"Synchronous Is Superior Format for Online Learning"
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Vedantu is not its founders first stint in the education sector. The story goes back to 2006 when the trio, Vamsi Krishna, Pulkit Jain and Anand Prakash—all three alums of coveted IIT-Roorke and IIT-Bombay—started a coaching institute for competitive exams, Lakshya in Barnala, Punjab.
The idea was simple – make quality education accessible in smaller cities, and the business was an instant success. “We started teaching with a batch of 35 students and were overwhelmed to see 11 of them make to the top IITs of the country,” said co-founder and CEO Krishna in an interaction with Entrepreneur India.
The next step was to emulate the same success in other parts of the country with the same method. But the founders soon realised the limitations of scaling a brick-and-mortar business. “Building scale of this nature would have been a huge challenge if we restricted ourselves to offline coaching. We knew that online was the only plausible solution to reach students PAN India,” recalled Krishna.
This led to the genesis of Vedantu, an all-inclusive online tutoring platform.
The eight year old company offers live interactive classes to students across grades K1-12, for all major boards and top competitive exams, such as Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for admission into engineering colleges and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical colleges.
Backed by marquee global investors like Tiger Global Management, Omidyar Network, Coatue Management and GGV Capital, Vedantu has so far raised about USD 200 million funding. The latest fundraise was of USD 100 million at a valuation of USD 600 million in July this year as the edtech boom caused by the Covid-19 pandemic drove investors to pump money in the sector.
Edtech’s Silver Lining in the Pandemic
Like most companies in the edtech space, Vedantu’s growth was catapulted by the Covid-19 outbreak as students flocked to online learning amidst the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the virus.
“We were on top of the pandemic situation and were one of the first to take a positive step in offering free access to our LIVE online classes for students across the country,” said Krishna. Between March and July, Vedantu claims to have clocked growth of 220 per cent, with more than 2 million students attending and teachers delivering over 8 million hours of live classes. Currently, the platform has about 2.7 million subscribers.
“With over 6.92 million lifetime learners engaged on our online learning platform, we are exploring opportunities to scale impact as we achieve 9X growth and look forward to adding around 30-40 per cent employees more this year,” said Krishna.(L-R) Pulkit Jain, Co-founder & Head - Product, Anand Prakash, Co-founder & Head- Academics, Vamsi Krishna, CEO & Co-founder
Currently, the platform offers both synchronous—live meetings—and asynchronous—pre-recorded videos—methods of learning, but former is the company’s main forte. “Vedantu has always believed in the concept of LIVE interactive classes being a superior format for online learning which creates greater learning outcomes,” Krishna stated in an official statament released during the company's Series D funding in July.
“We believe the best learning happens when a teacher personally sits with a student to discuss and teach him/her on a notebook shared between them,” Krishna explained in an interaction with Entrepreneur India. “Vedantu’s online tutoring platform enables LIVE interactive learning between a teacher and a student. In a LIVE session, a teacher can give personalized teaching using two-way audio, video and whiteboarding tools where both teacher and student are able to see, hear, write and interact in real-time.”
Engaging Students to Ensure Shift to Online Learning Lasts
On being asked what is the company doing to ensure that the switch from offline to online made by students during the lockdown doesn’t reverse when schools and coaching centres re-open, Krishna said technology has made education more accessible, immersive, fun and a highly personalized experience for students, which makes the reverse shift unlikely.
“The virtual mode itself is a boon as students can learn anytime in the safe confines of their home,” he said. “Also, now students from the remotest parts of the country have access to quality teachers and content at an affordable price or even free of cost.”
Technology has enabled students from the remotest parts of the country to have access to quality teachers and content at an affordable price or even free of cost - Vamsi Krishna, co-founder and CEO, Vedantu.
Moreover, it’s a win-win situation for teachers as well, as technology has enabled them to measure student’s engagement more effectively. “We now have an effective way to ‘mathematically measure’ student’s learning engagement, how deeply they were engaged in the learning process and the scale of improvement in the learning outcome. This scientific measurement process also helps parents stay updated about their child’s progress,” he said.
The company achieves this through its W.A.V.E platform, which is based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. The tech-savvy platform measures the effectiveness of a program and attentiveness of each student using over 70 parameters.
The Way Ahead for Vedantu
“Our singular vision is to drive impact at scale and we have launched early learner category, super coders, new product experiences and non-academic courses keeping in mind the current situation,” said Krishna responding to what are the new products that the company has launched in the past few months.
The Bengaluru-based company is a firm believer of making learning fun and personalised for students and will focus on just that in the coming months.
“We will continue to focus on technology and keep student interaction and engagement at our core. We believe this will be the key towards driving category and business growth,” Krishna said.