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This Startup Is Offering Personalized Learning At present, Toppr has 35 million monthly active users and 2 million daily active users

By Debarghya Sil

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Zishaan Hayath, chief executive officer and founder of Toppr

The Indian education system has been relying on a century-old system. If you ask your parents or even grandparents, chances are high that they have gone through the same rigorous school life where they took 8 classes a day, failed to interact directly with the teachers, memorized the answers just to pass the exam. It was still ongoing in the major part of the country until the pandemic shook the world.

Indian education was one space that was hesitant and rather skeptical about adapting technology. However, we all are aware of how technology became the pallbearer of the entire education system not only in India but across the world. While ed-tech platforms are at present hogging the spotlight, few of them have predicted edtech to be the future. Toppr, a 2014 founded Mumbai-based startup was one among them.

In an interaction with Entrepreneur India, Zishaan Hayath, chief executive officer and founder of Toppr shares the reason behind launching Toppr and the future of the edtech sector.

Personalized Learning

Hayath has been a serial entrepreneur for quite some time. After working for ITC and Opera solutions, Hayath decided to plunge into the entrepreneurial world. His first startup was Chaupati Bazaar, a phone-commerce startup that enabled mobile users to buy home appliances, children's products, books and magazines over the phone. The startup was later acquired by Kishore Biyani-led Future Group. He is also an active angel investor and one of the first to have given a cheque to now a Unicorn cab aggregator startup - OLA.

Zishan started Toppr in 2014 to use technology to make learning personalized.

"We took a 360° view of a K-12 student's learning needs in order to define our roadmap. Toppr's product ecosystem solved exactly this - learning app for after-school learning, School OS, homework and exam help and extra-curricular coding classes," he added.

Toppr's flagship learning app provides free resources in the form of video lectures, revision tips and AI-enabled instant answers to doubts. As part of the premium offering (Toppr Plus), students can enroll in courses and follow a timetable, practice questions & tests, get one-on-one mentoring. Students can even chat with a tutor 24x7 to resolve their doubts.

At present, Toppr has 35 million monthly active users and 2 million daily active users.

Bottle-Neck Competition

When there is a demand, more players will emerge and more aggressive will be the market acquisition. If we talk about the year 2020, which is now considered as the watershed moment for the ed-tech space, due to rising demand witnessed a capital infusion of $2.22 billion compared to $553 million in the previous year. As per a report by Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IVCA) and PGA Labs data at least 92 players attracted funding in 2020, out of which 61 players received seed funding. The report further estimated that education is a $117 billion market in India with around 360 million learners in 2019-20. We also saw the entry of Unacademy becoming Unicorn along with a plethora of acquisitions to get a strong foothold.

"Firstly, competition is a good thing for the ecosystem as it will maximize innovation and value to the user. We believe the market is large enough for multiple large players to thrive, just as in other domains such as media, consumer goods, telecom. As for growth, our focus has been on creating a comprehensive learning experience which is loved by our students, which will continue to drive adoption for our products over the coming years," Hayath added.

The startup, unlike others at present, is sharing content for the Indian market.

Customer Acquisition & Future

Hayath led Topper till date has raised funding worth $110 million and are backed by SAIF Partners, Helion Venture Partners, Eight RoadsVentures, KaizenPE and Foundation Holdings. When asked about how Toppr is managing to acquire customers without denting unit economics, he said, " We drive organic traffic on our apps and websites by providing free learning resources. Every month, more than 35 million students use our products, with minimal spending on customer acquisition. This reduces our overall customer acquisition cost (CAC) significantly."

As per him, education is a vast domain with multiple stakeholders and varying needs depending on the subject, geography, grades, skill levels. He said there are multiple models in the edtech space such as one-on-one vs one-on-many, active learning vs passive learning, single module vs multiple module structure.

"While some consolidation is inevitable, I think 4-5 large players will co-exist in the market. Anyone who is able to solve a specific user problem with a superior experience will be able to carve out a space for itself," he concluded.

Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Correspondent

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