A key trait of the Indian market that everyone knows is that it is “too diverse”. With the growth in India’s online education market, you will find hundreds of startups working hard to cater different problems of students.
Seeing the trend in marketplaces and its need in the student market, this edtech startup provides content for online test prep in multiple Indian languages. Here’s what we explored about the startup in a conversation with Vipin Agarwal, CEO, OnlineTyari.
It is one of the largest test preparation platform (app & website) that provides content in regional languages to hundreds and thousands of people who appear for entrance exams for government jobs. OnlineTyari provides individuals relevant material to prepare for job-oriented tests, including banking services, UPSC, GATE, Railways, NDA, Teacher’s test and State government jobs. Over two crore (20 million) people appear for entrance exams for government jobs every year, often with little access to good quality learning content in their native language. OnlineTyari bridges this digital divide by making education content available on mobile.
OnlineTyari app is available in English, Hindi and Marathi and will be adding more languages. It currently has over 2.5 million downloads.
The startup raised angel funding of INR 5 crore (USD 0.8 million) from 500 Startups, Mohandas Pai & others.
1. What is an elevator pitch for someone who does not know about your company?
OnlineTyari is one of the biggest marketplace for educational content for government exams with the best books and material from publishers & coaching classes. OnlineTyari provides access to education content in multiple Indian languages and uses a mobile-first approach to train people.
2. What is your company’s core value proposition? What problem are you solving and for whom?
OnlineTyari aims to revolutionize the $20bn market need for education services in India. Over three crore people appear for various jobs tests and academic entrance examinations every year, often with very little access to good quality study material. Because the distribution network for educational books and offline study materials in currently broken, students and job seekers struggle to find good platforms for preparation, even more acutely when they wish to study for examination in their native language. OnlineTyari bridges this digital divide by making education content available on mobile with a very simple and easy to use interface. It is our aim to contribute towards bringing literacy and livelihood to every Indian citizen as a step towards realizing a truly inclusive Digital India Mission.
3. What has been the market response till now? How do you plan to check on the user satisfaction?
OnlineTyari is just over a year old. In this short time, we have achieved 2.5 million app installs and over 1 million users use our app every single month. More than 2.7 lakh users study for exams on OT on any given day. In December alone our users were on our app for over 100mn minutes!
4. What inspired the idea of OnlineTyari? What is your vision?
In 2014, I was working as an advisor to the Government to help launch the National Digital Literacy Mission, also known as Disha – Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan, a mission to enable all Indian citizens to learn to operate computers. During one such trip to a small village near Gurgaon, I observed that people were shy of operating a computer. In a conversation, the village folk shared that youth in the circles were losing out on job opportunities since they could never learn “online”. What was surprising was that most people operated smartphones, yet they were unable to educate themselves to operate a computer and practice tests online. My IIT-K batchmate Bhola, who hails from a small town in Rajasthan, was trying to solve a similar problem. So we joined hands together and decided to create OnlineTyari – a mobile based education platform. Our vision is to enable more and more people with access to content in their language so they can prepare for government exams and improve their job prospects.
5. Where do you see OnlineTyari in 12 or 18 months from now?
Looking at the current growth and potential opportunity, we aim to have a 15 mn active user base, with all major regional languages available on our platform by the end of 2016. We are tech heavy platform so team strength will increase from current 60 to about 150 in the next one and half to two years. We are working on achieving $100mn turnover in the next two years.
6. What is the biggest need for your company at this point of time?
OnlineTyari is always looking to add passionate, motivated people who are looking to change the status quo.
7. Online education is not an easy nut to crack in this competitive landscape. Tell us more about your business model and share some insights from your journey of fundraising?
OnlineTyari is a transactional marketplace for educational content. We get the best books and material from publishers & coaching classes, put them on our platform and earn commission from sales.
Our fundraising concluded very quickly. Because of the obviousness of the problem we are solving, and the captive education market that we are catering to, a number of phenomenal angels and investment funds were interested to support OnlineTyari when we reached out to them. Infact, during the last few days of our fund–raise we had to politely refuse taking money from a few investors who were extremely keen to invest more!
8. What are your views about the growth of the Education Technology industry in India?
That education technology will transform Education is a given. There are a few very important reasons for this –
- Accessibility through mobiles – A mobile centric model for dissemination of education can enable access of education content even in the remotest parts of India – where run-down schools, improper road network and often absence of teachers / trainers hampers, complete absence of retail points to sell books , often hampers the ability to study and compete with students from across India. Even though OnlineTyari has both a website and app platform, a good 85% of the users access study materials through their mobile phones on OT.
- Acceptance of multi-lingual content – People are now less shy of learning in their native languages. Now , more than ever, people are asking for education content in their mother tongues. OnlineTyari today sees more than 59% of its traffic from people who read and study in languages other than English.
- Adaptive versus passive learning – Using big data analytics and programmed real time interaction abilities, online education platforms can understand the strengths and weaknesses of readers. This gives them an ability to personalize the learning experience as per the individuals’ capabilities in real time.
- Accuracy – incorrect answers / improper explanations can now be corrected through crowdsourcing of content corrections and seeking reviews form readers.
There are multiple problems to be addressed in the $40bn education delivery eco-system in India, and I believe few companies will emerge as market leaders that create innovative solutions to address the unique challenges in India.
9. Tell us about your team, who do you have supporting you? How did this start?
I had been a VC and an entrepreneur before starting OnlineTyari. I was also an advisor at NASSCOM Foundation for the National Digital Literacy Mission also called Disha – Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan. My co-founder Bhola Meena ran one of the first taxi hailing apps and was the Tech head at Microsoft’s India Development Center. We also have Nishit, Manjeet and Rajveer as part of the core team and they have led teams in major corporates. Nishit Mathur has extensive experience in strategy & finance, Manjeet has been an entrepreneur and a sales Head in fin-tech and telecom companies and Rajveer led sales at Ramco Systems prior to joining OnlineTyari. Most of us know each other since over a decade. Nishit, Bhola and I were together at IIT-Kanpur 15 years ago and have been in touch since, while Raj and Nishit studied at IIM Lucknow.
10. What/Who motivates you? Any thought leader or companies with innovation which you follow for success?
I appreciate Jack Ma (of Alibaba) for his grit and determination – he built a business ground-up for solving the ecommerce problem in China. There were few precedents he could follow and he also went through a pretty rough patch leading his company through various organic and inorganic expansions.
11. What are the biggest challenges of your edtech company?
It is always a tough task finding the right, motivated talent that is passionate about creating a disruptive solution to problems. OnlineTyari has always been a first mover in creating education technology solutions for people, and we have seen many companies copy our solutions and designs for their business. Consistently maintaining a lead in thought leadership and product intelligence is always a challenge that motivates us.
12. Who would you call your competitors? And how are you different?
Multiple companies are trying to solve the education challenge in their own respective manners – some are trying to create their own proprietary content for training, some are analytics companies that provide users information on their performance in tests, some are working as lead generation engines for established education companies and others are pursuing different business models. We respect their approach and honour their belief in their respective businesses.
In our belief there are no direct competitors that are looking to solve Edu-tech problem using the holistic approach OnlineTyari is taking. Our key differentiators form all other platforms in India remain being mobile-first, being multilingual skill development platform for test-takers.
Stay tuned for more such amazing edtech startups and their stories.
Image L-R – Vipin Agarwal & Bhola Meena.