For recordings and creating content for online classes on the app or YouTube, the edtech start-up now runs 90 digital studios in Jodhpur, Jaipur, Delhi, and Prayagraj
An upsurge for edtech has been led by the pandemic, but since then a slowdown in the sector has been created by the slackening demand for tech-led learning, as per YourStory.
As per YourStory, amid the layoffs and funding winter, Jodhpur-based bootstrapped start-up Utkarsh Classes and Edutech has remained profitable by innovating and using technology to deliver quality and affordable education to students in Tier II and Tier III cities.
Earlier this month, the e-learning platform confirmed plans to hire 500 employees, including educators, sales and customer service staff, and senior leadership executives.
Providing online and offline coaching for central and state government exams, competitive exams such as IIT-JEE, NEET, and CLAT, and school education for Classes 6 to 12 (CBSE and eight state boards), the edtech start-up Utkarsh Classes, which is founded by Dr Nirmal Gehlot and his brother Tarun Gehlot, has adopted the hybrid model.
“Our mission is to provide quality and affordable education to each and every household in the country. Through the Utkarsh app, millions of students are now preparing for their exams at a very affordable fee,” Nirmal says.
The edtech company, which has offices in Jodhpur, Jaipur, Delhi, and Prayagraj, also trains students for IAS, banking, defence services, state Public Service Commission, and teaching exams.
The Journey so far
As per YourStory, the edtech start-up, for government exam preparation, was incepted as an offline coaching institute in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in 2002. To provide affordable education to students unable to pay expensive tuition fees, the founders rented two rooms. The inspiration, they say, was Nirmal’s mother, Bhanwari Gehlot, who envisioned educating girls in her neighbourhood and set up the first free coaching class in Jodhpur.
Nirmal, Co-Founder and CEO of the the edtech start-up, did his schooling at Adarsh Vidya Mandir and MA in Hindi literature from Jai Narain Vyas University (JNVU), Jodhpur. With a total experience of about 20 years in teaching, today, he takes pride in having taken his company from two rooms to teaching more than 2.5 crore students across India.
“India has lakhs of students seeking government jobs and there’s an increase in applicants year on year. But, the price of coaching centres can be high. We want to bring in a revolution in the affordable teaching sector and aim to provide the best coaching to lakhs of aspirants aiming to crack different competitive examinations in the country,” he says.
To set up the company, Nirmal and Tarun, Co-founder and CFO borrowed a small amount from their father, a government teacher.
Nirmal says, “Ever since the year 2002 we started introducing new courses and started expanding our students’ userbase and hiring talents who could come on-board and teach our students. When there was digital boom in the year 2017, it was in favour to our business and we decided to launch move online. The YouTube channels were launched in 2017.”
Currently, the edtech start-up, on YouTube, has above 13 million subscribers.
The Utkarsh Learning App was launched because of the increasing use of mobile devices and internet in Tier II and Tier III cities in 2018.
For recordings and creating content for online classes on the app or YouTube, the edtech start-up now runs 90 digital studios in Jodhpur, Jaipur, Delhi, and Prayagraj.
Offline centres for class programmes are presently operating in Jodhpur and Jaipur. Sixty digital classrooms (digitally enabled where offline classes are held) offer live teaching sessions that are streamed directly on the Utkarsh app.
Across iOS and Android, the app has nine million downloads.
For Rajasthan, UP, MP, Bihar, Haryana, it currently provides 700 online learning courses across nine categories, including central government test and state government test prep and for defence, agriculture, nursing, NEET and IIT-JEE, CLAT, judiciary exams, and school courses.
Business model and early traction
As per YourStory, the edtech start-up monetises through sale of courses to students through its online platform and offline centres.
The average price for online courses is INR 2,500 while the course fee for offline courses ranges between INR 12,000 and INR 25,000.
Since 2018, the edtech start-up claims to have witnessed massive growth from 6,000 to 1.5 million paid students enrolling for online coaching. It has taught more than 31,000 students (In FY22, offline students were more than 27,000 and FY 21 had ~4,600 offline students) in offline classroom programmes in the last two financial years.
Across its online and offline platforms, learning app, and YouTube channel, the edtech start-up currently has over1,200 employees, including 170 educators across categories, and more than 20 million students since inception.
Revenue and the way ahead
As per YourStory, the edtech start-up’s revenue from operations increased 178 per cent to Rs 129 crore in FY21 from Rs 46 crore in FY20. In FY21, the company’s net profit increased 77 percent to INR 32 crore from INR 18 crore in FY20. In 2022, the company claims to have clocked a turnover ofINR 150 crore, while EBITDA stood at INR 59 crore.
In the next six months, the bootstrapped start-up plans to open 100 offline centres. The company is also exploring opportunities to list third-party content creators on its mobile application.
Industry reports suggest that the aggregate revenue of Indian edtech start-ups has doubled since FY 2018 and this rate is expected to only multiply. Coupled with an exponential rise in the number of paid edtech users (projected by KPMG to reach 37 million by 2025), the Indian edtech industry still presents huge opportunities.
BYJU’S, Unacademy, Allen Career Institute, Physics Wallah, and Upgrad Jeet are some of the edtech start-up’s direct competitors.
“We’re one of the players working towards affordable coaching,” added Nirmal.
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