From on-prem software to SaaS: how Delhi-based Entab is simplifying school management

Founded by Shaji Thomas and Lawrence Zacharias in 2000, school management startup Entab has signed up 900 schools, made Rs 35 crore in revenue in FY20, and is looking to raise funding to scale up.
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A school is an entire ecosystem in itself and encompasses a range of tasks. From admission tracking and fee collection to student and staff details and inventory management to class content and disseminating information, there is something that needs to be done every single day. 

Enter EntabAI-based school management software and mobile apps that help simplify administration and organisation

"Our software lets schools manage all these tasks on the platform, saving a lot of time. With time, we have also addressed other issues such as HR management, salary preparation, and library computerisation,” says Shaji Thomas, Co-founder of Entab

The company now offers a range of school-focused products, including ERP software, management software, pre-school management software, and management apps.

The company's mobile app brings all stakeholders – management, teachers, parents, and children - on to a single platform, creating powerful relationships that help facilitate a child’s holistic development

“Today our solution meets all academic, administrative, finance, and communication needs of an institute through 18 modules," Shaji says. 

In the beginning

Shaji was into computer education and literacy programmes from 1994. By 2000, it was apparent that schools needed to digitise their academic and financial activities. By the end of the year 2000, Shaji and his partner, Lawrence Zacharias, approached schools with an idea of automating all activities. 

Shaji was connected to a wide network of schools through computer education programmes while Lawrence had worked in the Air Force for more than a decade.

The duo came together and launched formally by May 2001. Their product, launched in the market soon, began as an ERP solution for schools in Delhi. 

Relationship and references played a major role for the founders during their initial  journey. Since they were already into computer education, many schools and managements “had confidence” when they started up. 

Shaji Thomas, Entab Co-founder

Entab was the first-of-its-kind school automation product in India. It was launched at a time when technology adoption was still scarce. Even then, the product found many takers; it has evolved through the years and is now a subscription based business. We have some of the biggest schools in India as clients,” Shaji says.

From an on-prem to SaaS solution

The ERP software - available in four variants - helps schools manage all administrative tasks, including student and staff information, attendance, fees, exam and result management, transport and GPS, and more. The school management system enables a seamless flow of data among principals, management, teachers, and parents.

The pre-school management software, apart from taking care of all administrative tasks, also tracks child development and increases parent engagement. 

The school management apps, which tap machine learning and data analytics, improve collaboration among all stakeholders, share information, provide notificatons, and focus on the child's development. This app lets the principal get a unified view of the school's functioning - from classroom content to attendance and payroll data.

Our solution was purely school management-centric for the initial few years. Gradually, the education system started to transform; teachers and parents also became important stakeholders. But the business still remained B2B,” Shaji says. 

There are several players in the edtech segment. The B2C segment is captured by big players like Vedantu and BYJU'S. The B2B and B2C segment differ considerably and the market is big enough for more than two to three players to thrive

According to the HRD Ministry and Education Ministry there are more than 1.5 million schools and more than 250 million students in the country

CampusCare ERP is a customised solution for K-12 institutions and covers 18 modules that fulfil all admin requirements of a school. The company has also launched an off-the-shelf solution, CampusSoft, a non-customised, cloud-based solution for economy or mainstream schools that do not require significant customisation. 

"Our ERP is fully integrated with all academic, administrative, and financial needs of a school. The portal or mobile app communication makes it possible to deliver all necessary outcomes to users,” Shaji says. 

Entab began as pioneers in the B2B SaaS segment for schools. The company is currently sitting on a massive opportunity with a captive audience of 1.4 million students and  parents who use Entab's  CampusCare App almost two to three times a day.

Over the last two years, the company has gone from being a B2B business to a B2B2C model.

The business 

According to the HRD and Education Ministries, there are more than 1.5 million schools and more than 250 million students in the country. Entab is presently serving 900 schools, 1.7 million students and parents, and 60,000 teachers. 

Lawrence Zacharias, Co-founder of Entab

Entab works primarily on a SaaS annuity subscription model. It charges on a per student, per month basis with contracts that are typically signed for three to five years.

Despite the pandemic, the business is growing 3X. It aims to sign up 3,000 schools and will scale to Rs 300 crore in a couple of years. The company claims to have a customer retention rate of 94 percent.

“Since our business model is sustainable, we are able to continue our innovation from time to time without any financial risk. Entab has always been a frontrunner in any new concept introduction or tech innovation with respect to the school ERP domain in India.

"The company has been focusing on selling SaaS solutions to CBSE and ICSE board schools. There is high demand from state board schools for automation. Ninety-five percent of state boards are not fully automated so far. The pandemic has made it mandatory for every school to have tech solutions. Over the next year, school systems will move completely towards digital platforms,” Shaji says. 

Entab started with five people; sales and marketing were taken care of by the founders. Fast forward 19 years, and it is a 300-employee company that generates a revenue of Rs 35 crore (as of FY20).

The company competes with players like Nagpur-based MasterSoft and Chennai-based Camu Digital.  It wants to scale rapidly and reach two million students by 2021.  

“We were not aware about any angel or seed fund during our early days. However, we are now looking to raise funds to scale rapidly. We think that being profitable for 15 years is a very good metric of the success of our business model success, and we hope investors would think the same way,” Shaji says. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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