FeaturED is an exclusive interview series where edtech founders and education thought leaders contemplate and discuss the current state, trends, challenges, and opportunities in the edtech industry and share about their respective organizations, markets, and sectors.
This section is exclusively brought to you by AWS EdStart in association with EdTechReview.
Deepika - AWS Program Lead, India, AWS EdStart interviewed the founders of PrepBytes, Mamta Kumari and Aditya Bhushan Verma. The session was based on the theme - the good, bad, and ugly of the founders' journey while building their education solutions, the challenges faced, and more.
(Co-Founder), NIT JSR alumnus
Aditya Bhushan Verma
(Co-Founder), IIT Kharagpur alumnus
Focusing on the journey thus far, the co-founders talk about how they identified the employability gaps and other problems in the jobs market and came up with a solution in the shape of PrepBytes.
They also highlight the magnitude of the problem, the drive behind their passion for solving them, the company's vision, and how PrepBytes helps in better placement preparations.
What's the elevator pitch for PrepBytes?
"We work on solving a pervasive problem - unemployability. We focus majorly on the tech sector. While observing this sector, we discovered that there is a shortage of quality candidates," says Mamta, Co-Founder, PrepBytes.
“Companies nowadays are ready to pay higher than the industry standard salaries to acquire tech talents is finding the right skill is still a challenge despite the volume of graduates passing out every year, she explains.
Therefore, the problem is quality, & not quantity.
We are trying to solve the problem of employability by helping students acquire the skills and talent required, and one of the essential skills, “problem-solving skills”, is our primary focus.
Elucidating the main aim of providing students with suitable courses and programs, she explains how they have developed an ecosystem. They conduct many free & paid sessions, programs, and personalized courses to lend support to students and make them aware of
- what skills and courses are in demand
- how can students acquire such skills
- how can students make the most out of their education years in college to help them secure their dream job
When and how did you start PrepBytes? What're your backgrounds? Who all do you have supporting you?
Sharing their job experiences, Aditya, responds, "when we met in person (Mamta and me), we discussed the employability gaps, and Mamta was able to identify the problem at the outset too.
Many students face difficulty finding a consolidated platform to prepare for any coding job. This was one part of the problem. To better understand the problem, we interviewed several freshers and corporates. The corporate sector, too, is struggling to get the right set of talent. This skills gap and talent mismatch is the problem statement."
Who are you solving this problem for? How big is the market opportunity...?
Mamta enunciates, "we are majorly trying to solve the underlying problems for those seeking a tech job. As of now, most students are doing their engineering, MCA, or pursuing some other master's degree. They are targeting tech jobs. With our experience, we know that they need not necessarily be from a computer science background to land up with tech jobs. Even if they're from some other background (mechanical, civil or electronics engineering), they eventually end up getting a job in the tech industry because there are more openings."
Mismatch of skills and talents leading to poor quality hirings, this is where the problem lies, according to her.
She says, “lakhs of students are passing out every year, but the irony is that only a few percentages can get the tech job. The rest of them either end up not having a job at all, or they do any non-tech jobs despite their educational background.
Since we both have expertise in the tech industry, we began with this particular market first. Besides offering the right opportunities to students, we also target at providing the right talent to companies.”
She concludes by stating, "We already know that the lack of talent is not only in the tech industry but in the other domains too. We are also planning to go ahead and target the adjacent sectors, focusing majorly on folks passing out every year from colleges. We bring courses and programs for all the four years of the college."
What are the main support pillars for an early-stage start-up? How have programs like AWS EdStart and its EdStart collaborator UIncept benefited you?
Highlighting the PrepBytes journey, Aditya says, "For an early-stage start-up, the more support you get, it is better for you. Initially, many experienced founders guided us on approaching the problem statement. Still, a great validation came our way when UIncept and AWS EdStart recognized us for our work.”
“Apart from the big support network, mentorship, tech capabilities, etc., the biggest support is the confidence that gets instilled into us as an entrepreneur when such organizations back you up.” Support from both these organizations has strengthened the PrepBytes team and given a confidence boost.
Mamta adds to the conversation, "In the recent past, Google shortlisted ten women lead start-ups from the country, in an annual event, and we were one amongst them. At that time, we were in the ideation phase, and this shortlist became one of the early successes."
The interview further focused on the following aspects:
- How did you approach the problem-solving for this market?
- What's the current stage for PrepBytes? How many students are using PrepBytes?
- What level of engagement and impact have you seen for the students you work with?
- What are some of the key challenges facing PrepBytes? How are you overcoming them? (Funding, development, market access, channels, publicity, etc.)
- What's the product's personalization capability? What's the tech infrastructure and the roadmap planned?
- What are some key benefits of AWS cloud in providing?
- What is PrepBytes's growth and expansion plan for the coming years, say 18-24 months down the line?
- How is PrepBytes uniquely positioned to help college students? How are you different?
- What, according to you, is the most common mistake an edtech founder makes?
- What's your take on the future of higher education in India?
Watch this interview to learn more about PrepBytes, its journey, growth, expansion plan, the future of higher education in India and a lot more. This is a must-watch interview.
About AWS EdStart:
AWS EdStart, the AWS educational technology (EdTech) start-up 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 start-ups to move faster with tailored benefits. Learn More.