Backed by Unacademy founders, this edtech startup is democratising software development education in India
IIT Roorkee graduates Nishant Chandra and Siddharth Maheshwari founded video consultation platform Bolo in 2018. While building the platform, the duo realised there was a huge demand for engineering roles.
“While the (engineering) students were motivated, the education system had failed to make the courses enjoyable,” Siddharth tells YourStory.
It was then that they decided to bridge this gap and founded Newton School in 2019. Bengaluru-based Newton School works like a coding bootcamp company. It provides an online full-stack training platform for software engineers. It charges zero upfront fees, and promises placement in top tech companies, with an annual package of over Rs 6 lakh.
“We wanted to empower students to become proficient software developers. We aim to transform India into a global developer powerhouse by providing companies with high quality tech talent,” he adds.
In September this year, Newton School raised $6,50,000 in seed round from Nexus Venture Partners. It is backed by Unacademy founders Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini, and Hemesh Singh; US-based AngelList and founder of Upwork, Srinivas Anumolu; educationalists Ajay Gupta and Sahil Aggarwal; and GrowthStory’s K Ganesh.
The startup identifies students with the maximum potential from across the country and puts them through an extensive admissions process. The admission process spans over two weeks in which each student’s motivations and learnability are tested.
Post this, a final round of interviews are conducted by the experts on the team. The interviews focus on communication skills, performances, and passion of the applicants.
“Because of the unique fees model, lakhs of candidates enrol for the series of codability and attitude tests. However, only one percent of applicants make the final cut,” Siddharth says.
Selected students are then put through a power-packed six-months online programme. Live classes are conducted between 9 PM and 12 AM every day to enable both students and working professionals to be a part of the programme.
Learning from the best
The development programme includes more than 1,000 hours of coding, 50 plus hours of soft skills training, live projects, and mentorship oversight. The courses are designed by inculcating the latest industry trends and are taught by a group of professionals.
The co-founder explains that these professionals are usually mentors who apply for the role via LinkedIn or the edtech startup’s website. Newton School has more than 200 mentors, instructors, and interviewers working with it. Its mentors are top execs from companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Uber, Dell, and Adobe, among others.
It also emphasises on quality training that scales. It has built its product in a manner so as to monitor and evaluate every student. The artificial intelligence (AI) based product provides recommendations to each of its students for performance improvement. It also runs a free learning platform with more than one lakh monthly average programmers.
Pay after placement
Since Newton School offers the course without any upfront fees, and is completely online, it allows “People to cross financial and location barriers to achieve their dream,” Siddharth adds.
The startup is also revolutionising junior level tech hiring for companies by identifying the best students from across the county and making a pool of talented software developers available. The edtech startup partners with companies such as Unacademy, Rapido and Toppr, at zero cost, for placements.
Siddharth says, “For our first batch, which recently graduated, we had 90 percent placement rate...Most of the students have ended up with double to triple salaries immediately after the course.”
While students do not have to pay anything initially to enrol for the course, Newton School charges them 15 percent of their salary for three years after they find a job. However, this comes with a clause as well.
“Students only need to pay when they are placed with a minimum package of Rs 6 lakh per annum, and we do not charge anything from the hiring partners,” Siddharth explains.
According to a survey conducted by Statista across India, around 8,80,000 students enrolled in computer science engineering discipline in the academic year 2019. And yet, not all of these engineers are industry-ready. This is where bootcamp startups come in to bridge the gap.
A report by Verified Market Research suggests that the global coding bootcamp market was valued at $399.91 million in 2018 and was projected to reach $889.37 by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 10.7 percent between 2019 and 2026. Some of the notable players in the bootcamp coding platform space are Masai School, Pesto, and Lambda School, among others.
“Unlike our competitors, the programme is part-time and that enables both college students and working professionals to be a part of it,” Siddharth says.
According to the co-founder, Newton School’s business is highly capital efficient and the company is close to breakeven, and is on the path to become profitable in the next couple of months.
Newton School already has 500 students enrolled in the programme and in parallel, it is planning to scale this number to 10,000 by next year. “Thus, having a larger intake than all the IITs combined,” Siddharth says.
The startup aims to reach $1 million in monthly revenue in the next six to eight months. Newton School is also in talks with MNCs to on-board them as placement partners.
Edited by Megha Reddy