[Startup Bharat] Started with Rs 10L, how these ex Adda247 employees are helping edtech players in small towns grow
Everyone’s betting on edtech these days. Tailwinds brought on by the pandemic have favoured the growth of edtech startups like never before. However, while city-based edtech giants and unicorns have seen exponential growth, startups in Tier II and III cities still seem to be struggling to be at par.
Even as offline and online education players are creating an impact in their respective towns and cities of origin, they often struggle when it comes to geographical expansion and brand building. So how can non-metro players standardise their teaching methods and resource materials across centres and cities?
This is where Lucknow-based TesMUS comes in. The B2B edtech startup caters to the need of educational institutions and individual educators for high quality, white-labelled teaching content.
“The content works as a marketing collateral, thereby engaging students and enhancing brand value,” TesMUS Founder and CEO Atul Dubey tells YourStory.
Atul, along with his former colleague from ICICI Bank, Sourabh Joneja, joined edtech startup Adda247 as the Head of Operations and Educator, respectively. The duo nurtured the idea of starting out while working together.
“While we were exploring new business opportunities, we observed that large edtech players already had mobile apps for competitive exams. As a result, the local coaching industry was getting adversely affected as they were starving for technology,” Atul says.
Quality and standardised content, and backend management have always presented as challenges for small edtech players. After research and several rounds of discussions, the duo realised that there was a lack of white-label content to help coaching classes build their brand image.
In 2019, the duo founded TesMUS in Lucknow. We wanted to generate employment in our hometown. Besides, Lucknow is centrally located and accessible to all major cities,” Sourabh says. They invested Rs 10 lakh from their personal savings and got another Rs 10 lakh as investments from friends and family.
Initially, the founders faced challenges while making its target audience aware of the white labelled concept. Similarly, high entry level costs and gestation time to create content came off as a struggle. “We come with experience and expertise in the domain so training manpower was not as difficult,” Atul explains.
TesMUS has hired 42 employees, out of which 28 are freelancers.
TesMUS closely works with all its clients and keeps iterating based on the customer’s needs and requirements to improve the latter’s brand value and help in generating more revenue. “Based on their insight, we keep developing new and better products,” Sourabh says.
The B2B edtech startup has a team of qualified competition aspirants and experienced leaders who are responsible for content creation and designing the products.
For intangibles, the steps involved are market research and analysis, generating exam calendars, getting the request sheets from clients, creating the content and design, proofreading the produced content, copyright application, uploading and delivering the content and finally, seeking customer feedback.
On the other hand, for tangibles, the process starts with market research and analysis. It encompasses most of the steps listed above, along with inserting cover page and creative design, order and delivery, and customer feedback.
“The content works as a marketing collateral, thereby engaging students as well as enhancing the brand value,” Atul explains. The edtech startup targets educators, coaching institutes, booksellers, and schools.
The numbers game
TesMUS generates its revenue through four streams. As a publisher on various open market platforms, it ties up with clients. “Our white-labelled courses can be imported and sold through reseller networks,” Sourabh adds. The average ticket size for this is Rs 50 per transaction.
Secondly, the sales team generates and converts leads. The average ticket size from this is Rs 3,000 per month. TechMUS also sells its tech to institutes and educators who wish to go digital. “We provide them with a teaching and management app along with preloaded content to scale up and start operations immediately,” Sourabh says. The average transaction for this service is Rs 10,000.
Finally, TesMUS gets into content partnerships with edtech YouTube channels and the price varies from deal to deal.
TesMUS serves more than 3,200 online and 300 offline customers. Some of TesMUS’ clients are BSC Academy, Career Planner, ClassPlus, JB Classes, and Chandra IAS, among others.
“Our customer retention rate is above 42 percent, despite the pandemic. A lot of our clients had to suspend operations due to the lockdown, but now things have started looking up again,” Atul says.
The startup generated an average monthly billing of Rs 10 lakh per month before the lockdown, and it is targeting Rs 1 crore revenue this financial year.
According to Grand View Research, the global edtech market was valued at $76.4 billion last year and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.1 percent from 2020 and 2027. Additionally, reports suggest that as much as 83 percent of India’s high school students attended coaching classes. This provides a huge opportunity for startups like TesMUS to help coaching centres in small towns and cities grow.
TesMUS competes with the likes of TCY and Adda247, which are also into content partnership programmes. However, Saurabh says, “Their offerings are limited and they do not provide true white-label on-demand and customised content.”
Going ahead, the team plans to expand its product portfolio. “We plan to increase our customer base by developing marketing and distribution channels in top 100 cities of India,” Atul adds.
The team is also working on developing in-house technology for business process management and to open a marketplace for content contribution. TesMUS is also planning to raise external funds by the end of next financial year.
Edited by Kanishk Singh