E-learning startup IsEqualTo is making studies fun with its made-in-India app
Remember the all-nighters before school exams? Scratchy head, teary eyes, highlighted notes, and numerous textbooks failed to explain to us why a² + b² is equal to (a+b)²- 2ab.
Mumbai-based e-learning startup IsEqualTo was launched to find ways to make studies more enjoyable for students and focus on concept-based learning rather than textbook-based learning.
The idea came when Saakar Yadav could not accept the way chemical equations were being taught to his daughter at school. Along with his close friends, Saumil Gandhi and Vishrut Srivastava, Saakar founded IsEqualTo Learning Systems Private Limited in 2018 to focus on providing daily news, quizzes, and general knowledge to students of Classes 1 to 10.
“The problem is that education has not changed over the last many years. The internet and technology have revolutionised the world with ecommerce, delivery services, logistics, health, travel etc, but not much work has been done in education,” Saakar, Co-founder and CXO, tells YourStory.
Before launching the startup, serial entrepreneur and tech maven Saakar was involved in providing tuition classes to students. Vishrut, who completed his MBA from Vanderbilt University, has deep experience in designing and working with complex technology solutions, including machine learning and AI. Saumil completed his master's in information technology from Purdue University and has 15 years of experience in product development and user experience delivery.
Saakar explains that the majority of education technology at present involves recording videos of teachers in class and nothing more than that. He adds that teaching students is a “lot more than just forcing videos on them”.
He and his co-founders seem to have changed the way e-learning is delivered in India. IsEqualTo was selected as one of the 24 made-in-India apps in the news category in the recent AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Making learning innovative and fun
Saakar says the IsEqualTo app focuses on news, general knowledge, current affairs and also includes content based on the ICSE and CBSE school curricula.
Co-founder and CPO Saumil explains that the app has four main features: Daily Edition, which provides a daily news and GK feed to students; Ask The World, a teacher-moderated student QA forum; Brain Power, an interactive quiz bank that covers over 50 categories and helps students improve GK and aptitude skills; and Score More, which was recently launched in beta. It is a curriculum-based Q&A bank for CBSE and ICSE students with 40,000+ questions. “We created all these features to ensure that students get access to studies and all-round learning in one app,” the founders said.
“Two important aspects cemented themselves in the company's approach to building the product. Firstly, every piece of content on the app was customised for a specific age or grade; secondly, content is made available to them in a language of their choice,” he says.
Indrani Dey, Head of Content, explains that the team is working on producing content in Hindi, and will soon also include other Indian and foreign languages.
The platform also provides students with self-assessment tools. It enables students to find questions and answers related to a certain topic/subject at one place; they can mark the topics or questions as “know well”, “know little”, and “don’t know”. This allows the students to get a compiled list of points they need to focus on.
Tech behind IsEqualTo
Speaking about the technology, Vishrut, Co-founder and CTO, says: “IsEqualTo has its own state-of-the-art CMS built from scratch in-house with configurable workflow for multi-level maker-checker process to ensure content accuracy.”
He says the system uses AI and machine learning to verify that the content published for various age groups is appropriate and maintains decency. For extra security, it is also manually checked. After publishing, users can flag or report content, which then gets resolved immediately.
Saumil says AI is also used to analyse the skills of the students and personalise content. As the application is further scaled up, AI and ML algorithms will also be able to predict weak points of each student so they can focus more on them.
Business and more
Saakar says IsEqualTo is not competing with schools or tuition classes, stating that educational institutes can also adopt the application to make classes more interactive. The trio agrees that the main idea behind launching the startup was to ensure quality education reached all students.
The app can be accessed by students at a subscription of Rs 100 a month, or Rs 1,000 a year. IsEqualTo has over 65,000 downloads, and has more than 6,000 daily active users.
Speaking about future plans, the CXO reveals that the startup is in talks with two state boards to include the Q&A bank from their curriculum.
The co-founders say amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerated digitalisation, the most popular technology being used for online classes is video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet. The education sector is not yet leveraging technology to disrupt the market.
The IsEqualTo team believes that accelerated digitalisation has made educational institutes more receptive to tapping technology to improve the sector.
A report by BARC India and Nielsen says there has been a 30 percent increase in time spent on education apps on smartphones since the lockdown. Apart from this, a SimilarWeb survey reveals that the edtech segment saw an increase in user visits by 26 percent between April 2019 and March 2020, compared to the same period between 2018-19.
“IsEqualTo’s ideology and content is already aligned to key features in the new National Educational Policy (NEP) 2020 released by the Government of India. Our features address holistic interdisciplinary learning, vernacular content, and development of 21st century skills to some extent,” Saakar says.
“As we go further in our journey, we plan to develop these further, include major Indian languages, and build on features to enhance learning and development,” the founders add.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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