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We Project 20-Fold Growth In Junior Grades: Zishaan Hayath, CEO, Toppr.com

Zishaan Hayath, CEO, Toppr.com talks to BW Businessworld about the expansion plans of the company and the rise of ed-learning. (Edited Excerpts)

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What are the expansion plans and how do you plan to utilise the funding?

Toppr complements the school program, for 5th to 12th standard students. We recently raised INR 45 Cr. in a third round of funding from our existing investors: SAIF Partners, Helion Ventures and FIL Capital Management. It is a reflection of our healthy unit economics and a reinforcement of the belief that our investors have in us.

The capital will be used to expand our geographical footprint and accelerate user acquisition. Over the next four years, we expect it to take us to full profitability. The company is looking to reach out to students across the country by opening centres in 30 cities by December 2017 – aiming for $500 million in revenue by 2021. We project 20x growth in our junior grades and 15x growth in the senior grades subscription by then.

Toppr’s quarter-on-quarter revenue growth is 50 percent, for the past seven quarters. On an average, students now spend about 100 minutes a day on our platform. Our education counsellors help parents and students in selecting the most suitable plan for them. Going by its strong focus on personalising learning, the company is well on its way to emerging as one of the undisputed leaders in this space. The market is large and deep. In the near future, I think of us as a strong candidate for an IPO.

How is e-learning getting its sheen back?

The rapid increase in internet connectivity has been an important catalyst for the growth of e-learning. A proliferation of Ed-Tech platforms in the Indian landscape is slowly eliminating barriers in the access to quality education. With 400 million K-12 students, upcoming startups can expect to effectively mobilize their content by creating micro-learning facilities for self-learning, while, simultaneously, engendering employment opportunities. The market is vast, and far from saturation.

How government push for digital teaching will further accentuate the growth of e-learning in India?

The Central Government has launched four major initiatives to push e-learning in higher education. These include Swayam, an indigenously designed massive open online course (MOOC), SwayamPrabha, a project for transmitting high-quality educational content through 32 Direct-to-Home channels, National Digital Library, an online collection of over 6.5 million books, and National Academic Depository, that will authenticate all certificates issued by institutions across India. Together, these initiativesshould increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in the higher education sector from 24.5 (2015-16) to 30 by 2020.

How can online education transform the Indian education sector?

In India, conventional learning resources fall terribly short of what's needed to bridge the gaps between students belonging to different social backgrounds. To level the plain for learners, taking the digital DNA to the education market is extremely exciting. It meets students’ specific needs through a personalised approach that, additionally, provides them with an ideal home environment for their studies.

Education technology can eventually rid the system of its many loopholes altogether. Think of the app as a teacher who understands the uniqueness of a student’s learning abilities, and utilizes multiple techniques to work out her weaknesses, while equally assessing her strengths. But, for that, a lot of work still needs to be done. The use of data, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms will make it happen – with innovation constantly accelerating the process. The transformative possibilities, on the level of the collective, are unbound.


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