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How 4 IITians are democratising education with personalised tutoring online

Vamsi Krishna tells us about how the online tutoring industry is bound to grow in the near future and Vedantu’s sole mission to bring personalisation into teaching and to make education democratised.

How 4 IITians are democratising education with personalised tutoring online

Students from primary classes to Class XII are now actively leveraging websites and apps in their search for excellent tutors. In the past few years, the approach of the parent, teacher and student fraternity in India has been veering towards the online world, especially in urban and semi-urban India.

India has 100 million students in private schools with a shortage of two million teachers. Addressing the needs of the current generation students can be a large business opportunity. Online tutoring is a nascent market and companies need to build integrated and scalable model. Tapping this opportunity, Vedantu, one of India's most renowned tutoring platforms provides customised teaching using audio and video tools.

Vamsi Krishna, Co-founder & CEO of Vedantu, in an interview with EducationBiz, gives us insights on how the online tutoring industry is bound to grow in the near future and Vedantu’s sole mission to bring personalisation into teaching and to make education democratised. Let's read the excerpts below:

Tell us about Vedantu. What is the USP of Vedantu?

Vedantu is an online tutoring platform that enables LIVE learning between a teacher and a student. A student can choose from best teachers across the country and study in the convenience of home. On Vedantu a teacher is able to give personalised teaching using two way audio, video and white boarding tools where both teacher and student are able to see, hear and write in real-time. Imagine it like 'Skype' custom made for education.

Vedantu caters to 4th to 12th grade students of all major boards and various subjects. Students on Vedantu can choose from regular tuition plans, exam preparation courses or create their own custom study packages.

The company is very focused on technology and has created in-house product which is very optimised for low bandwidth conditions. The advantages Vedantu provides are numerous like access to best quality teachers from any location unlike choice of only local teachers in offline tuitions. Flexibility of timings, convenience, saving on travel time and safety are some of the obvious advantages of Vedantu.

Vedantu is a venture by four IITian friends - Vamsi Krishna, Saurabh Saxena, Pulkit Jain and Anand Prakash. These four friends turned entrepreneurs have a deep domain expertise in education. They did their first venture in education, Lakshya, in 2006 which later got acquired by a listed company called MT Educare (Mahesh Tutorials) in 2012. As part of Lakshya the founders taught and mentored more than 10,000 students and trained more than 200 teachers between them.

The name Vedantu is formed by two Sanskrit words Veda (Knowledge) + Tantu (Network), signifying a 'Knowledge Network' where any student can tap into a teacher of his choice directly and the learning can happen, anytime-anywhere.The company’s sole mission is to create a world of learning which is ‘Personalised & Democratised’. Personalised in terms of better experience than group classes and democratised in terms of choice which online platform provides like choice of teacher, choice of time, schedule and most importantly level of study.

What led to the inception of Vedantu in India? How has Vedantu grown from the day of its inception?

Education in today's world has become very general and it is the classroom teaching format “one-to-many” that has taken precedence, which we believe is not very effective for the long run and deeper understanding. All Individuals are different and ‘one-size-fits-all’ model will not work with students who require special attention, hence, the concept of personalized learning came forward. It’s difficult for students, as well as parents, to find mentors, who could understand a student’s capability and teach them at a pace they can cope-up with, and chances of finding such mentors close to their homes is even slimmer.

It is Vedantu's sole mission to bring Personalisation into teaching and to make education democratised. Vedantu aims at creating a platform where the student will be at the centre of learning again. Where a teacher will teach according to the need, pace and level of a student. Where learning graduates from

One-to-Many to 1-to-1. Where accessibility will no longer be a challenge as the student can get the best education sitting at home through Vedantu.

For personalisation to happen, technology will definitely help. But more importantly there has to be a system free of institutions where learning is bound within four walls. We imagine a world free of such middle layers, where a student is directly connected to a teacher and learning-teaching happens in a personalised way. Imagine a world with Knowledge Democracy.

It's close to 2 years since we launched and in this span we have done more than 1,00,000 hours of LIVE tutoring on Vedantu, spanning over 300+ cities. We are also continuing to see that a majority of these students are shifting to Vedantu for their long term needs and have stopped going to their tuitions, primarily because they loved the teacher and the personal attention and convenience which the child is receiving.

Was it self-funded or did you raise funding? Please elaborate.

Vedantu was initially self-funded and then we eventually raised Angel investment. Later in 2015 we received a $5M investment from Accel partners and Tiger Global.

Highlight the challenges faced by the brand. How did Vedantu tackle them?

Mindset and infrastructure, in that order are two challenges which we see for the concept of Online tutoring to grow in India.

In India, e-learning and tutoring is still is a very recent occurrence. Parents and students in most parts of the society still believe in the traditional classroom teaching – the one-to-many model. Breaking this mindset and highlighting the importance and effectiveness of a personalized teaching, was one of the major hurdles.

Additionally, we also wanted to make sure that Vedantu is accessible whenever the student is in need, independent of high speed internet connection availability. So, creating Vedantu’s own technology that is easy and user-friendly was another challenge, as we wanted to make sure that students faced no technical glitches while using and it also worked in low bandwidth.

How is Vedantu bringing about a change in the education industry in India?

Education in today's world is moving towards generality. Over the decades, classroom teaching has taken precedence that most of the teaching done in a 'One Size Fits All' manner. Which we believe it is ineffective and should change.

Vedantu as a one-to-one online tutoring platform has only personalization for the student as its core mission. It aims at creating a platform where the student will be at the center of learning. Where a teacher will teach according to the need, pace and level of a student. Where learning graduates from One-to-Many to 1-to-1. Where accessibility will no longer be a challenge as the student can get the best.

In Vedantu student is directly connected to a teacher and learning-teaching happens in a personalized way. Imagine a world with Knowledge Democracy.

While it will take some more time for the complete switch to take place, we believe online tutoring is the way forward for students and parents looking for personal attention. Classroom coaching may work for some students, but, there will be others who need special attention or more help on particular areas – this is where a platform like Vedantu will play a key role, by mentoring them 1-1 and solving all their queries real time.

We believe that choice and convenience will drive this trend of online tutoring over traditional classes but as with e-commerce its not that the whole behavior will shift online. Infact we see both the models co-existing.

How big is the e-learning industry in India? How have people accepted the idea of learning online?

There are over 250M kids in k12 segment in India out of which 80M are studying in private schools and go for some or the other kind of supplementary tuitions.

At present India’s tutoring market is around $11B and slated to grow to $16B by 2017.

Many educational institutions are benefitting from expansion via franchising? What is your opinion on franchising?

It’s a great model to expand organically. Companies should adopt it wherever applicable and synergetic.

Highlight your expansion plans.

We plan to reach out to more categories and grades by next year. Our current plan is to continue to grow at 30 per cent MOM which we are witnessing now.

Where do you see Vedantu in the next 5 years.

We see ourselves becoming the biggest network of teachers in the world in the next 5 years, catering to over million students annually.

Thus, the future of online tutoring is extremely promising, with less than one percent of the market being addressed. The market will involve usage of online, app-based, specific content-driven, personalised tutoring and a lot use of analytics. With access to internet at homes and phones, the demand for online tutoring platforms will present huge business opportunities.

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