Bengaluru: You are a parent. You want to find a good tutor for your school-going child. You want the best of technology-enabled solutions for them. What do you do? You either go to an online listing site like Flipclass to find tutors near you or to a site like Vedantu, which offers a tutor marketplace.
Vidyanext, a start-up run by Pengala Learning Pvt. Ltd, wants to become another option.
The company, which was founded in 2010 as a third-party educational software provider, by serial entrepreneurs Will Poole, co-founder of Unitus Seed Fund, an impact seed fund and former corporate vice-president at Microsoft Corp., and Pradeep Singh, who founded Talisma, a CRM software provider and Aditi Technologies, is starting a new phase.
Vidyanext is going to aggregate neighbourhood tutors in one place, let parents choose which tutor they want based on the distance and location and provide software to both the tutor and student to make the learning more effective. They also offer an app for parents to monitor their child’s progress.
So far, Vidyanext has signed up about 100 tutors and aims to reach 500 by the start of the next school year. It plans to make money by charging a 15% commission from the tutors.
The firm offers content for Maths and Science for classes 6 to 11 across CBSE, ICSE and the state syllabi.
In future, it plans to expand to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune and Chennai and Tier II cities, and offer more subjects.
The company currently operates 35 centres in Bengaluru and Gurgaon where students can learn with the help of specially designed digital content with support from tutors. While the centres will continue to operate, the focus now is to extend its platform to be available for any tutor.
Being investors themselves, the two founders have so far put in $5 million in the company and said they plan for an institutional fund-raising next year.
The founders Poole and Singh said they felt that tutors were a largely ignored professional class.
“There is no company that is focused on the needs of the tutors. We think it’s a giant market, and it’s a giant market not only to build a business but also to transform the education that millions of kids get because we help make the tutors better,” said Poole.
With this model, Vidyanext hopes to overcome one of the most difficult challenges for an education start-up—reaching scale.
“From a scalablity perspective, it’s very simple because you’re not building your own centres, you don’t have infrastructure,” said Singh.
Vidyanext is unique in that it consciously stayed away from an online-only model or self-paced courses—two models that most start-ups in this sector adopt.
Singh said that from their experience of running the centres they found that these two approaches don’t provide students enough motivation.
Experts say that for education start-ups, the key lies in the execution and connecting all the stakeholders may be tough.
“If they can get schools on board, and sell to the parents, and sell the value proposition to tutors, it could be successful. But that’s a lot of stakeholders that need to buy in for this to work,” said Kunal Walia, managing partner, Khetal Advisors, an investment bank that has worked with multiple education start-ups.