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Shobhit Shekhar

The author is interning with BW Businessworld

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This Start-up Is One Step Solution For All Government & Banking Exams

In an interview with BW Disrupt, Satish Kumar and Abhishek Patil - Co Founders Oliveboard, talk about competition, investment and more.

There is not much demand for a government job in metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore but in non-metro towns and villages, it is a different story: A Central or State government job brings along with it financial and social security. “Genius without education is like silver in the mine,” said Benjamin Franklin, and the need of good education is important for our developing country. In an interview with BW Disrupt, Satish Kumar and Abhishek Patil-Co Founders Oliveboard, talk about competition, investment and more.

Brief us about your business model like how did the idea came to start and how does it work (step by step procedure)?
Oliveboard was founded in August 2012 to address the need of good institutes for preparation of graduate-level exams, particularly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. The founders observed that accessibility of offline coaching and personalized attention to remedy the problem areas of the students were major concerns for students preparing for graduate-level exams. With these issues in mind, an effective online solution Oliveboard was developed which also provides consistency in quality and is cost-effective. It provides insights that traditional classroom training cannot.

Quality coaching is accessible only at a few places and students in Tier 2 & 3 cities do not have access to high-quality training. Moreover, it is very expensive. Oliveboard not only addresses the issues of accessibility, consistency in quality and cost-effectiveness but also provides insights that traditional classroom training cannot. It helps candidates benchmark their performance against candidates across India. The adaptive engine also identifies the weak areas of each student and provides remedial material. Their vision is to “personalize education using technology.”

At Oliveboard, students are prepped for success using Video lectures, up to date comprehensive course material, Live Group Practice Sessions, Customized Study Planners, All India Test Series, Practice Tests and Analytics for instant feedback. All the above can be accessed on any internet-connected device - PC or on Oliveboard’s Android mobile app. Their gamified group study platform helps students collaborate and compete in live sessions.”

What are the unique key points of your company?
In an era where everybody is so focussed on quality and time efficiency, an effective solution like Oliveboard not only addresses the issues of accessibility, consistency in quality and cost-effectiveness, but also provides insights that traditional classroom training cannot. It helps users benchmark their performance against candidates across India, before the actual exam. The adaptive engine identifies the weak areas of each student and provides remedial material and customized study plans, thus giving them a much more personalized learning experience; something a traditional offline coaching institute often struggles with. In line with our vision, we provide personalized education by leveraging the efficiency and adaptability of technology.  

How are you different from the existing competitors?
Oliveboard has many interesting features that make it different from the other players in the industry; like:

Up-To-Date Exam Content – Our content is created by Exam Toppers, Experts and Top Faculty across the country. We provide comprehensive course material updated with latest exam patterns, syllabus and any last-minute introductions and variations in the exam.
Exhaustive preparation material – Our course material includes Live Classes, Video lessons, Course eBooks, Topic-wise Tests, Adaptive Tests, Mock Tests & Remedial Material on weak areas – all of which can be used anytime, anywhere.

Live Interaction with Top Faculty – Through our live classes and practice sessions, students get a chance to interact with top faculty online. These classes help both as concept-building as well as doubt-clearing sessions.

Extensive Online Test Series – Extensive range of high-quality mock tests with thousands of questions and their solutions, as per the latest exam pattern is available. Students can also have their hands on a complete set of practice tests needed for all exams.

Analytics for instant feedback – Our website/app gives users the scope to compare their All India Standing. It guides the students to study smart with shorter study times through adaptive practice & in-app recommendations. It further provides remedial practice sessions based on one’s weak areas.

Customized Study Planners – Oliveboard’s Intelligent Planner creates a personalized study schedule based on the syllabus, important topics and time available. Users have the option to even track their progress & upcoming tasks.

Live Group Practice Sessions – In order to make learning experience fun & engaging, Oliveboard has also introduced group study and practice sessions to help one collaborate and compete with other aspirants in live sessions and in a game-like environment

What is the funding status and monetization model?
They have received two rounds of funding from Michele Dell and Susan Foundation. Oliveboard is based on a freemium model. Students can take free tests, download free ebooks, watch free live sessions and then based on the quality buy courses and tests. Our idea is to provide premium content at a competitive price. Students can choose to buy individual or combo plans based on their need. We also have yearly plans which are quite popular among our students. We have introduced EMI schemes so that every student can afford each plan.

What challenges are you facing in running your business?

While Banking and Insurance Exam Aspirants have been preparing for these exams online for a few years now. Students for exams like AFCAT, SSC or Railways are getting used to the exam preparation model. They still connect with teacher interaction and that was one reason why they were introduced to live classes at Oliveboard. So that students can connect with faculty virtually.  

How has been the people's response so far
They have always seen demand from Tier II and III students choosing government services exams over the private sector. What has changed recently is that due to the time available, students have invested time in preparing for government sector exams. During the crisis, stability always being associated with government jobs is all the more emphasized. Keeping this in mind, they have launched free live mock tests for all government exams. They have observed 15k-20k students take the free live test every day, since the launch.    

Traction details (like users, app downloads & other achievements of the company)?
They have a total 6mn subscriber base and have seen more than 75k+ students for their online coaching batches.

Expansion Plans

At Oliveboard, candidates are given assistance for more than 50+ graduate-level India specific exams under the categories of MBA, Banking, and Government job exams. Oliveboard will continue to focus on the graduate level test prep segment in the near term before expanding to other segments. Oliveboard will also continue to add new courses in the graduate test prep space while also building products & increasing awareness in its existing segments. As part of this expansion, we have launched Oliveboard Edge, our course for all graduate-level exams with just one plan. We have recently crossed the milestone of 6 million registered users and over the next 12 months, we will be adding another million users and anticipate crossing the 15 million user mark over the next three to four years.

Marketing plans

At Oliveboard, they like to work with Toppers. They connect them with students and help them overcome their fear of failure through motivation derived from the toppers. This is not exactly a marketing plan, but they do believe that their users and toppers are their best brand ambassadors. They are active on all digital and social platforms. As their students are online, they provide content online, what's a better way to connect with them if not online.  

Market size and opportunity
As per a recent study, the global education technology market is expected to grow from $43.27 Billion in 2015 to USD 93.76 Billion to 2020, at a CAGR of 16.72% during the forecast period from 2015 to 2020. The “Online Test Preparation” platform is expected to be the fastest-growing category in the industry, with an expected CAGR of 64%. In recent times, there has been significant growth in Smart Classrooms. Oliveboard itself has come a long way from the time it started. With growing digital penetration in tier 2 & 3 cities of India, they have seen a great boost in their user base. Also, new government introductions like the advent of the 7th pay commission has also resulted in a lot of aspirants inclining towards government and banking jobs. With features like gamification, live group practice sessions, customized study planners and learning, up-to-date exam content, analytics for instant feedback, etc; Oliveboard managed to cross 6 million registered users, this year. Oliveboard’s expertise in government and banking job exams has further aided its growth over the past few years. The adaptability of technology and digitization is expected to attract many more aspirants to the online learning sector in the coming years.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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