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The Designer Class bet on celebrities and expert-curated courses to make upskilling accessible

Founded in 2020, edtech startup The Designer's Class has a roster of 18 celebrity designers such as Gauri Khan, Masaba, Rhea Kapoor, Abu Jani, and Sandeep Khosla.

The Designer Class bet on celebrities and expert-curated courses to make upskilling accessible

Monday July 03, 2023 , 4 min Read

When freshers enter an industry for the first time, they often look up to the icons who have been there and done that. For instance, an aspiring designer may look up to someone like Masaba Gupta—often finding ways to emulate her success. 

While being able to learn from the greats in the past was a significant challenge, technology has disrupted all this—with social media bringing us closer to our idols than ever before. 

Add to that, upskilling is now easier than it ever was. Recognising the need to bring students closer to experts, Samarth Bajaj and Aadesh Nahar, who have design backgrounds, along with Vishal Bajaj, and Preetam Saikia founded an online learning platform, The Designer's Class (TDC) in 2020.  

Together, the three put Rs 3 crore from their personal finances and those from friends and family to make TDC happen. As of today, through this platform, potential students could access classes on fashion, jewellery, interiors, photography, and beauty and makeup.

Bringing in the celebrity factor 

Courses on TDC have been curated by a team of experienced professionals and industry experts who spent nearly 6-8 months to conceptualise these courses.

Besides this, it also banks on its celebrity collaborations. This includes a roster of 18 celebrity designers such as Gauri Khan, Masaba, Rhea Kapoor, Abu Jani, and Sandeep Khosla, who have designed courses and taught them.

"All have carefully designed the course content to ensure that it is relevant, comprehensive and practical. Their contributions are instrumental in providing valuable industry perspectives and communicating their design sensibilities in an accessible manner," says Bajaj. “They're [celebrities] are also willing to share the perspective of the industry and what they've learned along the way.”

It operates on a hybrid model, with the master's and celebrity classes pre-recorded and the live classes taught by the faculty. Currently, it is an online platform. However, TDC is testing an offline model and plans to implement it in the third quarter of 2023—where the student-teacher ratio of approximately 22:1.

The course fee ranges from Rs 2999 to Rs 20,000. The duration varies for each course, ranging from a minimum of 30 hours to a maximum of 600 hours of learning content.

Currently, there are about 17,000 active users on the platform. It generated around Rs 3.5 crore in revenue in FY22.

For celebrity designers, it works on a revenue-sharing model, the maximum percentage for celebrity designers is 20% where the celebrities receive a percentage of the net enrollments. 

After completing the course, students are also eligible for internship opportunities with celebrities. "We offer internships only to students who complete the entire course, specifically the full bundled programme, and achieve a minimum of 70% marks. Internships are not provided for single courses or mini bundles," Bajaj asserts.

Approximately 60% of candidates have been shortlisted or have obtained internships or jobs.

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The final evaluation is conducted by AI with no human intervention unless an appeal is made. 

While talking about competition, Bajaj cited that there are two brackets for identifying competitors. The bigger bracket includes Edtech platforms, including Unacademy, BYJU'S, and others, although it considers MasterClass, Udemy as rivals. 

While the edtech market is currently facing upheavals and a number of challenges, the overall market in India was valued at $700–800 million in 2021 and is expected to reach $30 billion by 2031, growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20%, as per a study by KPMG

Having raised $1 million (Rs 7.9 crore) in July last year from angel investors, it now plans to turn The Designer Class into a primary and secondary supplemental education provider in accordance with National Skill Qualification Framework standards.

Edited by Akanksha Sarma