This Faridabad-based virtual learning startup lets users pursue their hobbies from renowned artists
Many people have found a way to turn their hobbies and passions into ventures. But, Gaurav Dua, Arpit Tyagi, and Lakshay Rohilla – all in their mid-twenties – are turning others' hobbies into their own business with .
Started during the first lockdown in 2020, Faridabad-based Hobit offers a virtual platform dedicated to hobbies, created for both learners and educators. The platform operates on four key aspects – community, live virtual learning, practice, and competitions.
The founders of Hobit claims to provide 360-degree solutions, such as an option of shopping merchandise products online, free tutorial videos for practice, education and awareness about a particular topic, and live video tutorials in form of modules from renowned artists.
“Hobit provides a complete ecosystem of hobbies by providing mentorship, direction, guidance, peer group support, and motivation,” says 24-year-old Co-founder and CEO Gaurav Dua.
Some of the hobbies on the platform include rapping, yoga, Zumba, dance, cooking, music, and more – which are taught by renowned people from the space. Some of them are Prince Sharma, Season 6 Master Chef finalist; MC Headshot, rapper and finalist of Redbull Spotlight Mx Player; Meenal Pathak, celebrity Zumba instructor; Raj Sharma, Dance India Dance Season 4 contestant; and Pablo Dutta, rapper, music producer, and songwriter.
Arpit tells that Hobit has tutors – not just from India, but also the UAE and Bahrain. He also says that the content taught on Hobit is unique as there is a contract between the tutor and the company to provide unique teaching content. “You can say they are Hobit specialists,” says Arpit, COO of Hobit.
The platform went live in January 2021, and since then, it claims to have created a hobby-focused social media platform cum edtech platform with a user base of 20,000, most of whom are paid users. Hobit’s app is currently available on both Android and iOS, and the startup will soon roll out a web app as well.
How it started
Gaurav, Arpit, and Lakshay – all had hobbies growing up, but due to lack of attention to extracurricular activities and social pressure of choosing a mainstream career, they pursued careers such as engineering, consulting, and family business, respectively.
Gaurav recalls that he was always a backbencher in school and was inclined towards rapping and music. But, he says, due to lack of proper guidance, support, direction, and peer group, he was not able to pursue rapping. He studied commerce at graduation and then did Masters in Marketing and International Business. He was fascinated with the startup ecosystem, so he started a career of jobs in startups.
Similar to Gaurav, his schoolmate, Lakshay, who was interested in sports and fitness while growing up, had to join the family business of wholesale appliances. Arpit, their common friend, too, had pursued a career in finance, calling it quits on his passion for film-making and screenwriting.
When the first coronavirus-led lockdown happened in March 2020, Lakshay, Arpit, and Gaurav reconnected and agreed that pursuing a hobby is challenging due to the lack of ecosystem, community, motivation, and even accessibility. Gaurav shares that the trio also realised how they all were interested in joining the blazing startup ecosystem, and wanted to start an entrepreneurial journey themselves. This was the turning point.
“That’s how the plan of Hobit came in our mind,” says Gaurav. After conceiving the idea, the trio did extensive market research to know the pain point of the industry and the demand for various hobbies. “We also surveyed people, and most of them said that they were unable to pursue their hobby due to lack of knowledge and ecosystem,” adds Gaurav. This led them to launch Hobit in June 2020.
The trio put together Rs 6 lakh from their own savings, and friends and family, to build the platform. By October, they all quit their jobs to start working on Hobit full-time, and the platform went live in January 2021.
Market and uniqueness
Pursuing hobby learning is poised to become the next big thing in edtech. According to a report by PGA Labs and IVCA, India’s education sector is poised to grow from $117 billion in 2021 to $225 billion by 2025, and one of the key upcoming trends include extra-curricular learning platforms imparting vocational skill training such as music, dancing, cooking, etc.
Some of the startups in the same space include YellowClass, KYT, FrontRow, Unlu, and leading players like SkillShare.
Lakshay, CTO of Hobit, claims that Hobit stands out for its live interactive sessions by renowned tutors for all age groups, while other platforms focus on recorded sessions, and platforms like KYT and Yellow Class focus on children. “Hobit focuses on working professionals, youngsters, homemakers, and is open to all ages starting from 10 years old,” he adds.
“We stand out from them by providing a complete ecosystem of hobbies – community support, direction, hobby-based groups – and that too at pocket-friendly prices,” claims Gaurav. He adds that Hobit stands out from its competitors by engaging with an interactive community of peer groups on hobby-based social media where people learn from each other. The prices range between Rs 299 and Rs 799 per course.
Business model and growth numbers
Hobit runs on B2B and B2C models. While it charges some fees from its users, it also has a revenue-sharing model with tutors. Hobit doesn’t hire any tutors but takes a cut from tutors on the platform. Gaurav clarifies that the platform also has some free courses, which are pre-recorded. The startup also provides customised extra-curricular solutions to educational institutions and corporates.
After its launch on January 14, the platform clocked 1,000 users in two months, which has now grown to more than 20,000 users as of today. It has so far eight B2B clients as well. Gaurav says that Hobit is clocking monthly revenue of Rs 1 lakh, which is growing significantly, month-on-month. He attributes the growth to positive word of mouth and a community-driven approach. In one year, the team has grown to 16 members from three founders last year.
Funding and plans
Hobit has raised undisclosed angel funding from Rajasthan-based. It is now looking forward to raising funding of Rs 2 crore to scale its operations and penetrate deeper into India, especially Tier-II and III cities.
The company is targeting five million users in the next 12-18 months, and even expand the offering to international markets, starting from gulf countries. “We will keep advancing our technology, add more hobbies, and more personalised classes,” says Gaurav.