencies in learning experienced by engineering students,’’ Kashyap adds.
Edwisely positions itself as a learning science venture more than an edtech startup, which typically provide digital content for learners. The Edwisely founders say on going a step further to investigate the reasons behind why people fail to learn in the context of engineering education, they found that students have a lot of learning preferences based on their cognitive ability, learning style, interests, personality, and background.
“Our solution delivers a seamless learning experience to students pursuing engineering that addresses these preferences and personalises the experience for each student,” Kashyap explains.
The founding story
Kashyap and Harsha met at a German language class in Hyderabad in 2011 and moved to Europe for their master’s.
In the course of their studies and stints at Airbus, Germany and DSM, Netherlands, the duo decided to brindle the gap between the engineering mindset of Indian engineers and their European counterparts. It is during their professional work experience in top Engineeing companies in Europe they realised the importance of engineering mindset and the approach to problem solving. Their interactions with some of the best engineers in Europe gave them the direction to think of making engineering education more contextual and relevant to aspiring engineers who are pursuing different streams of engineering.
This led to deep research on problem of engineering education in India.
This experience led the duo to think about the problem of engineering education in India. They met Hanuma Tej, a room-mate of Kashyap’s, and they shared a lot of passion for future tech and engineering innovations. The trio came back to India and set up Edwisely in 2018.
There was a lot of learning with multiple experiments and attempts to arrive at the right solution for the problem. This is when Kashyap met Yashwanth at an AI/ML conference at IIIT-Hyderabad.
Yashwanth Tudimilla was an IIT-Madras Computer Science alumnus and looking to venture into startups. He was taking a break from his data science career in the airline industry but immediately connected with the problem that Edwisely is trying to solve.
The four engineers understood that learning as such is a complex phenomenon and it needs a scientific approach.
What Edwisely does
Edwisely sells its learning application to institutions as an Android and iOS app, charging an annual subscription from the institutions for licensing the learning software.
The current product is a mobile app that encompasses the attributes of learning science and guides the student based on their strengths and weaknesses.
For example, when the user is learning differential equations, there is a bloom's taxonomy ( which captures the cognitive level of the user ) based formative assessment which captures the user’s comprehension and connects to the prerequisites related to a particular topic that a user is facing difficulty with.
The startup uses Engineering Knowledge Graph framework to generate personalised learning paths for students and propose remedial paths in case any gaps are identified using its adaptive assessments.
A Knowledge Graph is created by experts of machine learning algorithms. It provides a common interface for data and enables the creation of smart multilateral relations throughout databases. Simply put, it is an intelligent layer on top of your data.
Edwisely’s adaptive smart assessments use the AI for item selection based on the student’s prior knowledge of related concepts and answering pattern.
The founders have invested Rs 50 lakh together. Over the next year or so they plan to reach out to one lakh students in engineering colleges across India with their mission to improve the quality of engineering education.
Their clients are institutions offering engineering degrees, mostly based in Hyderabad. They intend to start operations in Gujarat and Delhi NCR. Kashyap says they have five existing clients and another 10 in the pipeline.
He adds that the startup is making the institutional curriculum and assessments more adaptive, by applying cognitive learning style frameworks. They are also working on models for generating better insights for learners to give them highly personalised recommendations to fulfill their career objectives.
Started late last year, they have a subscription model for Institutions and Edwisely’s revenue is growing steadily. The company claims to have mapped 2 million engineering nodes. The founders are expecting the revenue to touch Rs 1.2 crore by the end of this financial year.
They compete with Byju's, Simplilearn, and other learning platforms in the edtech market, which is estimated to touch $1.96 billion by 2021 according to a KPMG report.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)