[Product Roadmap] Edtech startup Doubtnut is helping students prepare for exams with easily accessible technology
India’s after-school coaching culture has boomed in the last two decades, but access to good coaching centres is limited to those who stay in the cities and can afford it.
Edtech platformis helping students from cities and villages access quality education at their fingertips.
Founded in 2016 by IIT Delhi alumni Tanushree Nagori and Aditya Shankar, the platform has instant video solutions to the questions submitted by the students. Students just need to click on the question and they get a video solution within five seconds.
Doubtnut’s proprietary Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and image matching algorithm analyses the questions asked by students and matches them to video solutions present in their video library, which has more than 30 lakh video solutions. The search results are then personalised and ranked as per students’ preferences to ensure maximum relevancy.
The startup claims almost five million questions were asked on the platform every month in the last three years. Its daily active students also grew 20X during the same period, with more than two lakh paid users for its online courses.
From offline coaching to online teaching
Tanushree and Aditya were teaching students in an offline coaching centre when they realised most doubts could be answered with ease.
“We realised a number of students came across with the same doubts and we couldn’t help all of them during the class. But there could be a simpler solution. That’s when we thought of making video solutions to some of the biggest problems,” says co-founder Aditya.
The duo began sending out video solutions through WhatsApp to their students post the coaching sessions. When they saw its success, they decided to develop the idea further into a video solution-sharing platform.
“Our aim was to solve every student’s doubt at any given point in time at their comfort like even when they were doing their homework/self-study, we should be able to solve their doubts instantly and not wait for any teacher or friend to help them out,” says Aditya.
About 85 percent of students on Doubtnut come from outside of the top six cities--Lucknow, Bihar, Patna, Jaipur, Kota, and Indore. The majority of users come from low economic backgrounds for whom getting access to quality education is difficult.
Doubtnut started off by solving Maths doubts of students. Soon, new subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology, and more were added.
In 2021, the platform expanded from Class 6 to Class 12 and began covering competitive exams like IIT-JEE, NEET, and some government exams like Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railways, National Defence Academy, etc.
The platform came out with initial video solutions in English, but soon the team realised that videos in Hinglish appealed to a wider audience base.
Today, almost 90 percent of Doubtnut’s catalogue is either pure Indian language-based content or a mixture of English and Hindi language.
Growth during the pandemic
The demand for Doubtnut grew during the pandemic when schools were shut down. This prompted the startup to launch online courses. A team of in-house content creators helped them create videos for the online course and video solutions.
The team solves each and every book, which is important or in demand. They solve and record the solutions in Hindi and English. New videos are added every day to the database.
Currently, the startup offers free and paid online courses. Online courses for various state boards such as the Himachal Board, Chhattisgarh Board, and others are also available on the platform.
Doubtnut founders took inspiration from their teaching days to make education accessible for all
With market competitors like BYJU’S, Vedantu, Unacademy, and others, Doubtnut claims to differ in three core points--100 percent core doubt solving engine, use of technology in delivering courses, and courses on state boards.
Aditya developed the initial version of the app after working on it for two months. It was a basic app allowing students to just ask doubts and watch videos.
Based on user feedback, the app was developed further to add additional features such as library, feed, gamification, online classes, quiz, mock tests, and more to become a full-stack educational platform.
The team is now working to make its user interface easy to understand and use. The focus was on ensuring zero manual intervention even during the stage as a minimum viable product.
An in-house team works continuously to make the match rate between doubts and video solutions better. Focus on ease of use and matching accuracy helps the startup with good retention rate and with a strong word of mouth, it was able to acquire a lot of users in the early days.
Initially, the platform was put together from various options available in the market, but with scale and customisations, the team decided to invest in building it in-house, as it allowed more flexibility and improving its market fit.
Doubtnut has a dedicated team where everyone is tasked to reach out to five to 10 users in a week to understand the end-users better.
The team believes in a strong A/B testing philosophy. The need for quick testing prompted the team to build an in-house A/B testing platform to run more than 50 concurrent experiments across various components.
Doubtnut relies on the performance metrics for all the features launched to improve upon its mistakes.
Apart from operational tips and tricks, the startup shares that a strong and experienced team that believes in the vision and mission of the company has helped it scale further. With people from different areas such as tech, data, product, and marketing across industries, the team has quickly adapted strategies to fit the current market.
Doubtnut has faced its fair share of challenges as well. One of them was managing the website traffic before the examinations when students would crowd the platform for last-minute queries. At times, the traffic load can be five to 10 times higher than the daily traffic, the founders say.
Building an affordable educational platform also requires keeping costs at bare minimum levels. Catering to a very large Indian language audience, personalisation, and localisation has been another challenge.
Doubtnut plans to expand further into other regions, especially the southern parts of the country, to provide vernacular solutions and course offerings.
It will continue to develop the product to become a single educational platform to address students’ needs across the country.