[Startup Bharat] This Madhya Pradesh-based edtech platform is offering one-to-one learning to students
Nikhil Bhatnagar always wondered why there was a gap in education for kids coming from rural, urban, and developed countries. When he started taking tuitions to earn pocket money during his college days, he learnt that no educational platform or schools focused on one-to-one learning.
To fill the gap, Nikhil startedalong with his friend Mayank Shrivastava in 2020. The Jabalpur-based edtech startup focuses on one-to-one live learning in a language, Hindi and English both, that is comfortable to the student.
“We also teach subjects like personal finance, personality development, and more, which are not part of school curriculum,” says 26-year-old Nikhil.
He says the company was in the middle of the pandemic when he realised online tuition for kids was the need of the hour. Homeguruji teaches all subjects from class 1 to 12 in an interactive, small classroom of three-five children along with one-to-one live classes.
“We not only promote the students to study well but also teach them good habits, manners, and give them proper guidance in their respective field,” says 28-year-old Mayank.
The one-year-old platform, with a team of 12 people, has a community of 500 teachers and educators from institutions like IIT, NIT, Delhi University, and Jaipur University to name a few.
From home tutoring to edtech startup
The startup’s journey began in 2013 when Nikhil was studying at SGBM Institute of Technology and Science, Jabalpur. He wanted to be financially independent and so he started giving home tuitions while in college. During this time, he realised each student is different, and so he started giving one-on-one tuitions and started coaching educators on teaching students as well.
“School teachers and tuition centres are focussed only on completing the syllabus, and not on the student. Every student has his/her own potential to understand the concepts, and so it’s very difficult for them to understand the concepts in group classes,” he adds.
Nikhil also realised that unlike him, many college-going youngsters are not able to get any part-time work as there is no ecosystem in place for the same.
“This is when I realised that parents want quality teachers and youth want to be independent. So, if I train them and give them some coaching classes for home tuitions, this will solve both the problems,” says Nikhil.
The platform soon became an education solution for students from small towns and students who may have difficulty in other classes or English-only edtech platforms.
Nikhil says from the idea stage to the current stage, Homeguruji has been incubated at Jabalpur Smart City Incubation Center, where it got mentorship and guidance to move ahead. “The incubation has helped us to overcome every obstacle we are facing in our entrepreneurial journey,” he says.
Nikhil says the platform blends new-age tools with traditional ways of home-tuition, and lets parents track students’ growth, solves doubts, and opens the door for holistic learning.
Jabalpur as startup hub
Nikhil and Mayank have been raised in Jabalpur, and their mission is to make Jabalpur a startup hub.
Speaking about challenges, Nikhil says, finding investors and scaling from such cities could be challenging for startups, but for Homeguruji, being part of Jabalpur Incubation Centre really worked out well.
However, he adds that running an entrepreneurial venture from Jabalpur comes with ample opportunities as the cost of operation in Jabalpur is very less compared to big cities, and also the fact that the field is green, there are not many competitors.
Homegurji competes with the likes of BYJU’s and Unacademy, but Nikhil asserts that big players cannot match the support and services provided by the local teams.
He says there is no dearth of edtech platforms in India at the moment, but students who are not comfortable in English are still struggling.
Business model and funding
Homeguruji has raised a total of Rs 25 lakh in seed funding from angel investors like Pune-based Angel Investor Girjesh Vyas, facilitated by Jabalpur Smart City Incubation Center, Incubation Masters, and Hyderabad Angles.
The startup makes money on a revenue-sharing basis. The educators have listed their fee based on the subject and courses, ranging from Rs 1,500 to Rs 10,000 a month, and the startup takes a cut from each transaction.
The team claims to have helped over 1,000 students from across Madhya Pradesh, Jammu, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, etc., during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are adding 10 new students on average every day. In FY21, the startup claims to have clocked a revenue of Rs 20 lakh.
Going forward, Homeguruji wants to expand its offering with more educators and courses on its platform across India, focusing on students from non-English mediums.
“The next step for Homeguruji is to create the biggest community of world-class teachers and reach out to every corner of India. We will also add more specialised tuition for aspiring students preparing for government exams,” says Nikhil.
He says they will also introduce a special scholarship programme for those who cannot afford to take up these classes. They will be given one-year scholarship along with a laptop and internet connection for the complete year.
“We will launch this programme on Independence Day, August 15, 2021,” says Nikhil. A teacher at heart, Nikhil believes that holistic education can bring India on par with global standards, and he aims to do that with his startup.