Coding Ninjas aims to crack the edtech code by reskilling and upskilling college students
While working for the likes of Facebookand Amazon, Ankush Singla realised that college students were finding it hard to get jobs due to the lack of appropriate skills. A coding enthusiast and techie himself, it was a moment of truth for Ankush.
He realised the education system needed a drastic shift. Given his domain expertise, he felt he was in the best position to bring quality tech education for the masses.
Ankush, along with his childhood friend Kannu Mittal and IIT-Delhi batchmate Dhawal Parate, started Coding Ninjas in 2016 in Delhi-NCR. The platform teaches coding to college students to help them upskill their programming skills.
The three invested Rs 50 lakh from their personal savings and started Coding Ninjas first as an offline teaching centre. However, they soon observed that offline model has shortcomings and cannot be scaled without diluting the quality of the product and service.
“Our motive has been to deliver quality education with consistency, which is why we transitioned from an offline to an online platform. By going online with pre-recorded content and offering user-friendly facilities like teaching assistants, practice platform-Codezen to our students, we witnessed a sharp surge in our audience that is not limited to any geography,” says Ankush.
The product is focussed on college students who are on a constant lookout to learn new programming skills or upscale their existing skillset.
The platform and its offerings are optimised keeping coding at the heart of the education. The main differentiators of the platform are that the platform uses IIT, Stanford, Facebook, and Amazon alumni. The idea is to provide hands-on experience in programming to scale the user's learning journey.
The coding courses are personalised course syllabus designed at par with the industry standards. The platform also provides Teaching Assistants (TAs) like the facility to an audio call, video call, and screen share with the teaching assistants. It also provides videos and an in-house practice platform with an inbuilt compiler (supporting C++, JAVA & Python) to practice without the hassle of installing a software (called CodeZen).
There are also Slack groups to speak with mentors and batchmates to solve, interact, and learn new ways to code, different projects, and certifications. The startup also helps with placements.
“Our placement cell has a pool of multinational companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, , and more,” says Ankush.
Prior to joining Anksuh, Kannu was heading the KCG Groups Of Institutions and Dhawal was in the space of financial consulting. Coding Ninjas has over 40,000+ students and alumni, 1,000+ campus ambassadors, 4,000+ teaching assistants, and 150+ employees.
The business is a pay upfront model where a student purchases its courses online, which ranges from Rs 8,000 to Rs 35,000.
Ankush says this is a high margin business as the content is pre-recorded. The teaching assistant support is live and is its highest cost. Typically, the team operates on a 40 percent gross margin.
“With over 15,000 students online in FY 2019-20 alone, Coding Ninjas is growing 3.5X month-on-month at present. On the revenue front, the company has clocked Rs 15 crore in 2019-20 from online business,” says Ankush.
In 2019, the startup introduced Career Camp, a pay later model, where students undergo a rigorous six-month-long online training in coding and pay a part of their salary to Coding Ninjas once they receive the job offer.
The founders claim to have earned a total revenue of $2 million in FY20. And in February 2020, it raised $5.2 million in Series A funding led by Infoedge Private limited.
“The freshly raised funds will help us scale the online tech education business of the company, strengthen the tech and content and help expand into new business territories. The investment will also be used for scaling its new offering - Career Camp,” says Ankush.
The market and future
After BYJU's acquired coding startup WhiteHat Jr for $300 million, the edtech space has been gaining a lot of investor interest. The interest in the space has been added with the new National Education Policy 2020, and the coronavirus pandemic has pushed education to look closely at an online strategy.
According to the HRD Ministry, more than 1.5 million students graduate from engineering schools every year, but not many of them get employed. Pearson Research adds that 95 percent of Indian engineers are not equipped for development and coding jobs.
At present, there are several players in the skilling and coding space, including Pesto, Lambda School, and Masai School, which follow an Income Share Agreement (ISA) model.
“Our aim is to inculcate programming in the life of every student and be the only platform that empowers technical knowledge to all segments across India. Our objective is to build, train, and map the right programming skills in every student on the basis of their interest,” says Ankush.
The team is also looking to foray into the K12 section for school students.
“We are venturing into international markets taking our courses to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. We are also launching new courses for our current market as well, designed keeping the industry relevance in mind. The idea is to be the de facto coding education company for everyone across the globe and age groups,” adds Ankush.