From classroom to boardroom, edtech startup Clever Harvey makes MBA possible for kids

Madhu Agrawal and Sriram Subramaniam’s edtech startup Clever Harvey helps high school students be better prepared for future career decisions.
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Here's an edtech company that enables its young customers to take their careers on a test drive!

Clever Harvey, founded by Sriram Subramaniam and Madhu Agrawal in early 2020, allows students to explore their future careers with the help of intense 10-day training programmes in various roles.

"Clever Harvey is incepted from a pain that we have all felt. We were always asked by uncles and aunties 'bade hokar kya banna chahte ho?' (what do you want to be when you grow up?)," says Madhu.

As kids, our understanding of what adults do in offices was very limited. When it was time for decision-making, exposure was lacking. So, we designed a simple solution — 10-day immersive courses where students learn the core skills of that career and decide whether it suits them," she adds.

Clever Harvey currently offers a Junior MBA programme, with Junior CEO, Junior CTO, and Junior CMO courses being the most popular. The startup will add more career courses in the future. It also offers quick courses on how businesses such as Flipkart, Cadbury and Reliance work.

The early days

Both Sriram and Madhu had one thing in common - they had both switched multiple careers by the age of 25. And having recognised that switching careers or fields was becoming increasingly popular, the duo understood that with some foundational skills like logical thinking, decision-making, resilience, and an entrepreneurial mindset, the transition could be made easy. They also realised that while there was no dearth of a variety of career options, most students were either simply unaware or did not have the opportunities to understand what these careers entailed.

"The K-12 edtech industry is interesting in its rapid evolution. For the longest time, it was all about academics and test prep. However, in the past few years, there has been increased awareness amongst parents and schools of the need to build real-world skills," says Madhu.

She adds that WhiteHat Jr’s success is a testament to the fact that parents are keen to give their children an early start on real-world skills. "We are bringing the same opportunity to the Arts and Commerce students who are seventy percent of the market."

When the company was launched, the founders took to advertising through Facebook. They designed email campaigns and called the first 100 inquiries themselves. This approach led to a good understanding of the market and what people were looking for.

Clever Harvey was born during the pandemic. The blueprint that the founders had for the original launch had to be thrown away in mid-March when they realised that things were going to go online for a while.

"We were watching the scenario unfold in China and HK, and we decided we must act decisively. In two weeks, we pivoted to re-designing our product, communication channels and operations to be 100 percent online. We launched successfully in April. Now, as we scale, we are grappling with the challenges of hiring and building a team in remote working conditions which are new to everybody," says Madhu.

The business model revolves around the online Junior MBA for young achievers in classes 8 to 12, which is India’s first such programme. What makes the programme unique is that it is a live platform that exposes students to the corporate world and equips them with cognitive skills for an uncertain tomorrow.

In just eight months since launch, they have clocked more than Rs 1 crore in revenue on this new concept.

The next 18 months

Initially, the founders started the company by investing Rs 1 crore each. Later, they raised seed funding from Education Catalyst Fund and are looking to raise Series-A round soon. Clever Harvey has a suite of corporate tie-ups, and have created real-world projects to give students the opportunities to apply their skills and build up a portfolio of work.

The traction so far proves that there is an appetite for learning even beyond coding. Clever Harvey is now expanding its portfolio of offerings to Junior Designer series, aimed at the Humanities/Arts students - which consist of a Junior Architect, Junior GameMaker and Junior GraphicDesigner. It will also create options like Junior Journalist and a Junior Lawyer series.

"We're also reaching out to partner with MNCs to develop mini case-studies based on their organisations that students can solve as part of a 'virtual internship'. For the businesses we partner with, this offers free engagement with the teenage segment," says Madhu.

According to her, over 1000 students are already enrolled in a freemium offering.

Approximately 45 percent of its total students are from outside the metros — from smaller towns in Jammu, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Assam and Karnataka. The pandemic has levelled the playing field and given students from Tier II towns a chance to channel their aspirations.

Over 50 percent of the students enrolled have signed up for all three courses offered currently. The Junior CEO option is the most popular - reflecting the rising profile of startups in India and the growing recognition of entrepreneurship as a legitimate career option (even beyond the business communities). The cost for three courses is Rs 13,000.

Clever Harvey hopes to bridge the gap between academics and the real world by assisting students to develop essential skills for success like critical thinking, advanced problem solving, spotting patterns and optimising solutions, planning and budgeting, and innovation.

The programmes are designed to help kids develop commercial acumen and get industry exposure at a young age. Most kids are aware of jobs that engineers, doctors, or even architects do, but few are aware of what a CEO or CTO does.

As it plans to scale its revenues and business partners, Clever Harvey's founders believe that given the right exposure and direction, any child can succeed in their chosen field. And helping them be better prepared are the edtech startups, who are leaving no stone unturned in exploring the many options available.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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