This AI-powered edtech startup helps schools make education more data-driven
An educationist, Sushil Agrawal knew that India’s education system had a gap between the marks scored and knowledge attained.
“A score of 80 percent does not always translate into 80 percent education. There is a huge gap between marks and knowledge, especially in schools in Tier II and Tier III cities where there are challenges of resources,” Sushil tells YourStory.
This led him to foundin 2018.
The B2B edtech company offers products that bring school curriculum, technology, teacher training, and pedagogy on a single platform.
The Ahmedabad-based startup, which began by partnering with five schools in Gujarat, has expanded its partnership to 1,100 schools across India for its SaaS (software-as-a-service) product.
"Technology enables the identification of the tiniest data points, which helps to fill the gaps in teaching and learning,” the Founder and CEO of Saarthi Pedagogy says.
How it started
After graduating in 2009, Sushil decided that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. Having been a “scholar student'' all his life, he wanted to make a mark in the field of education.
He founded an English-medium pre-school, Maharaja Agrasen Public School, in 2009 in Ahmedabad, and eventually opened another school in the same city.
“From 2009 to 2016, I understood the education system and gained experience running schools at the ground level. In 2016, I became more ambitious. At first, I thought of opening more schools, but then I realised that there were problems to be addressed,” Sushil recalls.
While he was involved in operations, he realised that to expand to more schools, he needed to put processes in place. However, the only data that had been collected at schools was marks and attendance, which did not give him clarity about the school’s performance, or how to plan ahead.
“This led to the idea of processes that help measure the quality of the academics. In every business, there has to be a barometer to test what is being done, and the current education system lacks that. It took me the next four years to develop pedagogy to improve the learning outcome, and which can help the management measure the performance of teachers and students,” he says.
Sushil founded Saarthi Pedagogy to focus on India’s mid-sized schools, which charge fees between Rs 1,500 and Rs 10,000 per month.
“We want to focus on schools at the bottom of the pyramid because they are facing real problems. Schools that charge above Rs 40,000 per month can hire better teachers and develop quality infrastructure,” he adds.
How it works
Saarthi provides schools with online and offline products for both teachers and students.
It provides schools with a dashboard that gives an overview of the entire school’s performance, including students and teachers. Apart from tracking attendance, the platform tracks every student’s performance on tests.
The company identifies common problems students face, based on their performance, and gives teachers visibility on the gaps in learning.
The startup offers 19 products and services through its platform, including practice worksheets, notes, textbooks, PPAP (Production Part Approval Process) lesson plans, question paper generators, 365-day training support, smart class content, internal marks mechanism, PTM (parent-teacher meeting) management, parents query management, and auto supervision.
Saarthi's flagship product is an AI-based auto homework generator, which produces homework for students based on their performances on tests. The software, for which the company is in the process of procuring patents and proprietary licences, assesses the test performance to determine the areas of weakness and creates homework for a student based on the analysis.
“When you focus on these small changes in the school’s system, it leads to larger changes and a better learning outcome,” Sushil says.
The app-based platform, which is compatible with both iOS and Android, also assists teachers in creating lesson plans, searching supporting videos, tracking attendance, and creating periodic plans.
The offline products include an academic kit and a STEM kit that contains textbooks, masks, stickers, and games. The whole suit costs between Rs 2,000 and Rs 2,500 per student per year. The startup doesn’t charge the school.
Saarthi’s technology team currently has 45 employees.
Business and future plans
Sushil started the business with just three employees, by investing the profits he made at his schools.
The edtech startup raised $1 million in funding from JITO Angel Network, LetsVenture, and Ecosystem Ventures in June 2021. In March 2022, it raised $2.1 million as part of its Pre-Series A round of funding led by Pinnacle Investment, the family office of promoter Irfan Razack, and Venkat K Narayana, CEO of real estate group Prestige.
“We were never a COVID-19-centric model. The pandemic didn’t affect our operations as we have a hybrid product comprising physical and virtual products,” Sushil says.
In FY22, the startup claims to have clocked more than $1.5 million in revenue.
In the coming fiscal, Saarthi plans to reach out to 4,000 schools and six lakh students with its technology-enabled platforms.
Saarthi, which competes with the likes of Mintbook, My Class Campus, Uolo, LMS of India, and Blackboard, is also looking to raise another round of funding and is in talks with investors.
The global learning management system market size was $14.43 billion in 2021. The market is expected to grow from $16.19 billion in 2022 to $40.95 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 14.2 percent during the forecast period.
The rising demand for smart and interactive learning platforms and growing trend of multichannel learning are expected to fuel market progress, according to a report by Fortune Business Insights.