IvyCap Ventures-backed PurpleTutor teaches kids how to build apps, games, and Harry Potter-style invisibility cloaks
India’s live coding frenzy began in August 2020 when BYJU’S paid a whopping $300 million for a 20-month-old startup that taught school children how to code.
Even though live coding platforms existed before, the WhiteHat Jr acquisition put the spotlight on a new but rapidly-growing segment of edtech.
Additionally, research shows that early childhood is critical for cognitive development. Hence, most coding startups are out to catch them young to build problem-solving, logical reasoning, and critical thinking skills.
Mumbai-based PurpleTutor, which focuses on the 6-16 age group, started with the goal of making future tech leaders out of school-going children.
Founded in 2019 by IIT-B alumni Gaurav Perti and Yatish Gupta, the startup offers live coding classes to build computational and creative thinking skills in K-12 students.
Founder and CEO Gaurav tells YourStory,
“We realised skill-building for the future is going to be very important as 30-40 percent of jobs get automated. Research states that 60 percent of students will work in a career that doesn't exist today. Schools have a curriculum that is not very market-relevant. The pace of learning is standardised, and private tutoring is not tech-savvy.”
“Most cognitive development takes place between 2-14 years. If one focuses on building critical skills from that age, we would arm them for the future,” he says.
PurpleTutor launched its live courses and acquired its first customer in September 2019. It claims to have crossed 100,000 registered users in 18 months.
What kids learn on PurpleTutor
PurpleTutor offers live interactive classes on Python, Scratch, Artificial Intelligence, 3D game design, web development, Roblox, and data science (for older students).
Its curriculum has been developed by Carnegie Mellon, Amazon, and Google alumni, and is based on MIT's lifelong kindergarten group.
Each course typically has 100 live sessions conducted in 1:1 or 1:4 formats. The startup has built a proprietary scheduling system to match students with the right teachers.
PurpleTutor also mandates every instructor to have a formal Computer Science degree, and follows a stringent selection process before onboarding them.
It conducts in-house teacher training programmes to help them build personalised learning paths for students as per their creative ideas, ability, and interest.
“The challenge was to create AI-driven learning paths and to do that at scale. We have built mechanisms where teachers can design these customised learning paths based on what the student needs. It could depend on their gender or activities and projects they have done or their prior knowledge. Personalisation is at the core of our offering.”
All of PurpleTutor’s 250+ teachers are women. “We believe women can make a greater connection with children at an early age,” says the founder.
Growth and operations
The startup claims to have achieved product-market fit across territories. Almost 80-90 percent of its business comes from international markets, primarily Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
It is now trying to build a presence in North America.
PurpleTutor claims that learners on its platform are spread across 50 countries and have completed 20,000+ projects. Several apps developed by these learners are available on app stores.
Sendpl.us, designed by an Indian student, is a quick and secure way to transfer data across devices.
Invisibility Cloak, a Harry Potter-style prop, was designed using computer vision libraries as part of PurpleTutor’s Advanced Python and AI course. Another has built a smart home system that uses ML models to control virtual devices with voice commands.
The platform has achieved a Net Promoter Score (NPS), a key metric in edtech, of 74.
Gaurav says, “We’ve got an exceedingly strong response in international markets because the product acceptance is much higher. There is also a greater ability to pay, and higher acceptance of Computer Science education. Children also get introduced to devices much earlier in developed markets.”
The startup’s revenues have grown 16X since launch, and it has hit an ARR of $1.5 million, with positive gross margins.
PurpleTutor looks to cross one million users and $25 million in ARR in the next one year. It will also grow its teacher base to 2,200. And in the next five years, it wants to touch an ARR of $1 billion.
Funding and future roadmap
Earlier this year, the startup raised $300,000 in a seed round led by IvyCap Ventures. The round also saw participation from angel investors, including Simplilearn Founder Krishna Kumar, and others.
PurpleTutor plans to use the funds to strengthen its technology platform, acquire new customers, and expand its footprint.
Vikram Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner, IvyCap Ventures, said,
“Keeping in view with India’s vision for Digital India, a child’s inherent curiosity and promptness to adopt new technologies must be tapped in every possible way. Thus, it gives me immense pleasure to associate with PurpleTutor that has excellent potential to bring forth cutting-edge courses for making every child future-ready.”
The startup is also looking to close a Series A round later this year.
PurpleTutor operates in a competitive live coding segment, with a plethora of startups like WhiteHat Jr, Codingal, Tekie, Codeyoung, Tinker Coders, StayQrious, Camp K12, CodeVidhya, Dcoder, Coding Ninjas, and others.
All these cater to a K-12 population of over 280 million in a live learning market estimated to be about $9-10 billion.
According to Transparency Market Research,
“The online coding for kids market in APAC is expected to hold a significant share due to the rising population in developing countries such as China and India. In addition, the governments of developing countries are investing more to enhance the educational sector.”
The startup believes that the pandemic-induced demand for STEM learning — and online education in general — will not fade away soon.
“Better internet bandwidth has made live learning a reality. Geographies have become borderless now. Live learning acceptance has accelerated. Some of these changes will be permanent and hybrid learning models will come up,” says Gaurav.
And PurpleTutor is building to scale — not only in India, but also internationally.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta