This woman entrepreneur is on a mission to help schools become best educational spaces
Vibhuti Taneja started EDCel Consulting in 2017 to help new and established schools break from conventional methods of operation, and adopt innovative and modern processes and technologies to help students flourish.
According to a Ministry of Human Resource Development 2018 report, there are more than 15 lakh schools in the country. For decades, the traditional method of running schools, except for the rise of online education, has continued. Vibhuti Taneja, realised that no fundamental disruption had taken place in traditional education for a long time.
As an independent education consultant, Vibhuti had worked with several schools like Shri Ram Global, St. Xavier’s Blessings, Little Wings, and Regis Kids World during her initial years in her career. From her years of professional experience, she understood that a majority of schools depend on unorganised and conventional styles of operations that lacked the efficiency of modern processes and technology.
In early 2017, taking into account, the rise in the number of schools and organisations and the need for innovation and modernisation, Vibhuti founded. It began operations in May 2017, by bringing together several other education consultants to help schools adapt and catch up to the new trends and developments in the sector.
Growing up, Vibhuti would actively participate in all curricular and co-curricular activities at school. She also has three bachelor’s degrees to her credit - English from Delhi University, Mass Communication and Journalism from Sikkim Manipal University and Education from Maharishi Dayanand University. She also has a Master’s in Education from the same university.
She had worked in several roles with multiple organisations assisting schools in overall planning and development, operations, academic and marketing functions.
For 10 years, she worked with Mother’s Pride and the Presidium group where she had a real-time learning experience on school development. Identifying the gap in education consultancies in India, Vibhuti quit Mother’s Pride in 2017.
With the aim to develop an institution that could cater to current needs of established and emerging schools in India, Vibhuti started EDCel Consulting in New Delhi.
Speaking about the need for a holistic approach, Vibhuti says, “While there are renowned educational organisations that dominate the ecosystem, we now see a host of new-age school chains starting up. As a result, the demand for modern practices has seen a spike. Even traditional education organisations have become more open to outsourcing their operations, academic and marketing planning to independent consultants.”
Vibhuti started EDCel with Rs 10 lakh from her savings from previous independent projects and jobs. The startup has slowly increased its revenue from Rs 11 lakh in the first year to Rs 53 lakh in the last fiscal.
With a team of 12-14 independent consultants, the startup helps newer school chains with market research and analysing potential according to target group preferences and works on building a structure for the setting-up process, creating an academic calendar, planning the curriculum and marketing functions. For established chains, it works to provide solutions to drive their next phase of growth by adopting modern practices and modules.
Like most other startups, the journey of starting up and getting the first contract with a school was difficult, admits Vibhuti. Initially, she worked towards establishing a market fit before emphasising on profitability or success.
One of the primary challenges, she says, was the conventional mindsets of schools and educational institutions. Her starting up also coincided with the foray of edtech startups and major players focussing on online education space. Hence, breaking into the traditional segment, was quite challenging for a new market entrant.
Also, expanding beyond Delhi-NCR region into states like Punjab and Haryana proved to be another hurdle as she had no concrete projects to show prospective clients.
“However, giving up was not an option and the only feasible way out was to explore opportunities with school chains in those regions and deliver a great experience that stood way beyond the set benchmarks of the industry. It was here we began our obsession with excellence,” Vibhuti says.
Over the next few months, the buzz kept growing stronger and the word started to spread in the region. Satisfied clients provided strong references and things started to turn, and led to some major breakthroughs in newer markets.
Within four months, EDCel Consulting had its first contract with a chain of schools in Ludhiana. Today, it has over 20 schools and chains across different regions as clients.
The pandemic and education
With the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, disrupting schools and education, most schools have adopted online learning solutions.
During this time, EDCel has been helping schools make a seamless temporary shift to online learning practices, creating curricular modules, conducting teachers’ training sessions and spreading knowledge on how a post-COVID classroom environment should look like.
During the lockdown, Vibhuti also co-founded ‘The Sack Club’ - an online skill development programme that focuses on helping children going back to co-curricular activities, by providing workshops that address their intellect, social, cognitive, language and entrepreneurial skills.
It offers one-day workshops dedicated to making science fun with slimes, bath bombs and soaps, volcanoes and instant ice and fun activities. Children can also learn a foreign language like French and sessions to improve spoken English, soft skills, creative thinking and overall communication.
EDCel and The Sack Club have collaborated with the NGO Kat-Katha to provide spoken English and various other online classes to sex workers and their children in GB Road, the largest red-light area in the NCR region.
Vibhuti believes that while the world is getting habituated to digitisation in all aspects of life due to the pandemic, education in the post-COVID world will return to conventional forms with offline learning making a comeback.
Commenting on post-COVID changes in schools, she adds, “Schools will have to re-align their functions and strategies in order to address safety concerns and anxiety of parents in sending children back to schools. Schools will also have to redefine strategies on admissions, student strength, and go completely contactless with safety measures in place and regular monitoring of common areas.”
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan