This edtech startup is streamlining processes at schools by digitising daily tasks and improving parental involvement
“Helping people solve problems with technology excites me most because the gratitude I get post that is magical. And that motivates me to continue on the journey,” recalls Abhiraj Malhotra, Co-founder and CEO, SchoolPad.
A tech enthusiast since his school days, Abhiraj always wanted to build something useful – a service or solution that simplifies things for users. This enthusiasm led him to launch SchoolPad, a school management software used by educators to manage students’ progress and records, and keep parents informed.
The early days
After graduating from college, Abhiraj bagged a job at Infosys, a move supported by his parents who wanted him to get a stable corporate job, as opposed to chasing his entrepreneurial dreams. “Belonging to a middle class family, securing a job in your first campus placement is a big deal and you can’t say ‘no’ to it. I didn't want to go ahead with it, but then I made a deal with my parents. They asked me to go for a bond period and figured that this is a good way to get me to stay at the job. During my entire journey at Infosys, I learned how to manage and build teams, work in teams across different geographies, write good emails, and so on. All of my learnings helped me launch SchoolPad in 2013,” he shares.
After his corporate stint, Abhiraj worked on a few products which didn’t work. But a discussion in a school changed the course of his journey. He says that while talking to teachers, he figured that the school was using software that posed problems. Despite this, the school wanted to continue using technology as it could solve administrative issues and teachers could focus on teaching. He realised that parents preferred schools that provided an experience to both students as well as parents. Feedback, frequent communication, and updating the parent regularly about the child’s growth are all factors parents looked for.
Abhiraj was intrigued and visited the school for the next few days to discuss the issues in further detail. He realised he could build something to solve a lot of their problems. “That is how we built a prototype and we started with two schools. And SchoolPad was born,” he says. Abhiraj hired interns from his own college, and two of them went on to become the startup’s co-founders – Danish Kundra and Amanveer Singh.
How SchoolPad works
The team offers a suite of solutions on a single platform wherein schools can manage their student data. The first thing they do is create the digital profile of each and every child. From the point the child enters school to when they leave, their entire journey is recorded on the software.
Typically, when it comes to examinations, teachers have to manually check the paper, calculate the marks and write those on an Excel sheet. SchoolPad helps them manage it through their examination management platform on which schools can generate report cards automatically and even share them online with parents.
Next, SchoolPad’s fee management platform helps schools go online with the fee collections. Automatic reminders are set and the platform also generates reports to ensure better transparency of what they've collected, what is still pending, and more.
Further, their communication platform helps the school manage communication with parents. “We have a one-way communication system, which are the daily notifications, updates about events, image galleries. And then, there is also a two-way communication system wherein parents can send their queries or discuss issues, clarify certain things, after which teachers or certain people from the school's team can address these queries,” explains Abhiraj.
While Schoolpad isn’t a new product in the market, the founder clarifies, they take the effort to understand a school’s needs. “Fundamentally, it boils down to one factor - to help schools build their processes. If they have their underlying processes built, they can use the software to map those processes. The software can then help them optimise or automate those processes. And that is how they can perhaps manage their school better or take it to the next level,” he says.
The NIXI nudge
SchoolPad has been an online B2B SaaS offering from the start. “Not just the software but even for sales and support, we had to have a strong online presence,” says Abhiraj. For a team whose mission was to bring about a digital transformation in the processes of Indian schools, opting for a .in domain name was always the plan. Abhiraj adds that buying their .in domain was very easy, and finding available names was easier as compared to .com.
Like SchoolPad, the National Internet Exchange for India (NIXI) is helping hundreds of startups across the country to get a .in or .Bharat domain. Apart from cost-effectiveness, another advantage of getting a domain name from NIXI is that one can choose from 22 languages. This will help businesses be more visible to the right audience.
Websites are critical for online businesses, feels Abhiraj. “If you are building a business for Indian customers, a .in domain is the best way to go forward due to the easy availability of finding names. From a customer’s point of view, a .in domain name reassures them that the company is easily accessible, easy to communicate, and work with. Hence, it adds to the trust and comfort of the customer,” he says.
The way ahead
As more and more schools were forced to adopt digital models of teaching owing to the pandemic, Abhiraj says that the challenge wasn’t the demand but the short time span they had to work in. Today, SchoolPad has a team of 20 people, who work with 25 to 30 schools every year and the numbers are only rising. Currently, the edtech startup has over 300 partner schools.
Abhiraj dreams of a future where SchoolPad will be one of the most trustworthy organisations, when it comes to running a school with the help of technology. “When we see a school which has been using SchoolPad for the past few years, they say ‘we cannot run our processes without SchoolPad’. So we hope to see that 10 years down the line as well. We want to bring in more organised processes and make sure that parents are involved too,” he signs off.
The ‘Shaping India Inc's Online Growth’ series chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how creating an online presence on the .in or .Bharat domain powered their success stories.