Vamsi Krishna – Co-Founder & CEO, Vedantu Innovations
Vedantu Innovations Pvt Ltd – www.vedantu.com – Live online tutoring
Tell us about your team briefly.
Vedantu is anEd-Tech venture I started with three of my IITian friends – Saurabh Saxena, Pulkit Jain and Anand Prakash. This is our second venture in the education space. At Vedantu, all of us oversee critical functions to ensure that we offer the best personalized LIVE online teaching/learning experience to teachers and students. Pulkit heads the product team who has custom built our WAVE technology platform. Saurabh is in charge of the academic division to maintain seamless yet stringent teacher on-boarding process, collaboration among teachers, development of quality content and overall academic rigour. Anand heads the people function ensuring that all of us are aligned to Vedantu’s vision. We are a team of 130+ highly passionate Vedans—thinkers, technologists, educationists who work closely and tirelessly every day to enhance access to quality education across the length and the breadth of the country.
What is the genesis of Vedantu? What is its USP?
All of us are teachers at heart having taught and mentored more than 10,000 students and trained more than 200 teachers in our first venture in education, Lakshya, an offline test-prep company. While Lakshya was highly successful we noticed that offline model may not be optimum for learning for everyone – given it is pivoted around generalization and does not offer adequate flexibility to both students and teachers. Constraints of time, distance and availability often restrict access to high quality teachers. We believe that technology can help in addressing these challenges. Vedantu was launched in November 2014 with a sole mission to create a world of learning which is ‘Personalized & Democratized’. Personalized in terms of teaching a student according to his/her need pace and level of learning. On Vedantu,a student can learn from a highly qualified teacher live, online, in 1-To- 1 format, as per his/her requirement without feeling the pressure to catch up with others in the class.A student can ask doubts without feeling shy.
Democratized in terms of offering ‘choice’ to students and teachers both. To attain the vision of democratization we have embraced true ‘marketplace of teachers’ model.The marketplace model empowers teachers to teach as per their convenience, set the cost of each session, create their own packages and offer individual attention to studentsso that they can perform to the best of their ability. Students can select teachers most suited to their requirements in terms of cost and timings, rate each live session and also have the freedom to change the teacher should they feel the need. Vedantu is a technology company at the core. What really makes us stand apart isthe revolutionary WAVE (Whiteboard, Audio and Video Environment) technology that makes learning online a pleasure. The platform enables very low bandwidth teaching sessions possible making it especially relevant in the Indian context.
The other key distinguishing factor is the pool of high quality teachers available on Vedantu. Teachers on Vedantu are alumni of top tier colleges, have cracked the toughest examinations, understand student psychology to the core and have undergone rigorous training.
Can you give us an overview on how does it work?
Vedantu optimises technology to bring together teachers and students on a single platform to enable LIVE learning between them.Currently we cater to students from grades 4th to 12th . We cater to students studying across CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE, IB boards curriculum. We also help students prepare for competitive exams such as NTSE, PSA, JEE Mains, IIT JEE Foundation etc.
Vedantu is the only platform in India to offer this on-demand doubt clearing facility, especially useful for students while they prepare for exams. Students have the flexibility to get their doubts cleared as late as midnight or just two hours before the exams. Students/parents can come on the platform, browse through a list of teachers based on their requirements, communicate with them (chat/talk) and learn live from them. The WAVE technology, custom-made for teaching sessions enables two-way audio-video communication. Whiteboard resembles a notebook shared between a teacher and a student. Both teachers and students can write on the Whiteboard. Teachers can upload content and images and also use other online resources to make teaching more effective. What’s more, every session is recorded for later use so that parents can be confident about the child’s progress.
Last but not the least, our technology allows session monitoring and calculates the student-teacher engagement level for each session. Undoubtedly, the engagement index and instant feedback from students after each session helps teachers in analysing and improving upon their instruction quality and better tailor their teaching methods to students’ needs.
Your first venture Lakshya grew leaps and bounds. How was the experience with Lakshya?
During our time as students, we always felt the need for quality education at an accessible distance. Often the option available was not the best possible and the best option was not always available. We also felt that education as a profession was not able to attract the best of the society – reasons could be varied – inclination, remuneration and accessibility. That’s how the idea originated to start something of our own in the education space. Hence we took the plunge, and started our first venture in education, Lakshya, right after graduating from IITs (we worked for 6 months in the corporate sector and then quit) in 2006.
Lakshya was into training students for competitive exams and we started as teachers. We continued teaching, and slowly and steadily brought in more like minded people back into teaching and started growing the company. In Lakshya we taught more than 10,000 students and in 6 years, we expanded to over 4 locations catering to over 5000 students annually. Having ourselves worked in the offline space, we realized the limitations of brick and mortal model. So in 2012 we sold Lakshya to MT Educare (Mahesh Tutorials) to pursue a bigger idea– the seed of Vedantu was planted while we were running Lakshya.
Vedantu, compared to Lakshya is still a child. How is the journey so far?
The journey till now has been extremely satisfying as we already see early signs of success in what we had set out to do—personalizing and democratizing learning. In just over a year, we have been able to connect students from 250+ cities with the best teachers across the length and the breadth of the country. On our platform, an IIT alumnus teacher based in Chandigarh is able to teach students in Guwahati and Shillong who don’t have access to high quality teachers in their region. We havehighly qualified working professionals and housewives on our platform who love to dedicate their free hours to teach, thereby, creating the best teaching – learning experience. We are really proud to have created this pool of ‘teachers by choice’. For the students, especially in remote parts of the country, access to top-notch teachers is not only enhancing their academic performance but opening up doors of possibilities that they never imagined. These are small changes, precursor of much bigger shift to come.
The other satisfying aspect is the change in mind-sets of parents that we have been able to achieve to a certain extent. They are gradually becoming more receptive towards the entire concept of personalized live online tutoring and realizing the array of benefits it offers in terms of saving ontravel expenses, time and ensuring safety of their children as they can study from the comfort of their homes.
Most of the parents aren’t comfortable with online teaching. How do you convince them?
In India, online tutoring is still a very novel concept. Given the high importance attached to academic achievements parents are less inclined to try something new. Parents and students in most parts of the society still believe in classroom teaching – the 1-to-many model. To change this mind-set, and to highlight the importance and effectiveness of live personalized teaching/learning was one of the major challenges.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of Vedantu’s WAVE technology and to offer a glimpse of high quality teaching on the platform we provide students a free trial in the beginning so that both students and parents can experience and understand how the platform works. The teachers on our platform believe in making learning a fun and interactive experience for the students. We have witnessed very high conversion rates after the trial sessions – this indicates that once students and the parents experience the platform, they are convinced about the exceptional academic value it provides.
This initial experience helps us gain the parents’ confidence and encourages students to start learning on the platform regularly. Our teachers not only focus on helping students academically to improve learning outcomes but become their mentors. Constant positive feedback that we receive from students& parents and the average teacher rating on our platform [between 4.5- 4.85] speaks for high level of engagement and satisfaction.
What is the attitude of schools towards online tutoring?
Vedantu’s live, personalized approach to teaching and the ability to create access to superior teachers without the constraints of location, time and distance has started appealing to schools as well. Recently, two schools in Bangalore have partnered with Vedantu to help students prepare for examinations. Expert teachers on Vedantu taught complex topics in science to students in 10th grade. Students connected with Vedantu teachers on individual computers in their school computer labs. Schools can engage with Vedantu on a long-term basis or for a specific requirement such as exam preparatory courses or competitive exam courses such as IIT Foundation, NTSE, IMO, AIPMT and more. We believe that by partnering with schools we can supplement their efforts to offer best teaching / learning experience to their students.
When do you think a student is ready for online learning?
We offer online tutoring from 6th onwards. However, students today are extremely techno-savvy and well-versed with exploring content online through laptops, mobile phones and tablets even at a much younger age. They are more inclined to absorbing information not necessarily only through text but with the help of a lot of audio, visual inputs for better understanding andto make the learning process interesting and fun. For this generation ‘touch’ functionality comes very naturally.However, each child is different and parents can evaluate their children’s interest and introduce the online medium under their supervision.
What makes Vedantu different from other online tutoring platforms?
Vedantu’s key differentiator is our true marketplace of teachers model which empowers both teachers and students with flexibility and choice. While accessing Vedantu, a student/parent can browse through a list of teachers based on their requirement, communicate with them (chat/talk), choose a teacher and learn LIVE online from him. No other platform in India offers this end to end integrated experience.
Secondly, most other companies in the online education space offer asynchronous or content driven learning. ‘Live connection’ with teachers anytime anywhere is what differentiates us. As mentioned earlier, this live connection is made possible by the sophisticated WAVE technology that connects students and teachers.
How do you see the online education evolving in the next 10 years?
According to the industry reports there are over 250M kids in K12 segment in India out of which 80M are studying in private schools and go for some or the other kind of supplementary tuitions. India’s tutoring market is slated to grow to $16B by 2017. Overall online education industry is set to grow to $40 billion by 2017.
We believe online tutoring is the way forward for students and parents looking for personal attention and choice, for optimal learning outcomes. Choice and convenience will drive this trend of online tutoring. In fact, we see blended learning gathering significance – where students benefit from best of both worlds–learning at schools to benefit from the perspectives of peer learning, personality development and learning online according to their specific requirements to hone in on the areas where they need individual attention and guidance.
What is your advice for young entrepreneurs?
My advice to the young entrepreneurs is that never get bogged down with obstacles and challenges. Every startup has faced failure in some way or the other in the beginning, but that is what will make you stronger and better. Remember the saying – ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ So strive for the sky and think out of the box, as there is immense scope and opportunity for you, especially in our country where even the government is supporting startups and their ambitions.
For more information visit www.vedantu.com
Vedantu Innovations Pvt. Ltd.,D. No. 1081, 3rd Floor,
Vistar Arcade, 14th Main Rd,Sector 3, HSR Layout