Meet four women entrepreneurs who are riding the new edtech wave with their startups
Even as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, education and learning did not have to wait thanks to existing and new edtech platforms catering to early learners and students from K-12 to PhD.
As a result, the edtech market is seeing an unprecedented promise with 9.6 million users on board with the market value expected to reach $1.96 billion by 2021.
Here are four entrepreneurs who found gaps in the education system – as mothers, students, and entrance exam aspirants – and established alternative solutions with their startups. Amid the pandemic, these startups are fostering learning, like never before.
Sneha Sundaram, Kutuki Kids Learning App
Sneha Sundaram and her co-founder Bharath Bevinahally became entrepreneurs to help satiate the curiosity of children and help them grow. The duo’s edtech startup, Kutuki Kids Learning App has stories and a song-based curriculum centred around relatable Indian characters.
The husband-wife duo hopes to build an edutainment brand, equivalent to Sesame Street and Peppa Pig in US and British cultures. Children engage in theme-based learning, which includes topics like space, STEM, general knowledge, phonetics, animals, good habits, and exercises, among others.
In May this year, the platform was recognised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi among the winners of e-learning category in the government's Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge.
In January 2019, it raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from Better Capital and Jerry Rao, Founder of Mphasis.
Asha Bineesh, Competitive Cracker
A BTech graduate in computer science and a software engineer by profession, Asha Bineesh’s experiment with video-sharing platform YouTube landed her with a business that has clocked Rs 1 crore in revenue.
Entrance exams have spawned a rather lucrative market in India and the entrepreneur is taking advantage of the opportunity. Her YouTube channel, Competitive Cracker gained 100,000 subscribers in 2017 and more than 200,000 subscribers in 2018.
Asha now offers courses for Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Kerala PSC, Kerala Teacher Eligibility Test (K-TET), and for cooperative bank tests on an exclusive website and mobile application. Priced between Rs 500 and Rs 5,000, the platform has coached over 5,000 students and started a coaching centre in Kakkanad in Kochi, Kerala.
Having cleared numerous exams herself, Asha says strong subject knowledge and teaching style is a major strength of her 27-teacher team.
Leveraging YouTube as a marketing tool and with an initial investment of Rs 35,000, the startup earned a revenue of Rs 1 crore in FY 2019-20.
Shubhada Dayal Basuray and Sheetal Kapoor, Brainologi
Shubhada Dayal Basuray rediscovered formal education as a mother when her son started primary school and was keen on dissociating learning and education with boredom. After learning that 85 percent of cognitive development takes place by the age of 10, Shubhada and her co-founder Sheetal Kapoor decided to start Brainologi in 2014.
Along with child development and curriculum specialists and child psychologists, the duo developed a curriculum that complements the academic syllabus. It was then tested for efficacy on children from different strata of society in physical classroom as well as digital format.
The Mumbai-based edtech startup offers hybrid learning products including books and games with a access to a digital learning curriculum through an Android-based app for children up to 10 years of age.
Starting at Rs 319, they are available on Amazon, Flipkart, and the startup’s website. Started with an initial investment of Rs 1.5 crore, its revenue is doubling on a month-on-month basis.
After COVID-19 broke out in India, it started Ask Me Anything, a virtual show where children can interact with various personalities like Mount Everest summiteer, palaeontologist, author, car designer and wildlife photographer. More than 1,500 students are engaging every month.
Brainologi, which was shortlisted for the ReImagine Education Awards by Wharton from 1,200 firms across the world in 2018 is now looking to enter retail stores.
Suchitra Reddy and Ashwitha Reddy, LevelApp
A case of necessity forging innovation, entrepreneurs Suchitra Reddy and Ashwitha Reddy Chinnamail noticed the lack of instant peer learning platforms as students pursuing a bachelor’s in computer science and information technology at the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in 2016.
A handful of learning options on the internet included recorded platforms like Udemy and Udacity, or it was Google search bar that came to the rescue.
The duo then founded LevelApp to introduce learning and discussing live with a tutor. The platform allows students find the best tutors from among their own peers or seniors, get instant answers for their doubts, and focuses on topic tutoring as against subject tutoring.
Suchitra and Ashwitha are now pursuing their master’s degree in computer science and business administration respectively from California State University, Long Beach. While their move helped expand the platform globally, they are now joined by Sai K Arni and Srikanth Sammeta as co-founders, based in Hyderabad.
Present in more than 19 countries, over 7,000 students are learning across levels of K-12, bachelor’s, and PhD levels, as well as skill-based learning for languages and technology.
It also started offering virtual summer classes on coding, game designing, robotics, creative writing, classical dance, and musical instruments, among others.
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan