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Vidyanext: Aims to Change the way India Learns By Empowering Guru–Shishya Model

Vidyanext has been learning from their past experiences. They have launched Term 2 and believe that it will create a lot of engagement because of the product features that are adding to the learning system.

Founded by software and education leaders from IIT, IIM, Brown & Harvard, the company’s mission is to change the way India learns. The company believes, school students deserve more than they are getting from either private or government education, and without improvement, India’s “demographic dividend” will be forfeited.

BWDisrupt interacted with Pradeep Singh, CEO Vidyanext which is an Edutech Venture functioning since 2009. He spoke about how the startup has been sustaining in a sector with stiff competition.

Excerpts from the interview:

The company is the brainchild of Will Poole (Founder) and Pradeep Singh (Founder and CEO). Their investment of Rs 30 crores is aimed at transforming the 70 million strong student tuitions industry.

In 2009 Pradeep Singh and co-founder Will Poole started the company with the idea that technology can help students learn better. With the years of learning, since its inception, the business model has evolved considerable.

Between 2010 and 2011, the company was licensing learning technology to IIT and medical coaching institutes. Their customers used the software to provide digital learning solutions for their prep students. Between 2012 and 2015 the company switched its solutions towards to tech-enabled tuitions centers. The focus was on developing a new model of learning – the Vidyanext Learning System™. The focus was on trained tutors, tutoring students, using the help of technology and hence the “Tech+Teach” model was initialized.

They delivered this model at Vidyanext centers, and over the years have grown to about 25 centres across Bangalore and Gurgaon. This year Vidyanext introduced the home tutor model. They partner with tutors who take tuitions at home and give them access to the Vidyanext Learning System. Currently, Vidyanext has partnered with close to 1100 tutors across Bangalore and hope to grow it such that there is a trained Vidyanext tutor within walking distance of each student.

Vidyanext is changing the way India learns. By bringing to market a set of technology tools to empower neighbourhood tutors, Vidyanext takes the traditionally Indian guru–shishya model into the 21st century.

The Vidyanext Learning System™ requires partnership with tuition teachers, instead of seeking to replace them. Through this partnership, Vidyanext brings a laser sharp focus to making every minute spent in tuition as productive as possible, while offering parents the benefits of a marketplace with multiple tuitions options and price points.

Vidyanext employs next gen technologies to scale and sustain the product. They are building a highly scalable, state of art micro services using best of MEAN stack, AWS PaaS. Vidyanext invites geeks with solid experience building scalable internet facing products(preferably MEAN, MSFT or JAVA) to build the next gen learning system that will change the way India learns.

The journey began in 2007 when Pradeep Singh was a CEO at Aditi and co-founder Will Poole was still running Unlimited Potential group at Microsoft. Back then, the concept behind which Vidyanext was built was a Microsoft-funded project outsourced to Aditi. The idea was to build technology for the online test preparation suppliers with Akash and Brilliant as the first licensees. Microsoft cancelled the effort in late 2008. Pradeep and Will subsequently restarted it as an independent effort in 2009.

Though there are many features associated with the Vidyanext Learning System, it might be more beneficial to discuss what it brings to the table to it’s end user - tutors, parents and students.

Vidyanext shifts the burden of finding learning content and monitoring the work students are doing from the teacher onto a tech-enabled platform, leaving the teacher free to focus on teaching every student, understanding and responding to their specific needs.

For the student, this means that they now have the ability to take charge of their own learning. With practice and assessment material available to them and a Bot reminding them to do their work regularly, students have greater control over the learning process. They have a more personalized learning experience, one that will allow them to progress at a pace and in a way that works for them.

For parents, they can now get regular updates on how their child is performing and can have direct interaction with the tutor to get updates.

The different players in the area of learning and learning technology have different approaches. Some focus grooming tuition teachers and providing them students, others focus purely on content, while still others try and minimise the issue of commute and travel by providing online tuition.

Vidyanext occupies a “sweet spot” that it has arrived at, after much experimentation and a close study of student needs. Vidyanext’s research has revealed that there is not one solution that can help students learn better. A student needs access to rich content that provides them the motivation to study, while the in-person tutor provides them the discipline to stay on track. This leads to a true education companion.

Vidyanext is a private company funded by the founders. Vidyanext’s monetization model has two components:

Student: An upfront registration fee students pay directly to Vidyanext. The fee ranges from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 3000 per year, depending on the number of subjects. This fee is valid for the entire academic year.

Tutors: When a tutor has a student, Vidyanext charge a 15% share of the fees the tutor collects from the parent. Each tutor can set their own fee; they are required to pay only 15% of that to Vidyanext on a monthly basis.

Currently, Vidyanext is looking to saturate Bangalore this year. Following this they intend to expand to other metros and tier-2 cities over the next 3 years.
They believe they have the ability to scale because they will be working with tutors who already exist in every town in India. Given the excitement that Vidyanext has been received within Bangalore, they believe they can replicate the model even outside Bangalore.

Vidyanext’s marketing challenge has the complexity of any two stakeholder Internet consumer start-up, like Uber and AirBnb. They have used radio extensively in the past and their lead gen has been primarily digital traffic to the Vidyanext site or leads from sites like Sulekha and Just Dial. They have now built a critical mass of tutors, one in every neighbourhood at least with over 1100 Tutor partner locations.

Vidyanext has been learning from their past experiences. They have launched Term 2 and believe that it will create a lot of engagement because of the product features that are adding to the learning system. The new Tutor Recommendation Service simplifies the search for tutors. They are also launching later this month a parent app (iOS and Android) that will help parents monitor the progress of their child, and a Teach app for mobile to help tutors communicate with their students on the move.

They believe that their biggest challenge would be to convince parents about the importance of their child using the tabs.

Vidyanext focuses on providing Maths and Science tuitions for students between grades 4 and 11. In this segment the nationwide market size estimate is about 70 million students. As a market opportunity, in terms of sheer numbers it translates to about Rupees 21000 crores.
This means that this segment has tremendous potential.

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