Mohit Bansal, founder, iChamp, speaks about his entrepreneurial venture in the digital learning space in an interview with The Education Post. iChamp is an innovative digital platform that uses intuitive quiz-based learning to enhance Math and English skills for children in the 5-13 years age group. Excerpts of the interview:
What’s the market size of India’s digital learning space? Do you think more players need to come up with innovative ideas in the sector?
As per the “Online Education in India:2021” report by KPMG and Google, the online education space in India is growing at a CAGR of 52% and is expected to reach USD 2 billion in revenue by 2021. I personally believe that the above numbers are achievable. We are already seeing online education companies like BYJU’s clock USD 150 million in revenues last year and still growing. There are a number of players in the digital learning space, from early learning to test prep to higher education. What we need is not more players, or even new innovative ideas, but affordability.
Most of the digital learning products are priced out of the range of lower and middle class population. While online courses should ideally be priced lower than traditional channels, the same is not true in India. This I believe is the core reason hindering the Industry’s growth.
iChamp is a free to use app and will continue to be so for the next 6 months. During this time, we hope to aggressively grow our user base from current 8K to over 100k. iChamp covers Math, English, Hindi for classes 1 to 8
Could you take us through your entrepreneurial journey? How was the beginning?
My entrepreneurial journey started in 2005 with India’s first online tutoring portal www.learninghour.com. Though primarily aimed at the Indian market, the website actually gained limited traction domestically, but did very well in the Middle East and the North American market.
In 2007, Educomp Solutions (India’s largest education company of that time) bought a controlling stake in the venture and post that I was involved with various innovative education initiatives like launching a chain of branded tuition centers (LEAP) and launching India’s first VSAT enabled IITJEE/Medical course for students of tier 2&3 towns.
I have very closely observed how kids learn in India and why the learning outcomes are so poor compared to other countries
In 2014, I joined adda52.com as the COO. Adda52.com was India’s first real money poker website and was recently bought by Delta Corporation. From July 2016 to late 2017, I tried my hand at multiple different ventures, including www.indiagift.in, www.gozunk.com , however most of these ventures were shut down.
What was your inspiration behind choosing digital learning sector?
Education sector has been very close to my heart and I had always wanted to do something in the digital learning space since the day I turned an entrepreneur. Having tried my hands at various initiatives in this space, I believe that this is the future for India. Given the inherent problems in the Indian education system, the only hope for improvement is through online supplemental education.
I have very closely observed how kids learn in India and why the learning outcomes are so poor compared to other countries. While most education entrepreneurs believe that it’s due to lack of conceptual clarity in Indian students, I believe that it’s a result of lack of practice. The system is biased towards rote learning and hence kids do not spend time practicing and solving questions that will help improve their understanding of concepts.
In junior grades, most kids in private schools are aware of basic mathematical concepts, but its only limited to theoretical knowledge. Solving questions and practicing is the only way they can internalize the concept. This is what iChamp aims to achieve – make students practice hundreds and thousands of questions, while having fun and winning rewards.
What are your expansion plans for iChamp?
iChamp is a free to use app and will continue to be so for the next 6 months. During this time, we hope to aggressively grow our user base from current 8K to over 100k. iChamp covers Math, English, Hindi for classes 1 to 8, across various curriculum’s including some state boards. iChamp is adding hundreds of new questions across classes on a daily basis. New formats of asking questions, better rewards for kids, and new formats of challenges and tournaments are being rolled out of weekly basis at iChamp.
What’s your take on Modi government’s maiden budget in the second term, from an edupreneur’s perspective?
The budget highlight for the education sector is the proposed setting up of the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI). If the execution is right and this does not turn out to be like any other regulatory government body, then it has the potential to change the face of Higher education in India through shutting down of fake degree colleges/institutions and improving education standards across colleges. While the budget did propose a host of other initiatives as well in the education sector, most of them were routine proposals typically included in budgets every year. There is no path breaking initiative that stands out.