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Shirsa Labs - An EduTech Startup Where Kids Consume Good and Quality Content

Founded with an initial investment of​​ Rs 30 lakh from the founders, the startup clocked close to Rs 1 crore in revenue in 2015-16, the firm revenue rose by 100% last year and is likely to see 300% growth this year.

Shirsa Labs is an education technology start-up founded in 2013 by Sukhada Tendulkar and Mandar Desai. The firm has raised $250,000 in angel capital funding through AH! Ventures.

Currently 1.5 lakh retail users and 100-plus schools are using Shirsa's products. Its user base has seen a 100% year-on-year growth

Shirsa is content consumption platform + virtual world, where kids consume good and quality content. Its fremium based business model, where 25k users are paying users. The company is growing by approximately 70% MOM in terms of active users from last 8 months.

Founded with an initial investment of​​ Rs 30 lakh from the founders, the startup clocked close to Rs 1 crore in revenue in 2015-16, the firm revenue rose by 100% last year and is likely to see 300% growth this year.

The market that Shirsa is targeting is phenomenally large as India has over 100 million students enrolled in K1- K8, which is almost 20 to 200 times that of US, and UK respectively.

Sujata Sangwan Interacts With Sukhada Tendulkar - Founder and CEO , Shirsa Labs And Spoke To Her

How has Shirsa Labs evolved over the years?

We are in the business of developing a new-age ecosystem of products for 21st century children. This ecosystem and its component products aim to engage each child with their respective Parents in a personalized journey of educational entertainment.

Our vision: is to make education fun and rewarding. We aim to become the one stop solution for all edutainment needs of the children. We at Shirsa focus on blending learning skills with knowledge of a subject and deliver a gamified learning experience to the child.

Today we have 1,20,000+ retail users and 100+ schools adopting the solution. We plan to grow to 10 Lakhs users by the end of this year.

The evolution has been an intentional shift of our focus on our B2C channels while maintaining a healthy B2B channel. Our basecamp is in Mumbai.

The company's Products:

Planet of GUI is a goal oriented virtual world for kids (Age 6-12). The portal has Cool Clicks, Awesome Videos, Online games, worksheets & eBooks, Science experiments, DIY, quizzes and a Ton of fun for kids. Additionally it has a lot of engaging features with Avatar and multiple characters where they can decorate their own room, invite friends and much more.

Here we only push personalized age appropriate content and all our recommendations based on the user behaviour on the platform. Kids earn Geekos – the reward points by consuming the content. The Geekos are then redeemable against features like customizing the avatar, buying virtual goods, unlocking features and getting freebies at their doorstep.

On NewsPIK, which is a digital newspaper for kids, we curate news articles, events, quizzes and a Ton of information! It’s a fodder for young minds with age appropriate news. Further they earn rewards by reading the news which are again redeemable on POG platform.

How did the idea came to start? What inspired you?

We always held a belief that being learned is more important than being educated. It is the skill of a person which takes him places and not his academic degree. A child has to work on his strengths and keep developing strong skill sets. As careers are no more fixed, we all have to be on top of our game to stay competitive. And to do so a college degree is just not enough. Helping the youth find their strengths and sharpen their skills had always been our motto and we are committed towards fulfilling that objective.

What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?

When we started, the Edu-Tech space in India was in a very nascent stage. Our initial challenges broadly came under two categories. The first was to find & connect with the right industry veterans who could provide feedback on our business idea & its viability. The other was to build a strong team that understood our vision & was committed to this cause.

I believe it was a combination of our home-work, conviction, flexibility, networking, strong trust among key team members and a bit of luck that we were able to overcome those initial challenges.

Funding Status

We founder put in the initial money. We are firm believers that the founders and entrepreneurs should have their skin in the game first in order to make new investors believe in your growth. We had put initially the INR 30L from our savings from previous professional experience. We follow the strategy of Spend Wise and are never too aggressive. Organic growth coupled with the growth capital is smart way to grow the company.

First round funding with family & friends: USD 50K in Oct 2014
Second Round funding with Ah! Ventures: USD 250K in Nov 2015

Current challenges

As we grow and expand, we continuously strive to strike the right balance between maintaining our innovation-driven work-culture while efficiently achieving goals and targets we set for ourselves.

Expansion plans

We are product organization, and do not need huge team of 100+ people. The team will grow further from current 20 to 30+ by the end of this financial year and 50 odd members by next 2017-18. Our revenue rose by 100% last year and we will see 300% growth this year.

Competition & differentiation

As closest competitors, we look at Poptropica in globally. We are creating a global product and believe that the competition is going to come from there. Our USP is the blended ecosystem that connects virtual and the real world for children and their families.

The real life gratification system presented to every child acts as a differentiator. The Geekos – the currency on the platform are redeemable for availing the discounts at partner stores and also on our e-store.

Business goals

Today we have 1,20,000+ retail users and 100+ schools adopting the solution. We plan to grow to 10 Lakhs users by the end of this year.

Any interesting incident/s (for anecdotal value) encountered during your entrepreneurial journey.

Our interactions with children, Parents & School representatives have given us many interesting experiences that have shaped our thoughts. Following are some quotes we can never forget:

A parent who wanted to summarize what Shirsa is trying to do-”We know our children are unpolished diamonds. Shirsa will help in polishing them!”

A futuristic school Principal - “The 21st century will be a very unpredictable one and no school can claim to prepare our children for that volatility without the support of Parents and organizations like Shirsa.

What is the potential of growth?

25% population in India today is below 15 which poses huge potential for growth. As the internet time of kids is increasing the TV time is reducing. Parents are always on the lookout of safe environment for kids and kids wanna consume content. The hunger for content consumption from internet is ever increasing. With multiple platforms and apps, we wish to become the trusted and most popular online solution for kids.

Where do you think the education technology market is going in the next five years, especially in your market segment?

Edtech is a very interesting space to be present in. There is a lot happening off lately in here. Many people predict that we shall see a unicorn coming from the space in next few years. Many companies have scaled and flourished in B2B segment but at the same time, B2C - consumer facing companies have faced some challenges due to low internet penetration and adoption. A light solution i.e. 2G friendly is always helpful and that's what we focused on. I am sure the things will ease out as internet adoption goes up with reduction in prices.

About Founders

Sukhada Tendulkar – Founder and CEO (Cost Accountant+MBA) 

A finance professional by academics and an ex banker
Passionate about education and wanted to contribute to the society
Responsible for product development, sales and daily operations of the company

Mandar Desai - Founder and CFO (BE+MBA Boston University)

Experienced entrepreneur with wide experience in technology and business
Expert in digital Technology who brings diverse work experience
Mandar handles marketing and Financial aspects at Shirsa

Kunal Ambasht - Cofounder & COO (BE + MBA – Education Management)

Education expert with hands on operational experience
Kunal leads operations and school sales at Shirsa

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India Startups Shirsa Labs EduTech Startup

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