Alakh Pandey's PW Takes Flight
With over 50 lakh app downloads and more than 600,000 students spending over an hour on the Physics Wallah app, the platform has been expanding at a rapid pace
From wanting to be a pilot, actor or anything which led to success, Alakh Pandey commenced home tutoring when he was in class 6. Irrespective of the income being generated from tutoring at such an age, it was the thrill of being able to emulate his teachers by imparting knowledge to those in need of it even when he himself was a student and had much more to learn in life.
In class 11, he got an opportunity to teach in an offline coaching centre through which he got a massive response from students, which reaffirmed his belief that he could teach Physics. Due to financial constraints, Alakh was unable to join IIT-JEE coaching but he was adamant on pursuing Physics as his major in graduation. Alakh cracked Uttar Pradesh State Entrance Exam and was selected for one of the top colleges in the state. However, after spending two years in college, Alakh Pandey witnessed gaps in the way Physics was being taught which gave him an idea to start his own tutoring for the subject and the circumstances posed him to dropout. Later, he went to his hometown and established a brick-and-mortar coaching centre with the name of 'Physics Wala' in partnership with 'Softways Academy' and taught for four years.
Alakh says 'Physics Wala' originated during a conversation with his sister while sipping a cup of tea in a tea stall, where the owner is colloquially known as "chai wala". Alakh wanted to create much bigger impact with expanding the horizon of tutoring to larger number of students and thats when, he expressed his desire to start his own Youtube channel 'Physics Wala' to his sister, which is now called 'PhysicsWallah' and has become a household name. When Alakh revealed to his parents his inclination to provide education to students on YouTube, his mother supported him wholeheartedly, while his father was apprehensive about his decision, which he thought was "risky".
Despite all the struggles, Alakh started posting educational content for JEE aspirants on YouTube in 2017 with limited resources - a marker, a whiteboard and a phone. His channel got over 10,000 subscribers in a year. Later, he totally left the coaching centre to dedicatedly work towards making an impact in the lives of students, who face financial constraints and are unable to fulfill their dreams and provide them quality content. He taught the entire JEE syllabus and generated a huge response. His channel generated 100,000 subscribers every month. Alakh's aim was to make the content comprehensive and innovative so he tried experimenting with his YouTube videos.
In no time, he became a popular figure among students because of his "unique" style of teaching and his simplified approach in dealing with complex topics. PhysicsWallah was already popular among students even before the pandemic. Little did he realise that his popularity was so high that on the first day of the launch of his live class during the pandemic in 2020 the servers crashed because over 40,000 students logged in at the same time.
"We were not expecting such a massive response from students that the app would crash on the first day itself with over 3 lakh downloads at once," he said. Seeing the steady increase in the number of enrolments, Alakh had to hire more teachers to teach students by creating different batches and launching various courses. Seeing the immense number of enrolments, Alakh hired more teachers to serve students. He personally handpicked teachers by taking a lot of interviews and demo classes before he ended up hiring four teachers. "The charm of edtech were the influencers. The students associated themselves with the influencers. After knowing they are not good in content, our association with them ended," he said.
With over 50 lakh app downloads and more than 600,000 students spending over an hour on the Physics Wallah app, the platform has been expanding at a rapid pace. Other competitors who started off at the same time as Alakh Pandey got acquired by the giants in the sector. Now, the platform has plans to rebrand itself to 'PW' soon. Alakh looks after the academic hierarchy, structure inputs, recruitment and placement of teachers, and types of batches, among others. He also oversees the branding and marketing department. "I believe that one of the founders in an edtech startup should be a teacher because education is the foundation that technology is boosting," Alakh added.
In line with the government's move to promote hybrid classrooms, PW already has such centres termed 'Pathshalas' across 18 cities in India. Physics Wallah is also introducing courses in nine vernacular languages in order to expand its reach. The company has plans to expand its hybrid centres by bringing more personalization to the fore and introducing more digitization in products.
>>Founded in 2016
>>4.7 rating on the Play Store
>>82 lakh subscribers
>>5 million Play Store downloads
>>10 channels on YouTube
>>20 offline hybrid classrooms, aka Pathshalas
>> 5 lakh video solutions available on its app courses
>>1600-strong team of employees
>>5 lakh video solutions
>>More than 20 lakh auto generated answers at no cost to help millions of students