Keeping The Spark Alive In Edtech Sector

PlanetSpark aims to shape a generation of confident communicators by deploying an application-based curriculum focused on public speaking and creative writing

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In 2016 two former hostel mates decided to resolve the fundamental structural problems in the education ecosystem and came up with PlanetSpark, an edtech startup.

Company handout
Left to right, Kunal Malik and Maneesh Dhooper

The platform was founded by XLRI graduates Kunal Malik and Maneesh Dhooper. Before starting the company, Malik worked closely with the FMCG industry and held leadership positions at companies like Unilever, while Maneesh Dhooper was associated with Novartis in its global HQ in Basel, Switzerland. There he worked as the founding member of the Africa Corporate Learning University.

"Regardless of our respective professional enterprises, we were always keen on resolving the fundamental structural problems in the education ecosystem. Hence, we came together in 2016 and started PlanetSpark to disrupt the unorganized private tuition sector in India," said Maneesh Dhooper, co-founder PlanetSpark.

Through its proposition, PlanetSpark aims to shape a generation of confident communicators by deploying an application-based curriculum focused on public speaking and creative writing. PlanetSpark's core proposition is all about communication skills training for the K-12 segment. "We are trying to iron out the communication skills-related challenges of individuals globally, by intervening at the grassroot level of education."

The founders consider communication to be a life skill technique. "Communication cannot be inculcated by imparting just theoretical knowledge and through mass classroom education. It needs personal attention as there is a fear associated with public speaking - which is the most significant part of communication skills. Hence PlanetSpark only offers "1:1 live classes' wherein students can open up in confidence with their teachers and learn the fundamentals of communication. Gradually as their apprehensions reduce, they are enrolled in different clubs around activities such as Podcasting, Debating, Theatre, Book Writing, etc., where they are trained through activity-based learning. Additionally, PlanetSpark also enables students to leverage their public speaking and creative writing skills through their own podcast shows and books," said the co-founder.

Recently, a 12-year-old UAE-based girl Ankita Ajay has launched her first novel through PlanetSpark's Young Authors Program. An aspiring thriller Novelist who is fond of human psychology has started her writing career with a thriller titled 'The Whitest of Roses'.

So far, PlanetSpark has raised total funding of $17.2 million through three rounds of investment. Its latest funding took place in December 2021, wherein, the startup raised $13.5 million in a SeriesB round from Prime Venture Partners and marquee global entrepreneurs including Binny Bansal, Deep Kalra, Dr Ashish Gupta, Gokul Rajaram and Shirish Nandkarni.

Describing the current competition in the market, he said, "K-12 edtech industry is categorized into test preparations, school tuitions and career and life skills. PlanetSpark operates in the career and life skills segment of the industry. It starts from a young age of around 4 years and goes up to the age of 16. Communication skills which are amongst the most fundamental and desired life skills do not have many dedicated players. The global market for communication skills for children is worth $80 billion. While the demand is massive, there is no structural intervention from the global education players that caters specifically to this demand. Hence PlanetSpark, being an early entrant in this category, is witnessing high traction from students and parents across the globe. Currently, it is present across 13 countries including The US, Canada, Middle East and southeast Asia."

PlanetSpark aims to infuse the freshly raised funds to increase its teaching strength and further solidify its presence in the existing markets. The platform has 16,500-plus active students.