CrackVerbal - An Online Portal That Provides GMAT Training and MBA Admissions Consulting
We have been bootstrapped since the inception of our company, and we do not have plans to seek funding for now. Our online GMAT & GRE courses can be purchased either as a comprehensive course or as individual standalone Verbal/Math modules.
CrackVerbal was started by Arun Jagannathan ( Founder and CEO) and Shreekala Kurup ( Co-founder and COO). They started off by moonlighting along with their full-time jobs in 2006. CrackVerbal was formally incorporated as a private limited company in 2012.
Team BWDisrupt Interacts With Arun Jagannathan, Founder and CEO, CrackVerbal And Spoke To Him
We started CrackVerbal with the same intention as most startups – “to build a better mousetrap”.
“I always felt that my real calling in life was teaching. It was something I had been doing right from when I was in college. In the early 2000s, I started teaching part-time at India's largest training institutes for CAT, and later moved on to the GMAT and GRE space. I was also a popular contributor on various online forums such as Pagalguy.com and Beatthegmat.com.
However, I was frustrated at teaching preparatory courses made for Americans to an Indian audience. Finally in 2006, I started CrackVerbal to teach Indians in a unique way that made sense to them. I ended up designing the CrackVerbal curriculum from the ground up to include every feature I saw as missing in traditional courses. This was where it all began!
It was not until 2009 that Shreekala (the other co-founder) and I started looking at this as a full-time business. In 2010, Shreekala, after having spent over a decade in IT (of which the last 7 years were with HP), decided to plunge in as the first full-time employee of CrackVerbal. Once the market validation was done, and we got initial traction, I followed in 2011 by quitting my job as a Delivery Manager with an IT product company to further test the market, and innovate around our earlier assumptions. It was in October 2012 that we finally set ourselves as CrackVerbal Edutech Pvt. Ltd.”
About and Key Services
Our driving passion is to create a new benchmark in the test prep industry through knowledge, excellence and effectiveness. There is no reason why a world-class company in test prep should not be born out of India, if we adhere to the highest standards of quality in content and delivery, and constantly elevate student expectations with innovative methodologies.
This is the guiding principle that dictates all our initiatives, services and our journey so far.
From day one, our biggest differentiator has been our endeavour to answer this question - how do we act as a bridge between exceptional faculty who love to mentor and extraordinary achievers who want to be mentored. This desire to mentor and guide is what has set us apart in the test-prep industry.
Our competitors can be broadly distributed in 2 categories: (a) Test prep companies that offer online options (b) Online Forums
Among other online prep companies, not only is our course priced lower as we have the advantage of the cost arbitrage, but we are the only company that offers unlimited on-phone support during India business hours. We see a lot of students who like the fact that we are small and hungry – and it shows in the way we are: more than just a bunch of training videos.
We would also include large test prep forums as competitors because there is enough and more content available on such sites, so self-preparation becomes a viable option for the serious candidates who can focus on their own. Unfortunately most of them have not invested in IP – either on questions or on techniques/ strategies – so quality of the content is suspect.
We have spent many years in developing high quality proprietary content through a team of in-house experts with many decades of experience in GMAT/GRE preparation. As we also help students with their MBA / MS application process, many of these students come back to us after they have taken the test so we have a great feedback loop. Moreover, we have our own online forum that has had over a million visits and 1000s of registered CrackVerbal students. This allows us to get to know the top issues impacting students preparing for such tests.
Funding & Monetization
We have been bootstrapped since the inception of our company, and we do not have plans to seek funding for now.
Our online GMAT & GRE courses can be purchased either as a comprehensive course or as individual standalone Verbal/Math modules. We also sell a bundle personal tutoring with our courses for students who require additional one-on-one coaching. Apart from this, we are also a dominant player in the GMAT & GRE classroom coaching with over 4 centers across Bangalore and Chennai.
Another key business area is Admissions Consulting, for which we have a captive market of our own students. Our services range from 90-minute career brainstorming sessions with industry mentors to comprehensive application services that stretch across 3 weeks.
Biggest Roadblocks Faced By CrackVerbal
The biggest roadblocks CrackVerbal faced in the initial stages, resulted from the fact that neither Shreekala nor I came from a business background. Though our corporate experience of many years came in useful in setting up systems and processes, we had to experiment and figure out our way through many aspects of running a business, such as sales and digital marketing.
Also, when one is trying out things for the first time (such as India’s first digital class for GMAT prep, and India’s first mobile game app for building your vocabulary), there are a lot of unknowns that one has to deal with. However, each experience has only made our resolve stronger. A popular motto we live by at CrackVerbal is -“The more mistakes you make, the smarter you get!”.
Our online GMAT and GRE offerings are today taken by students from across the world, though the initial traction is more from India. From a classroom student’s perspective, we already are the leading GMAT prep company in Bangalore, and growing at a fast pace in Chennai. All of this has been possible not through any major marketing activity, but purely through word-of-mouth. We believe it is our students who have to be our brand ambassadors; we have always focused on ensuring that our customers become raving fans.
From a milestone perspective we hope to reach a target of 5000 students for GMAT and GRE in the next 12 months.
Our future plans broadly come under two categories:
1. Because of the fact that people are starting to prefer learning online, be it on their mobile phones, tablets, or laptops, we are aiming at getting our products across in a way that is convenient for them to learn.
2. We are also looking at expanding our footprint in India by launching centres in other higher-education intensive cities such as Hyderabad, Pune, and NCR.
Market Size & Opportunity
The reported number of students taking GMAT and GRE in India is around 30,000 and 85,000 respectively. However, each year, the number of students appearing for these exams is increasing. Most of these candidates also require help to apply to MBA and MS programmes the world over. We offer test prep and admissions services and so are a one-stop solution to students aspiring for a global degree. We estimate the market to be over Rs.1000 crore.
Also compared to 10 – 15 years ago, people now have more confidence, and they want to aspire for more – whether it is to work outside India or to apply for a highly ranked MBA or Masters program. As the confidence and aspiration levels keep rising, the market size will also keep growing.
Advice For New Players
Though the “moat factor” for starting a test prep company is comparatively very low, yet very few companies are able to grow beyond the initial stage. This is because they end up copying other larger companies. So ensure you are able to create the differentiator for your business through correct positioning. Think of a problem that has not been solved – or a niche that has not been serviced, and then go about finding a solution for that.
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