Delhi-based Priya Mann, 50, got her son enrolled for tuition classes during his summer holidays. Instead of lugging a bag to a tuition centre, Priya's son—a class eight student of a boarding school in Dehradun—could take lessons at home, thanks to Vedantu, an online tuition portal. Her son, she says, could take tuitions at his convenience and discuss his problems with the teacher 'n' number of times. It also helped him devote time to other activities as it saved him from the long commutes to tuition centres.
With its headquarters in Bengaluru, Vedantu is a live tutoring platform that enables personalised learning. Four IITian friends—Vamsi Krishna, Saurabh Saxena, Pulkit Jain and Anand Prakash—are the brains behind it. Their foray into educational entrepreneurship began in 2006 when they founded Lakshya in Patiala. In 2012, it was acquired by a listed company called MT Educare (Mahesh Tutorials).
Vedantu was launched in 2014 and within six months it received a Rs.33.31 crore funding from Accel Partners and Tiger Global Management. Its founders say personalised online tutoring will revolutionise the way teachers teach and students learn in India. “The name Vedantu comes from Sanskrit words veda [knowledge] and tantu [network], signifying a knowledge network,” says Krishna, CEO of Vedantu. “Through Vedantu, a student can tap into a teacher of his or her choice directly and the learning can happen anytime and anywhere.”
The company offers courses for CBSE and ICSE boards from class six to twelve and IIT foundation courses for class nine and ten students. It also has courses for IIT entrance and competitive exams. On an average, students are charged Rs.400 for a one-hour session; the monthly fee is between Rs.1,500 and Rs.2,500.
Most of Vedantu's teachers are IITians. They also have teachers and housewives who specialise in a subject. Though any teacher can register on the portal, only quality teachers make the cut. “We operate under a marketplace model, wherein students and parents can go through the entire list of teachers and select one and directly take a session. We have no intervention,” says Krishna. “Also, teachers are not on our rolls and whatever they earn they have to pay us a small commission.”
The enormous reach of the online model has prompted tuition specialist company Byju's to go digital. “We focus on conceptual learning through our videos that are available online, and the students can interact with teachers and have problem sharing sessions online. If a student wants further doubt clearing, he can visit our centre in Bengaluru over the weekends,” says Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO, Think and Learn Private Limited. Raveendran, who hails from a village near Kannur in Kerala, has been associated with the education field for more than a decade and was a Common Admission Test topper in 2003.
Byju's offers chapter-wise tests with feedback and analysis and has also introduced a mobile application. It has received around Rs.250 crore funding in the last 15 months. The company employs close to 450 people, mostly from education and technical background, to develop its content and technology.