Starting up with less than Rs 10k, this edtech startup now clocks $1M in revenue
Studying abroad might be expensive, but it need not be exhausting.
For four students of Mumbai’s DJ Sanghvi College of Engineering - Sumeet Jain, Kashyap Matani, Tumul Buch, and Jinesh Bagadia - getting admission to a university abroad seemed like a far-fetched dream.
“Indian students are used to applications based on a single exam score, but a lot of factors, including scholarships, student loans, preparing an essay, and connecting with the right people, come into consideration when applying to an university abroad,” says Sumeet, 30.
“We couldn’t go abroad but realised that starting with the process a year in advance and demystifying it would help aspirants after us,” he adds.
Thus, in 2011, right after graduating, the four of them created a Facebook page and started building tools to help others apply to the right kind of universities, based on their profiles. Soon, they had built a community of aspirants on the social networking platform.
In 2015, when they realised the potential of having a platform to address the doubts and assist aspirants, the four launched Yocket. Based out of Mumbai, Yocket is a one-stop platform for students planning to study abroad. It has over 360,000 registered students, and has tied up with 100-plus universities in the US, Canada, UK, and Hong Kong.
It provides end-to-end services, starting from GRE to shortlisting, helping with the VISA application, loans, forex and finally the accommodation.
Admissions during coronavirus
In testing times like these, when the entire world has come to a halt owing to the spread of coronavirus, Yocket is providing free access to its platform to students from across the globe.
“Lakhs of candidates who had initiated the process a few months back are facing major problems in getting the right information from foreign universities. Yocket has also opened a helpline where students can schedule calls with their advisors on any doubts they have. Many students are mid-way through their applications, and now, with uncertainty looming, we don't want them to panic,” Sumeet says.
Yocket has also decided to provide free webinar services to international universities to enable them to directly interact with candidates and address their queries.
Recently, the startup conducted a survey, where 69.9 percent students said they wanted to go ahead with the preparation, and wanted to get the funds ready. Another 19.48 percent of students felt it was too early to decide. Nine percent of students said they wanted to defer the admission process.
The story so far
Prior to Yocket, the four friends had started another company called StupidSid while in college. StupidSid was a study resources and information platform that focused on engineering students in the country. Yocket got its initial user base from the Facebook page and StupidSid.
The founders pooled in less than Rs 10,000 to buy the domain and build the website for Yocket.
Today, the edtech startup has data of more than 3.6 lakh students on its platform. “With this kind of data, we are able to offer better data-backed solutions to our users,” Sumeet says.
Yocket claims to be adding more than one lakh students every year.
The 100 universities on its platform include Northeastern University, University of Texas Dallas, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Binghamton, and University of Utah.
The edtech startup currently clocks annual revenue of $1 million, and is profitable. Yocket aims to take that to up to $10 million in the next three years.
“Yocket is a play on Rocket, meaning Yocket is your rocket to higher education,” Sumeet jokes. The team has 54 employees and plans to grow this to 100 by the end of this year.
How does it work?
On its platform, Yocket has students, universities, and other allied service providers, including student loan and forex providers.
For students, most services, from course selection to visa application, are free to use. Those who need personalised help can use Yocket’s premium services. These include advice from an experienced counsellor and being guided throughout the process of course selection, university selection, help in the application process, applying for scholarships, finalising the university, help with the loan, and finally with the visa process.
The premium services are available at $500 per student, for the entire process.
Yocket uses machine learning (ML) to recommend students the right university, after analysing data from the past.
“Based on the student’s profile, Yocket uses ML to refer universities,” Sumeet says.
On universities’ front, Yocket helps institutes reach out to a larger student segment in India, and to beyond the metro cities. The services can be personalised, depending on the requirements of the university. Service charges for universities range between $10,000 and $1,00,000 per annum.
For service providers, Yocket puts these as added services for the students. It has a loan assistance programme where various lenders provide their best available options. Going ahead, Yocket plans to get more service providers on board.
According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the number of students travelling abroad for higher education in 2019 was estimated to be 4.6 million, across the globe. This number has been growing at an annual CAGR of three percent.
Yocket competes with the likes of iSchoolConnect, Wallick Global Consulting, Princeton Review, Jamboree, studyportals, MyMBACircle.com, and gradschoolmatch, among others. Azent Overseas, backed by Atul Nishar, Founder of Aptech and Hexaware, is a prominent player in the market.
However, what sets Yocket apart is its ML-based process, and the huge amount of data available with the startup. According to Sumeet, 70 percent of the Indian students who go to the US for higher education have been on Yocket. “There would be more than 10,000 study abroad agents in the country, and we are trying to organise that industry and offer a superior product,” he adds.
Going ahead, Yocket plans to raise funds to grow its operations exponentially.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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