Vedantu's top priorities: balancing growth and sustainability

At a fireside chat organised by Bharat Innovators Series, powered by AWS and Intel, Vedantu Co-founders Vamsi Krishna and Pulkit Jain spoke about their journey, the role of technology in the learning process, and the focus on growth and sustainability.

Vedantu's top priorities: balancing growth and sustainability

Tuesday April 18, 2023,

5 min Read

In recent years, technology has transformed nearly every aspect of our lives, and education is no exception. With the emergence of edtech, or educational technology, traditional academic methods are being revolutionised, and access to quality education has become more inclusive than ever.

In India, the edtech industry has experienced remarkable growth in recent times, with many platforms emerging to cater to the needs of learners. Among the various edtech platforms, Vedantu has emerged as a leading player, revolutionising academics not just in India but globally as well.

The journey so far: From offline to online learning

Reflecting on their journey, Vamsi Krishna, Co-founder and CEO, Vedantu, shared, “Four of us started our journey in education by becoming teachers in Barnala, a Tier III city in Punjab. It was by chance that we ended up there a few months after finishing our studies at IIT.”

Krishna and Pulkit Jain, Co-founder and Head of Innovation, Vedantu, were in conversation with Sunil PP South Asia Lead - Education, Space, NPOs, Channels & Alliances, Amazon Web Services (AWS), at a fireside chat organised by Bharat Innovators Series, powered by AWS and Intel.

“We witnessed the need for awareness among students in those areas and saw that we could make a significant impact by providing high-quality teachers. We tried to solve this problem offline, which was reasonably successful but had limitations. In 2012, we realised that technology was the only way to create the impact. We started setting up in Bangalore and committed to the idea of online learning in 2014, becoming the first company in India to do so,” Krishna said.

It took several years and multiple iterations before the Vedantu founders stumbled upon the idea of live online teaching and learning.

“We had to develop a whiteboard from scratch and use WebRTC to create a live audio-video connection, a difficult concept to grasp at the time. However, the impact on the few students who tried it was so amazing that it motivated us to continue and innovate further,” Jain said.

Personalised learning for students across India

The main philosophy behind Vedantu’s efforts is to ensure that quality teachers are available in all parts of the country, in a personalised and reliable way. The founders observed that many children prefer to learn in a classroom environment, but unfortunately, not all towns have access to exceptional teachers.

“This is where our technology comes in. We have created a system that allows a student to learn from a teacher in another part of the country as if they were learning in person,” Jain said.

Vedantu’s classes are highly interactive, providing teachers with real-time insights and knowledge that they can use to intervene or provide personalised guidance to each student. Both Krishna and Jain are excited about the potential of the hybrid classroom approach to transform the education landscape in many parts of the country.

Role of technology in the learning process

An increasing number of students are now gaining confidence in the role of technology in the learning process. However, for technology to be effective, it must be seamlessly integrated and feel natural to the student.

“Fortunately, we are approaching a point where technology is not perceived as something foreign or strange. In fact, when students attend these new classrooms, they feel as though they are learning in the same way they always have, with a teacher in front of them. It's crucial that we continue to develop technology to a point where it is perceived as a natural part of the learning process,” Jain said.

He highlighted the role of AWS as its technology partner. “AWS is the backbone on which everything runs. We have a very young team and AWS has actually mentored us in so many areas to build the right solutions for students and teachers.”

Jain further elaborated on how AWS helped reduce expenses significantly over the past year. “We were able to successfully decrease our expenses to the point where we can share our case study with the industry on how we accomplished it. Our efforts over the past few quarters are paying off, and we are confident in our ability to continue making an impact in the years to come,” he added.

Krishna also touched upon the crisis in the edtech sector due to falling valuations, slowing funding rounds, and faltering investor sentiment. He spoke about the need to consider the time horizon when analysing the situation. This is particularly relevant to entrepreneurs who want to enter the education industry.

From his perspective, the current narrative around the education industry is exaggerated at both ends. Initially, amid COVID, there was a lot of hype around the sector, with unrealistic numbers being thrown around. Later, there was a negative backlash with claims that there is no future for edtech. Krishna feels people need to be more balanced in their assessment.

“In my opinion, if we look back to 2014, there has been a significant jump in metrics such as student exposure and enrolment. However, it's important to recognise that solving the quality and access problems in education through technology is a long-term goal that requires sustained effort,” he said.

Sustainable approach to growth and profitability

Speaking specifically about Vedantu, Krishna said growth and user acquisition were top priorities in 2020, and the company was successful in increasing the student base from 80,000 to 1.2 million.

He added that the focus has shifted towards sustainability and profitability since 2022. “Sustainability is crucial for creating a significant impact in the education industry, and requires a long-term outlook. In light of current external circumstances, such as tighter capital allocation, our decisions have been driven by sustainability, even if it meant making tough choices.

“We want to ensure that our company can continue to exist and make an impact for the long term, without depending on external factors,” Krishna emphasised.

To watch the entire fireside chat,