EdTech Review, in association with AWS EdStart, came up with another amazing FeaturED interview. Deepika, AWS EdStart Program Lead, India, interviewed the founders at the EdTech startup LilacBuds – Mr. Rajiv Ganjoo, Co-founder & CEO, and Mr. Preyash Shah, Co-founder & CTO.
The FeaturEd interview series shares insights about EdTech startups and market segments. It also aims to discuss the current state, trends, challenges, and opportunities in the industry.
Insights from the interview:
Preyash (Co-Founder, LilacBuds) is an experienced product expert who works on data and technology. At LilacBuds, he converts big ideas to reality and chiefly looks after technical operations as the CTO.
In light of students being confused about higher education, specifically about studying abroad, Preyash explained LilacBuds and its offerings:
We want to be the starting point for the students in higher education. We aim to provide relevant information, access to customised mentoring & guidance, impartial advice, and a lot more to help them (students) make the right decision to help them transition from schooling to undergrad or undergrad to post-grad. We want to offer all this in the form of a packaged product.
Rajiv, Co-Founder, LilacBuds, has 18+ years of corporate experience. Currently the Chief Evangelist and ideator at LilacBudshas, he has counselled 500+ aspirants to the world’s top 50 universities. Rajiv has previously led Veritas Test Prep’s India Operations, co-founded a VC-funded EdTech Startup, and was the business head at Career Launcher.
Against the bias and misguidance of many higher education advisories, Rajiv spoke of LilacBuds’ digital-first approach, diagnostic assessments, and full-fledged advisory pragmatically empowering over 3000 students. Additionally, he discussed the goal of empowering students by making them aware of themselves better through their product, assisting them in taking the right approach under the guidance of a curated set of mentors from top schools. He shared how LilacBuds maintains transparency and offers the best advice per students’ profiles and needs.
Rajiv also pointed out the overcrowding of individual counsellors, agents, unstructured and pigeonholed advisories in higher education, and how Lilacbuds uniquely addresses such issues to rescue students.
Talking about the difficulties of counselling millions of students virtually, Preyash underlined the importance of choosing the right technology. “Be it communication with the mentors, document editing, information storage, or practising video essays and interviews for the universities, LilacBuds has essentially built the entire (technological) foundation layer.”
Rajiv highlighted the pivotal technological and infrastructural backing of AWS in helping LilacBuds set themselves up for success. “We use AWS EdStart program as an ecosystem or guide to tap into for advice often,” he said.
LilacBuds is currently on a B2C model but is creating a new model to offer intelligence to universities globally to pick up the right individuals.
Rajiv talked of his early days in the corporate world, his careers’ golden years, and how he got into entrepreneurial shoes, stating that he had always wanted to work on the education pain points and advocate quality education and its outcomes.
The two co-founders also shed light on some of the motivating factors behind coming up with LilacBuds.
In response to Deepika’s question about the number of aspirants experiencing LilacBuds, their feedback, impacts, growth metrics, Preyash replied that Lilacbuds is one of the first organisations to use a product that takes care of the entire process from start to finish. He explained:
We started with 50 students. We now have 3,000+ students who took the diagnostic assessments and benefited from them. There are over 70 mentors with whom students have had interactions. Our team is engrossed in helping students get onto the right path and make wise decisions. Our ears are open to their feedback, giving us a clear path for using a seamless and transparent process in our plans for the coming two years.
Rajiv lauded the quality that LilacBuds serves and highlighted their achievements. “Over 95% of students heard back from top schools such as Cornell, Yale, Oxford, Carnegie Mellon, and more,” he said, “And 20%+ students received over $60,000 worth of scholarships.”
Preyash, on the other hand, also touched upon some of the challenges, such as finding the right technological talent, building a solid foundation on technology, and other pertinent factors. He also mentioned their plans to expand to other countries and their funding proposals to help scale their offerings, including Intelli Recruitment, to different geographies.
Deepika concluded this highly insightful and engaging discussion with some deeper questions based on their digital-first approach, roadmap, the support they seek, untapped opportunities in the EdTech space, and a short live demonstration of their product in-process scheduled for launch on 1st of April 2022.
About AWS EdStart:
AWS EdStart, the AWS educational technology (EdTech) startup accelerator, is designed to help entrepreneurs build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions in the AWS Cloud. The program enables EdTech startups to move faster with tailored benefits. Learn more.