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Technology can bridge the gap in our broken #education system #India #edtech $ $ARCL $BPI $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 2:49 PM on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018
  • The last three years have witnessed a paradigm-shift when it comes to the K-12 education space in India all thanks to the advent of new technology.
  • India’s online education industry is expected to grow almost eight times to $1.96 billion by 2021,
  • Number of paid users estimated to rise as high as 9.6 million

Toppr currently has over 2 million registered students in classes 5th to 12th

This has also attracted high volume investment into India’s online education industry with millions of dollars being poured into personalised e-learning startups.

Can technology reform public education in India?

Many of these ed-tech startups are not just focused on building a successful business, but are trying to address a serious problem that has been fundamental to the progress of our nation. Power technology startups, such as Toppr, are trying to bridge the gaps in our broken public education system, as India is ranked 92 in education among 145 countries, according to Legatum Prosperity Index.

“Through the application of machine learning, it has opened up transformative possibilities to personalize learning in a country with over 315 million students, and a skewed student-teacher ratio. With the government’s aid, it can further bridge the gaps in the public education, and considerably improve its health,” said Zishaan Hayath co-founder and CEO of Mumbai based e-learning startup Toppr in an exclusive interaction with PCMag India.

E-learning is also effectively democratic in that it levels the plane for learners from diverse social backgrounds. “With deepening internet penetration, the apps will enable a massive student community to study at their own pace, and in their own unique styles,” Hayath added.

Toppr was founded in 2013 by two IIT alumni Zishaan Hayath and Hemanth Goteti. They are now pursuing an aggressive expansion, projecting exponential growth expecting to take revenue to over $500 million by 2021.

Challenging legacy institutions

With a reward of hundreds of million dollars, the ed-tech industry is facing a cut-throat competition. Gone are the days when a retired teacher or professor could just walk in, rent a classroom and create a coaching center, which used to be a very lucrative business.

According to Zishaan Hayath, “Taking the digital DNA to the Indian education sector has been an extremely rewarding journey for us. Our objective is to revolutionise after-school learning through a platform that analyses and monitors both students’ strengths and weaknesses.”

Startups such as Toppr have been putting a lot of thought into their product by identifying the right needs of modern-day students and aspiration of current middle-class parents, unlike the legacy after-school tuition centers and coaching classes.

“Our biggest challenge was establishing a strong product-market fit. We know that the most valuable currency in a student’s life is time – irrespective of background, the medium of instruction or location. They must, hence, commit their time to the right learning tool,” Zishaan explained the initial challenges Toppr faced. “Our challenge, then, was to build trust within the student community by establishing a strong product-market fit. We had to demonstrate that the app was worth their time,” he added.

However, established institutions based on the traditional classroom business model are aware of the threat startups are bringing and they have been on the verge of digital transition as well.

“The companies currently in the online education space are of two kinds. The first is trying to leverage the internet for their conventional business models. These companies typically talk about content distribution and teacher pedigree. They look at technology as a means to user acquisition and delivering content,” Zishaan explaining the current trend in ed-tech space.

“The second set of companies is applying technology to solve specific problems that conventional methods and resources cannot tackle. They think of technology as the enabler and the internet as a platform centered around solving students’ problems,” he added.

“Toppr is distinctly in the second set with exceptional technology pedigree applied to rethinking education. This is a complex, long-term process, so we are not too worried about the crowding of online-learning offerings,” says Zishaan Hayath.

Responding to the aspirations of tier 2 and tier 3 cities


In recent years top colleges and academic institutions across the country have been demanding higher cut-off marks. It was not so long ago that Delhi University demanded a full score of 100 percent as cut off, a result of higher competition and demand.

This trend has put significant pressure on the students and their parents, especially in tier 2 and tier 3 cities and towns where there is a significant lack of quality after-school coaching and tuition centers. And for them, apps such as Toppr offers much-needed help.

“The vision is to penetrate deeper into the heart of India and cater to the varying learning styles of all young learners in the near future,” said Zishaan Hayath.

“While anyone across the country can download the app, the company has dedicated regional counseling teams in over 15 cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kota, Jaipur, Nagpur, Vijayawada, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Indore, Chennai, Gurugram, Baroda, and Lucknow. We should reach another 15 in the coming months, and the impact is becoming increasingly visible,” Zishan added.

In recent months Toppr raised over $6.92 million dollars from investors such as AIF Partners, Helion Ventures, and FIL Capital Management, bringing the numbers to a total of $18.5 million.


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