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How these entrepreneurs built a vernacular test preparation platform

Founded in 2015, Pune-based Pariksha is a vernacular edtech platform that aims to make affordable, outcome-based education available to all.

How these entrepreneurs built a vernacular test preparation platform

Monday February 07, 2022 , 4 min Read

Today, most state government exams are transitioning online. While financially well-off aspirants have the competitive advantage of access to better preparation material and mentorship, aspirants from smaller towns often face challenges when it comes to sourcing these materials. Language is also a barrier.  

To address these challenges, Karanvir Singh, Vikram Singh, Utkarsh Bagri, and Deepak Choudhary, graduates of Symbiosis University and IIT Kanpur, started Pariksha in 2015.

The Pune-based vernacular edtech startup is Bharat-focused and trying to solve problems related to accessibility and affordability for test preparation. “We are trying to eradicate inequality,” Karanvir says.

“The vernacular market presents one of the biggest opportunities for any edtech company. It is a large, need-based impact market,” he adds. 

As of now, Pariksha has launched its services across 16 states in eight languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali and English. It claims to be serving around 50 lakh students who are using its mobile application to prepare for various examination and upskilling courses.

The initial days

To begin with, Pariksha provided a SaaS platform to over 280 engineering colleges, including all old IITs, BITS, and NITs for campus placement preparation.

“In 2018, the company saw a huge opportunity in the vernacular state government job exam preparation space. Every year, over 75 million aspirants prepare for state government job exams across the country and spend over $2.3 billion annually on preparation,” Karanvir says.

“Out of these 75 million aspirants, only 10 percent, the affluent aspirants, would go to a coaching institute, and the remaining 90 percent have been preparing on their own,” he adds.

These aspirants are mobile-first internet users who do not have access to a computer at home or school. Majority of them don't even have access to basic preparation material or guidance.

The startup saw a huge opportunity in this need-based, large, unserved market, and launched its B2C state government job exam offering in 2018.

Pariksha caters to state government job exams like state PSC, police inspector, police constable, teachers, jail wardens, forest guards, patwari, talathi etc, and national-level job exams like SSC, Railways, Army, Airforce, Navy, etc. Additionally, it also provides vernacular upskilling courses and campus placement preparation courses for engineering students.

The founders met at IIM Ahmedabad during a business plan competition. Karanvir Singh and Vikram Singh (CEO and CRO) are alumni of Symbiosis University, while Utkarsh Bagri (COO) and Deepak Chaudhary (CTO) are IIT Kanpur graduates.

At present, Pariksha is a 105-member team.

How it works?

The startup is targeting mobile-first internet aspirants preparing for state government job exams and youth from Bharat who are looking for vernacular upskilling. 

Pariksha offers services through a vernacular mobile application, which is available for Android users.

Users get practice content, mock test series, video on demand (asynchronous), scheduled live classes (synchronous), online doubt solving, online mentoring, current affairs, and credible information about examinations.

“Pariksha’s USP is its deep understanding of the Bharat market and collaborative go-to-market strategy. It partners with brick-and-mortar educational institutions in every state on a three-year exclusive arrangement. The partnership is on a revenue-sharing basis, where the partners provide multimedia preparation content, examination, and market knowledge,” Karanvir says.

The market and funding 

According to a report by KPMG, the Indian edtech market was estimated to be $1.96 billion in 2021. It is projected to grow to over $30 billion by 2030, as per an RBSA report.

Pariksha has raised $3 million so far from Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund, LV Angel Fund, 9Unicorns, Venture Catalysts, INSEAD Angels, and a lot of angel investors and claims to be receiving interest from the investor community. It is looking to close a $10 million investment round in the coming months.

The startup works on a freemium model. Its primary source of revenue is through subscription, where it charges anywhere between Rs 200 for a low-priced mock test series and Rs 30,000 for a full-fledged state PSC (public service commission) course.

The startup generated a revenue of Rs 3.34 crore in FY21 and is looking at doubling it in FY22.


Plans ahead

“Pariksha has very aggressive growth plans and is going deep and wide in the state government job exam space. It is also venturing into some national exam offerings where it sees synergies and competitive advantage,” says Karanvir.

Apart from that, the next big opportunity for Pariksha is upskilling students and youth of Bharat. It has launched its vernacular upskilling courses as pilot in few states and is "getting very exciting results".

“Pariksha’s long term plan is to dominate the Bharat market and be a platform of choice for all vernacular education, preparation, and upskilling needs of Bharat youth,” Karanvir adds.

Started with an initial investment of Rs 75 lakh, Pariksha faces indirect competition from Unacademy and BYJU'S, among others.

Edited by Megha Reddy