This startup by former BYJU’S execs wants to make students job-ready

Started by PN Santosh with his BYJU’S colleague Krithika Srinivasan, and former business consultant Prasanna Alagesan, CareerLabs is offering skill building programmes for graduates to help with higher studies and job placements.
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When PN Santosh was building BYJU’S, India’s biggest edtech startup, he realised there was more to education than just targeting the K-12 segment. 

“One of the biggest problems for young graduates is that they are not work-ready. The education they have received in their undergraduate programmes does not prepare them for the real world, and workplace executives are already quite tied up to train them,” PN Santosh tells YourStory.

To help students in their professional journey, Santosh joined hands with former BYJU’S (Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd.) executive Krithika Srinivasan and Prasanna Alagesan, a former business consultant and IIM Bangalore alumnus, to start CareerLabs in 2019. 

Run by CareerLab Technology Pvt. Ltd., the Bengaluru-based startup helps students studying in undergraduate courses with skill-building programmes for higher studies and job placements. 

“Pre-final year students are our primary target because it is easier to build a base with them and understand their career choices,” says Santosh, who is an ISB alumnus. 

The startup claims to be having over one lakh students, out of which 30,000 are active users on the platform and close to 3,000 have subscribed for its paid programmes. 

How does it work?

Before the pandemic, CareerLabs team would visit campuses across India and conduct workshops to showcase its offerings. However, since the pandemic, the startup is conducting online workshops and does social media marketing to onboard students and create brand awareness.

To begin with, interested students need to give a psychometric test to determine the fields they might be interested in. 

The startup, with a team of 171, offers over 85 courses for students in programming language C++, machine learning, and design engineering, among others, to upskill them. 

It also provides certificate courses from companies including Microsoft and Hewlett Packard, and finally helps students in finding jobs. The startup also partners with these industry leaders in co-creating their courses. 

The startup is offering a few courses from BYJU’S as well and will be offering more competitive exam courses soon. 

As of now, there are mostly engineering students taking up the courses. But going forward, CareerLabs wants to onboard arts and commerce students as well to make them job-ready.

Santosh says, Pharmacy, for instance, is a big industry in India. But when it comes to the number of students who are trained, it is very limited. CareerLabs is looking to offer courses for students in other fields to grow their knowledge. 

So far, the startup has helped engineering students get placed at food delivery platform Zomato, ecommerce giant Flipkart, HDFC Bank, and multinational conglomerate Larsen and Toubro, among many other companies across sectors. 

CareerLabs' process from onboarding undergraduate students to getting them job ready

While Santosh did not reveal the number of students placed so far, he said at least three to four recruitments happen every day. 

The startup charges anywhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 40,000 per year for its master’s and test prep courses. 

The market and funding 

The edtech sector saw a huge boom in 2020 as the pandemic forced students to stay at home and look for online classes. 

Edtech unicorn BYJU’S raised $460 million in Series F round at a valuation of upwards of $13 billion. Another competitor in the exam prep space, Vedantu, raised $100 million in July 2020 as demand for online teaching platforms grew. 

CareerLabs also raised $2.2 million in a pre-series A round from a clutch of investors during the pandemic. 

Such investments in the edtech sector are only bound to grow as many students have shifted to online learning due to the pandemic.  

Online education is projected to increase 6.3 times to create a $1.7 billion market,  between Class I and XII, according to venture capital firm Omidyar Network India and research firm Red Seer’s joint report. The post-K-12 market is expected to grow 3.7 times to create a $1.8 billion market. 

CareerLabs is currently competing with Temasek-backed UpGrad, and San Francisco-headquartered Udemy, among many others, in skill development. 

Future plans

Going forward, CareerLabs is looking to grow its student base. The startup is already approaching undergraduate students from commerce and liberal arts streams to join the platform. The aim is to onboard between 6,000 and 8,000 students by the end of the current financial year.

“We are in the initial stage of talks. But we do realise that these students would be different from engineering students and we are in the process of designing new courses,” says Santosh. 

Currently, CareerLabs, which was only working as a web-based platform, is working on a mobile-based application to attract students. The firm is also offering incentives in the form of gifts to those who register now for the app.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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