This Edtech Startup Uses AI To Provide Affordable Education
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
As education slowly moves online, India is noticing a significant growth in the number of children enrolling in online courses. While this paradigm shift is improving student’s learning at home’s comfort, with more audio, video and interactive tools, a large part of the population still remains in the dark.
While online education courses mostly take place on computers, in India only 11 per cent of households possess any computer, according to a National Statistical Office (NSO) report. Further, only 8 per cent of all households have both a computer and an Internet connection.
Understanding the significant digital divide in the country, Jairaj Bhattacharya and Shashank Pandey founded ConveGenius, an artificial intelligence (AI)-based startup that tries to reach out to the bottom 100 million kids who don’t have access to super-fast Internet connection or smart devices.
In an interview with Entrepreneur India, Bhattacharya shares the journey of ConveGenius and how it has impacted students.
“Build Something For Life”
The idea of doing something in the field of education made Bhattacharya and Pandey leave their well-paid jobs and return to their homeland.
“I wanted to build an enterprise that had a mission and could make a social impact,” said Bhattacharya.
In 2011, when Bhattacharya participated in the Young India Fellowship Programme, Sanjeev Bhikachandani, founder of Naukri.com, was his mentor.
“He told me to build something for life which will potentially become an institution. This helped me to venture into education,” added Bhattacharya. ConveGenius was founded in 2013 and operations started in 2014.
“So my idea was to get into the science of learning and understand how children learn and build something which could be potentially an affordable solution for the masses and could be consumed on phones and smartphones,” Bhattacharya explains.
Bhattacharya's sole aim was to bring down the cost of technology, thus making it affordable to masses.
Currently, ConveGenius is providing learning solutions from kindergarten to class 10, and has aligned with 20 curriculums and 16 state boards. However, by default, the platform follows the NCERT module. Apart from English, the edtech platform includes regional languages such as Marathi, Bengali, Urdu, and several others.
“Technology Must Integrate With Education”
According to Bhattacharya, ConveGenius completely leverages the AI technology to assess a student’s understanding level, the prerequisites required to start a chapter. The assessment is done through the help of multiple quizzes which not only helps to check the understanding of a candidate but also helps them memorize old chapters for a longer period of time.
Once the assessment is completed, the platform provides reading materials flanked with videos, games, and quizzes to make it an immersive learning experience.
Further explaining the importance of AI, Bhattacharya said they have data for millions of children whom they are teaching. Each student has a unique learning potential and knowledge. These data can eventually be used to understand what a child can potentially become. This will further enhance the country's skilled workforce. The data can also be used to link opportunities like scholarships and loans for students.
The edtech startup has also integrated nudge theory to understand the cognitive behaviour of students. Last year, they launched their learning solutions on web-based platforms like desktops and laptops.
“COVID Expedited Few Plans”
During a time when all schools are shut and physical distancing norms have to be followed in order to survive, ConvoGenius has seen a significant rise in student enrolment. In Pre-COVID era, ConveGenius had half a million students enrolled with their programme, the number has now risen to 1.1 million.
Bhattacharya said the pandemic has expedited few of their plans. “We wanted to launch phone solutions later, but because of the ongoing pandemic we had to launch WhatsApp-based lite version of our solution,” added Bhattacharya.
Bhattacharya believes downloading an application or going to a website can be difficult for parents thus hampering the learning of a student. However, we know WhatsApp is majorly used, thus pushing learning solutions on the messenger based platform helps students to continue learning without any hindrance.
The startup has also collaborated with the education department of Himachal Pradesh to provide AI-based assessments, practice tests, and personalised learning. Bhattacharya confirmed many other state governments have followed the suit and they will soon be collaborating with them in future.
According to Bhattacharya, they have a long way to go as they have only reached one per cent of their vision of teaching the bottom 100 million. He believes that technology should be available to all and that technology should not be integrated on the basis of tier I or II cities.
The startup has till date raised INR 20 crores from its existing investors - The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), Benori Ventures and Rajat Dhawan