We chose to avoid brick and mortar model in education: Vibha Kagzi
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Indian Education 2017-03-06

We chose to avoid brick and mortar model in education: Vibha Kagzi

ReachIvy.com has disrupted the counseling process, by leveraging technology to improve access to the best education specialists, who have graduated from top global institutes.

We chose to avoid brick and mortar model in education: Vibha Kagzi

In the crowded market of education agencies, which are helping students in studying abroad, ReachIvy.com has marked its niche with creating a strong virtual presence across the world. The online player has disrupted the counseling process, by leveraging technology to improve access to the best education specialists, who have graduated from top global institutes. Students and parents can now work with us seamlessly over phone, skype and email, saving them travel time and cost without compromising on quality. Thus briefing about the market of education agencies, challenges and opportunities for students, Vibha Kagzi, Founder & CEO, ReachIvy.com spoke to educationbiz.com.

How do you describe study abroad sector?
The study abroad sector encompasses services that enable students to study at international schools and colleges, from high school all the way to graduate degrees such as Phds and executive education. The eco-system consists of educational consultants, loan companies, test preparation centers, visa services etc.

What is the demand among students to study abroad?
Over 300,000 Indian students travel abroad to study. The Indian study abroad market is growing exponentially. One significant barometer is the increase in the number of international schools offering IB, Cambridge board and other international degrees that serve as feeder programs to send Indian students to top schools abroad. Among these 23% are undergraduates and 77% are post-graduates.

Country breakdown: 44.3% (USA), 6.1% (UK), 16.7% (Australia)

Degree split: 75.7% (Master's), 9.3% (UG), Other Postgraduate (15.0%)

Tell us about the education agencies in the market and how have you disrupted the space?
There are large numbers of education agencies that have partnered with universities and operate using a commission model.Their services are offered at a very low cost to students, as they are a referral fee driven model, making students believe they were getting high quality services for cheap. Over the time, the market dynamic has given us a competitive advantage as students are opting to pay for honest advice based on their goals and realise the inherent value of the services we offer.

Students and parents are used to more traditional face-to-face interactions. However, our track record and access to a team of international Ivy-educated counselors has managed to successfully avert this concern entirely. We have disrupted the counseling process, by leveraging technology to improve access to the best education specialists, who have graduated from top global institutes. Students and parents can now work with us seamlessly over phone, skype and email, saving them travel time and cost without compromising on quality.

What’s the competition like?
At the low and medium segment, there are several local agencies servicing their smaller areas. Some of these have expanded and established nation-wide centers. We chose to avoid a brick and mortar model and established a virtual presence expanding our reach worldwide. Here, we compete with other international companies that offer services virtually. Overall, it’s a crowded space, but we offer an extremely niche and high quality service that differentiates us.

What personal qualities one needs to acquire to reach Ivy League?
The personal qualities that schools are looking for vary according to the mission and values of these respective programs. Schools look for high academic accomplishment, leadership ability, extra-curricular and community impact, humility and an ability to thrive in diverse situations. This is at the heart of the service that ReachIvy.com provides – we help students find their strategic fit based on how their profiles align with the philosophy of each institution.

What is the remuneration for various types of assignments?
The market is exceptionally fragmented with extremely low-end services going to high-quality premium players. Price-points for end-to-end services can cost anywhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,00,000.

How difficult is it to establish a foothold in the space?
This is a very crowded space with some very well entrenched players who have been operating for many decades. Establishing a foothold in the space is initially very challenging, since parents and students are looking for track record of success. Also, getting the word out and reaching your target audience is challenging, since marketing activities are expensive and initially resources are very limited. Overtime, we grew by leveraging our personal and professional networks and by proving the quality of our service.

What are the opportunities after passing out from top global universities?
There are a multitude of opportunities available for students who graduate from top schools. Students can opt to join the public sector, enter the corporate world, start their own venture, or lead a non-profit organisation.

Please brief us on education at Harvard, and how different it is from Indian Education?
Students are required to participate in classroom discussions. The teaching style is interactive and not lecture based, as is common in India. With a peer set coming from over 80 different countries, Harvard is a melting pot of diversity and culture. This global diversity is missing in Indian colleges and schools. The campuses are endowed with copious resources such as extensive libraries, an innovation lab to foster entrepreneurship, high-tech classrooms that allow live webinars, and multiple fitness resources.

The college fosters a sense of community from your first day on campus. There is a high sense of camaraderie among students and this bond continues long after you’re graduated. The class congregates on campus every 5, 10, 15, 20 years etc. Also, local alumni chapters are very active allowing for city-level engagement. I am the President of the Harvard Club of Mumbai and my role is to enable and facilitate alumni interactions in Mumbai.

I feel that anybody can study abroad.It is just a matter of grit, determination, believing in oneself, starting early and getting the right guidance.

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