This edtech startup prepares youngsters for government and competitive exams

Started as a YouTube channel by Vivek Kumar, a former teacher in Bulandshahr, online learning platform Exampur has notched up 10 million subscribers across 26 channels, and provides prep for UPSC, MBA, and other competitive exams.
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Armed with a white board, marker, and a vision to make education accessible to children in his city, Vivek Kumar, a computer engineer, started online learning platform Exampur

“Accessing good quality education has always been a challenge in small towns of India. Exampur is looking to solve just that,” says Vardaan Gandhi, Co-founder at Exampur. 

Vivek, who passed out from IEC College of Engineering in Noida and gave tuitions to younger kids in his town, Bulandshahr, started Exampur’s YouTube channel in June 2018 by creating and uploading videos. 

The platform, run under Learning Closet Pvt Ltd, offers courses for government exam preparation, with a hybrid model that provides offline and online teaching facilities to aspirants from Tier II, III, and IV cities. 

The platform, which offers scheduled-based learning with live and doubt-solving sessions, runs 26 channels as of now and has racked up at least 10 million subscribers.

Apart from YouTube, the firm also has a website and an app, where it offers courses in different price ranges. Four lakh students have subscribed to the paid courses, and the app has two to three lakh daily active users. 

In the beginning

Exampur may be thriving now, but it wasn’t easy in the beginning. 

“In the initial days, videos would only get views in double digits. But once students started liking the way we taught, the numbers started growing every day,” Vardaan says.

 

Before joining the edtech platform, Vardaan, a computer science engineer, was researching the edtech space. He met Vivek while working on one of his projects and later joined Exampur full time.

Vardaan Gandhi (left) met Exampur's founder Vivek Kumar (right) virtually, while researching the edtech space

“Teaching on YouTube was not at all easy. By the time I joined, Vivek had already figured out methods to improve his teaching. All I had to do was grow the business and get more students. 

“But Vivek faced many challenges when he started. The internet connection was a problem. Sometimes there would be a lot of background noise as most lessons would be conducted in one room,” Vardaan says. 

As the YouTube Channels started gaining more traction, the team relocated to Delhi in October 2018. Currently, they provide their teaching staff proper training to teach students live and a studio-like room for conducting these sessions.  

What it does

Exampur at present operates in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. 

A one-year UPSC prep course could cost anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 while a-soon-to-be-launched one-year training programme for Secondary State Certificate (SSC) exams could cost Rs 100. 

All sessions are conducted live, either on YouTube or their platform, with a large number of students. For instance, a UPSC class could have 1,500-2,000 students.

The learning platform also offers a subscription model, giving students access to doubt-solving sessions, detailed lectures, and more.

Credit: YourStory Design

“Our strategy is to play on the volume. Less prices attract more students,” says Vardaan, adding that the teaching quality does not suffer due to the “training given to faculty members”. 

A large chunk of their investment goes into the teaching staff. “If we are targeting more students from Bihar, we would hire teachers who are locals. Students lose interest as soon as there is a teacher they do not relate with. Hiring locally has worked really well for us,” Vardaan says. 

Currently, there are at least 550 members in the team. These include 150-200 education staff, which develops course books and notes for students. 

The future of education

The edtech sector has seen a major boom during the pandemic as at-home students did not have much of a choice but to head online. 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.

According to venture capital firm Omidyar Network India and research firm Red Seer, online education is projected to increase 6.3X to create a $1.7 billion market, between Class 1 and 12. The post-K12 market is expected to grow 3.7X to create a $1.8 billion market.

Exampur, which started with a total investment of Rs 2.5 crore, claims to be profitable and clocking revenues of Rs 5-6 crore per month. The revenues are expected to grow 5-6X, touching Rs 100 crore in FY22, from the existing 4x growth. 

The Delhi-based firm now plans to launch training for banking sector exams, Common Aptitude Test (CAT), and CBSE and SSC board exams. It aims to enter Maharashtra and increase its foothold in Uttar Pradesh.     

The startup is scaling rapidly and actively looking for investors to accelerate growth, with BIORx Venture Advisors, a Noida-based advisory firm, exclusively working on the fund raise.   

But the edtech market is not easy to crack.

Apart from having high customer acquisition costs to scale, Exampur will also be competing with Softbank-backed Unacademy, which has so far raised $398.5 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, among many other edtech giants.  

However, Exampur is looking at growth - online and offline. Launching offline tuition centres is on the cards next. “We work on feedback from our students, and they want us to start teaching offline,” Vardaan says. 

Exampur plans to launch at least eight centres in states where it is operational to start with.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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