Education Interview 2016-09-23

How Simplilearn is tapping the right opportunities in online education space

Simplilearn is today one of the largest providers of online training and professional certification courses. We partner with companies and individual professionals to address their unique learning needs and provide training that help working professionals....

How Simplilearn is tapping the right opportunities in online education space

The Indian education market is estimated to be worth Rupees 5.9 trillion in 2014-15. With nearly half the population of India below the age of 25 and increasing penetration of Internet & mobile devices nowadays, the online education market in India is bound to grow by leaps and bounds.

Infrastructure and regulation issues might be slowing down the otherwise accelerating online education space in India, especially in the unregulated markets but this space is poised for an immense growth in the near future. India’s online education market size is predicted to grow to $40 billion by 2017 from the present $20 billion.

Tapping the opportunity in this market right is Simplilearn,an online education provider of professional training based in San Francisco, California, USA and Bangalore, India. The company offers over 400 courses in the area of IT, programming, digital marketing, and project management. In an interview with, Ashish Virmani, Vice President, Simplilearn, tells us about how Simplilearn tapped the potential market ready for online learning and trained professionals across globe to hone their skills and get them market ready. Let’s read about it.

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

Simplilearn is today one of the largest providers of online training and professional certification courses. We partner with companies and individual professionals to address their unique learning needs and provide training that help working professionals achieve their career goals. We’ve trained over 500,000 professionals till date by helping them up-skill in a range of new and emerging technologies like Digital marketing, Big Data, Data Science, Mobile App Development, IT Security, Agile Scrum to name a few.

What led to the inception of Simplilearn? How has Simplilearn grown from the day of its inception?

Simplilearn was started out of a personal blog in 2009 after the founder Krishna Kumar sold his first venture– TechUnified. The blog was a personal platform where he helped PMP aspirants to crack their certification examinations through audio and visual e-tutorials. There was a surge of people visiting the blog from various parts of the world and in less than nine months and trained over 3,000 professionals from over 30 countries. Over time, the personal blog on project management had immense potential to become an online business that can cater to the training needs of professionals. Today, we have office operations in San Francisco, United States and Bangalore, India with close to 500 employees.

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

We have raised $28 million from our Series A, B and C funding over the years from a number of investors. In April 2015, we raised $15M in Series C funding from Mayfield Fund, Kalaari Capital and Helion Venture Partners.

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

As we grew out of the initial bottlenecks in the first few years of establishing the business, we eventually believed that there was a need to own the category of professional certification training that we pioneered and built. One of challenge has been that most of the professionals know the benefit of training and getting certified, but have an inertia about being pro-active about their careers. To break the notion that exists among our target audience, we created more awareness about the category by expanding our marketing efforts towards our national TVC with Irrfan Khan along with outdoor and radio campaigns which boosted the brand visibility to a great extent in India.

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

Online learning has gained popularity over the last few years and with technologies like Big Data, Cloud and Digital Marketing changing the face of Indian IT industry today, the shift has enabled more and more professionals to come forward and up-skill themselves for assured career growth. We have been meeting the learning needs of professionals through innovative learning methods like the Flexi-Pass, a first of its kind in the market that lets our customers learn via multiple online classrooms at their own flexibility. We have achieved an industry-high course completion rate of 72 per cent by helping 500,000 professionals get trained and certified through 400 courses across 10 categories, which have been developed and taught by a dream team of globally acclaimed course advisors and trainers.

How important is technology in education? Do you think the future of India’s education industry lies in EdTech? Elaborate.

In the past few years, online and technology-driven education have gained major traction in the educational discourse by overcoming the challenges of classroom-based physical education irrespective of cost, accessibility, time or convenience factors. Technology in education is enabling students to increase their skill-sets by opting for courses taught by the best industry experts and universities across the world. The ed-tech industry is booming and without doubt India’s education industry will undergo impactful developments owing the following factors:

  • Demand for quality global education by Indian population
  • Embedded soft-skill modules they appear to offer
  • Co-branded certification
  • Govt. target of training 500 million by 2022
  • Large private sector presence in e-learning
  • Increasing preference for online certification
  • Where do you see India’s education sector in the next 5 years? Where do you see Simplilearn in the next 5 years.

    With advancement of technology, education has also changed with time. There are significant challenges in the mass adoption of education-oriented, technology-based products and services throughout the country. However, government and private institutions too are working towards encouraging a mass adoption of digital learning through MOOCs with platforms like ‘Swayam’. The massive potential of e-learning will soon be realized in the coming years and India will see a far-reaching transformation which will be driven by ed-tech startups who are already taking technology-driven education to a pan India level.

    We are working towards building Simplilearn as the “go-to career partner” for working professionals across industries globally. Apart from sustaining our efforts in targeting individual professionals directly, we are focused about increasing our presence in the enterprise training domain as well over the next 1-2 years.

    Thus, the Indian online education market is experiencing growth with the changing perception of people towards pursuing courses online. With even a minor 10 per cent transition from classroom training centres to online training, the online education industry would open up a multi billion dollar industry.

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