Next Education clearly understands that education is a ‘decades’ business and not ‘years’ business, that is why it has aligned its shareholders and management interests.
Starting an education entrepreneurial venture and running it successfully is not everyone’s cup of tea. It requires sincerity, dedicated efforts and focus. In conversation with the Education Bureau of Franchise India, Beas Dev Ralhan, Founder and CEO, Next Education, tells us about his journey of becoming a successful entrepreneur and his eye for creating optimal solutions.
What is Next Education?
Next Education is working towards transferring certain amount of learning in the country with the aim to reach 25 million kids by 2020 through pictures, products etc. It’s not a B2B, B2C or a digital company. We provide a spectrum of solutions which are required such as labs, books, curriculum, ERP, learning platforms and many others. We strongly believe in building ‘Optimal solutions’. As India is a money poor country, we cannot have the latest here in terms of technology, but can have optimal solutions for everybody involved. So we keep these in mind while building our solutions and ensure minimal cost, price our products reasonably, company should get decent returns along with making certain amount of money. If you buy a latest solution from US and try to sell it in India, it will not work, so that is why we focus on optimal solution. Nowadays many players enter the market but are not able to survive due to non-commitment. We’ve been able to survive through these years primarily due to our commitment on customer service at any cost. We provide 5 year warranty on our hardware and repair them on-site which makes us unique.
Highlight the challenges you have faced in your journey so far.
We’ve faced a lot of challenges pertaining to India like electricity and its voltage fluctuations. While designing products we have to keep in mind to make them to be able to work in Indian environment. The second challenge was to position our products with the likes of Tata, Reliance, Pearson, Educomp etc. Creating our brand value in market with such other brands motivated us to design optimal solutions. Third challenge posed to us was the problem of retaining talent and keep them focused.
How did you face these challenges?
We decided to switch the vendor internationally and worked with them and gave them the volume so that we could meet our changes as per our needs. This solved our problem of voltage fluctuations. We created value for employees in the company so that they stay associated with the company for long term. With the focus to create optimal solution, we were able to create brands which were cheaper than those of Tata, Reliance etc.
How is Next Education unique?
Next Education clearly understands that education is a ‘decades’ business and not ‘years’ business, that is why it has aligned its shareholders and management interests. This association goes a long way as in education only in long term one can make decent returns.
Second, it does not create the most profitable products but the most optimal products. We started as a digital company, but then we came out with books realising that children will read books till they completely move on to bagless papers. Our motto is to make products for children which can improve their learning today. So, we focus on creating products which can meet people’s need rather than looking for high market and growth sector.
Third, in India many people believe that customer satisfaction, systems and processes do not matter. We have an update of our customer relationship managing systems with which we are able to track every customer and its everyday usage. We ensure keeping this system in place to enhance our customer service experience. These things set us apart from other competitors.
How did you raise your funding?
We were very lucky to get money from two of our known friends who believed in our venture and that money has been good enough for us to be able to survive. For the past six years this money has been positive and profitable and so raising extra money has not been a requirement.
What are your further plans of expansion and funding?
With expansion we might go public by 2020 but as of now there has been no requirement to raise money . Money would not be a concern until and unless we chase some international opportunity. For India, we are self sufficient, profitable and can grow internally.
How important is technology in education?
Technology is the backbone of discipline not only in terms of product but technology in terms of delivery of the product also makes a difference. You create content but what if the hardware is not working? The children will not be able to experience it in the classroom. So today’s modern education company has to have a technology DNA only and not editor or any other DNA. It has to use technology implemented right from delivery to customer tracking to its core product which would be none without technology. These days HCL, Pearson and other forms are also building technology solutions. There is no survival without technology in every aspect and not just in product.
Give a brief of your business and revenue model.
In terms of revenue we’ve earned around 8 crore profit. We expect our company to grow at least 25 per cent year on year for at least 5-7 years. In terms of business model our digital business forms the major chunk of our business with books and curriculum solutions catching up.
Do you plan to go for further tie-ups or collaborations?
We acquired two companies last year, one for robotics and other for computer science. We are open for and always looking for creative entrepreneurship which can be taken up to schools.
There is no easy ladder to success. The world is full of infinite possibilities and countless opportunities, but your life and career are finite, meaning you have limited time to find what you’re searching for and make your mark on the world.