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Edtech start-ups are teaming up education with advanced technology to impart knowledge to young generation in most interactive way. At present, the education industry is more than $30 billion in India alone and this clearly states that there is a huge opportunity for these start-ups to grow and shine. Investors are also utilising these opportunity by backing these start-ups.
Recently, Mississippi State University (MSU) incubated edtech start-up CampusKnot has received $100,000 funding from a private investor based out of Gulf Coast. CampusKnot, founded by three Indian students Rahul Gopal, Hiten Patel and Perceus Mody, and a German student Katja Walter, is designed to increase collaboration among faculty and students. The site which was launched in 2013 gives its users a clearinghouse for schedules, assignments and other academic events. It also offers a marketplace for textbooks, including a feature making them searchable by title, subject and author’s name.
Commenting on the same line, Rahul Gopal, who is a senior aerospace engineering major and Co-Founder, CampusKnot said, “We’re excited, but we’re scared at the same time. It’s funny, I guess, how I feel about it, but I’m looking forward to continuing to grow the company. The faculty will be the celebrities of this site as they can post access to knowledge for their ‘fans.”
As a CSR activity, CampusKnot also donates a percentage of its revenue to a non-profit organization known as the “Being Student Foundation.” This revenue is then used to fund scholarships, textbooks, laptops and other essential resources and materials.
Eric Hill, Director, E-Center, which is the extended business and incubation arm of Mississippi State University, said, “They are in a very competitive market where the process for generating revenue isn’t very quick, but they’ve stuck with it because they believe in their vision whole heartedly. This is the sort of thing you see when you have a student base that buys into the concept of entrepreneurship. It’s nice to see these guys get a win for their hard work.”
E-Centre holds a vision to create a culture of entrepreneurial activity and provide means to support business start-ups by mentoring with MSU partners, create an alumni network of entrepreneurs and partner with private businesses to expand opportunities. They currently have about 40 start-ups and entrepreneurs on-board.
Apart from this, MSU also provides start-ups and other early stage companies with infrastructure, community, and resources designed to help them build stable, fast-growth businesses. They also have a network of angel investors, who provide these start-ups access to larger capital. MSU Angel Network is comprised of investors, who actively pursue opportunities to invest in early-stage ventures.
The way ahead
Though CampusKnot is still in a testing phase, the company is recruiting student leaders and faculty members to form focus groups for a soft launch of the site this fall. “We are not looking to have a job; we are looking at creating jobs and helping to solve educational problems,” said Hiten Patel, who graduated from MSU in 2013 with a degree in information systems and now pursuing a second degree in marketing.
In last few years, education sector has witnessed stupendous growth in India and this growth is driven by initiatives of entrepreneurs. If we go by reports, the first half of 2015, saw a 13 per cent increase in the number of education start-ups as compared to 2014. Around $40 million was invested across five ed-tech start-ups just in the month of April 2015. Some of the recent investments in this space include Simplilearn ($15 million), Vedantu ($5 million), Toppr ($10 million) and Embibe ($4 million).