[Startup Bharat] This Surat-based edtech platform is making graduates job-ready with the right upskilling
First-time entrepreneurs and finance professionals Pratik Bajaj, Kunal Shah, and Mahip Gupta early on realised that a majority of colleges are not teaching students the right skills to make them job-ready, which leads to a gap in hiring.
The trio decided to take it upon themselves to solve the issue and started Valuationary — a Surat-based edtech and HRtech startup — which helps students and professionals learn courses in finance and corporate soft skills and get bag better jobs.
Co-founder and CEO Pratik Bajaj (26) explains that Valuationary is an end-to-end upskilling and recruiting platform that helps candidates bag the right finance jobs and corporates find the right talent.
He says that CAs, CFAs, and MBAs find it hard to bag a deserving finance job because of the lack of practical skills required for the job. On the other hand, corporates struggle to get quality talent even after spending exuberant amounts of time, money and effort.
To date, Valuationary has taught and helped over 5,000 candidates find jobs from institutes, including LSE, U-Warwick, SRCC, IIMs, CFA, CA, etc., at PWC, KPMG, Goldman Sachs, and D.E.Shaw, to name a few.
Recently, Pratik shares one of the startup’s candidates — who had finished her Bachelor’s degree — got placed at D.E.Shaw at a respectable over Rs 20 lakh CTC because of the unique practical skills she developed at Valuationary.
How it started
Pratik and Chief Operating Officer Kunal (25) developed a deep interest in business valuations while working together at a boutique investment firm for about two years. Realising their common interest, they started doing valuation reports for investment banks over the weekends as freelancers.
With their weekend workload increasing considerably, the duo decided to scout colleagues. Although they spent a substantial amount of time screening multiple applicants from top B-schools and colleges, they failed to find the perfect fit for the job.
This struggle made Pratik and Kunal realise the practical knowledge required at the workplace is nowhere to be found in the Indian education system, leading to a gaping hole between an employee’s skill set and an employer’s expectations, especially in the financial services industry.
To overcome this problem of structural unemployment, they started Valuationary in January 2020. Earlier, it was just Kunal and Pratik teaching virtual classes. However, they wanted to convert their live Zoom classes into an edtech platform.
While they were mulling the edtech idea, they met 26-year-old Mahip Gupta (CPO) — a fellow schoolmate of Pratik — who had worked with Indian edtech startups Your Pocket Classroom and Gradeazy.
Together, they pooled an initial capital of Rs 10 lakh to develop and deploy the edtech platform and formally launched Valuationary in October 2020.
At present, the startup has a team of 18 members and 20 domain experts, teaching courses like financial modelling and business valuation, and credit analysis and hedge fund accounting.
Market and competition
Valuationary upskills graduates with the help of industry leaders for technical and corporate soft skills, who can find appropriate jobs at financial firms, reducing employee’s training downtime to a minimum.
In terms of competition, the startup competes with Imarticus and BSE Institute.
He adds, “However, our success-based fee model, pure online modules, and case-based pedagogy by industry leaders make us stand out from our peer group.”
Business model and future plans
Valuationary charges the candidates only when they get placed, thus calling it a success-based fee.
Pratik claims the startup’s current monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is about Rs 3 lakh and is growing at 30 percent per month.
After re-investing the revenues as funds in the startup, in the past year, Valutionary has raised an undisclosed pre-seed round from— a Singapore-based angel fund — and has also bagged a startup grant from the Gujarat government.
At present, the startup is looking to raise $500,000 to hire talent and expand in international markets, starting with Africa.
“We plan to place over 1000 candidates by the end of 2022 on our income-sharing agreement model (ISA), growing our ARR past Rs 5 crore. We also plan to raise funds to roll out our app and increase our base in the African market. We also have a roadmap ready to increase our bandwidth and develop dedicated HR solutions,” Mahip says.