New Delhi [India], November 23 (ANI/Mediawire): Ed-Tech companies have become a part of every household. The ed-tech segment in India boomed a few years before the pandemic and then as learning shifted completely to online due to the pandemic-led lockdowns. Post-Pandemic, an uncertain future, unsustainable models, and a general mistrust amongst parents regarding online classes have led to many ups and downs in the sector. Ujjwal Singh, President & CEO of Infinity Learn, one of the fastest-growing EdTech companies in India, backed by the Shri Chaitanya group, talks about the growth of Infinity Learn, it's future and the future of EdTech in India.
Infinity Learn is said to be one of the fastest-growing EdTech companies in India. How do you create the right balance between building 10X growth and sustainable business?
During my conversations with the Sri Chaitanya group, we discovered a shared thought process. We realized that the academic institutions in India always own a learner's success. In any education system, the learner's success is paramount. So EdTech was booming in India, but the results were not visible. So we thought, let us start an EdTech company that is learner-focussed and success-focussed, which tracks the learner's success, providing precisely what learners need. We are a sustainable, profitable growth-focused company. We may have about 4x growth, but it is a sustainable run. This March (2023), we intend to be a break-even company with just two years in existence. We will start new departments so that you may see fast growth. However, we value sustainable growth.
How does it feel to be a professionally managed start-up? How do you think that you can excel in a segment like that?
We might be the only professionally managed start-ups in the EdTech world. Our parent company, which has funded us, is a 36-year-old company. We are Intrepreneurs instead of an employee mindset who have come together because of a shared passion and belief system to impact the learning gaps for learners. So all team members work passionately for hours and days non-stop if required. We don't have an individualistic existence; it's a shared goal of why we exist.
So can this be the mantra of running a successful EdTech company?
You may say that: Our mission statement is "Powering Learner's Progress," and we exist here for this reason. Most of our team members either have children enrolled in schools or have parents who were or are educators; they essentially feel the need to contribute to the learner's success.
Is that how you attract the right talent?
Yes. When we go to colleges to recruit, we see a lot of interest and passion in knowing why and how we differ from other EdTech companies. They are always asking us how we can contribute. With this extraordinary enthusiasm, we have built a fantastic team. Our leadership is formed of inspiring people, as some of the best talents from all spheres have joined us. Seeing them, potential recruits are excited to join this impactful journey.
Unlike many other Ed-tech companies today, Infinity Learn has a strong foundation in an offline brick-and-mortar institution. Does that make a difference in the market?
So, one of the reasons to start Infinity Learn was to impart the teaching & learning pedagogy of Sri Chaitanya schools, primarily focused around Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to other cities, states and even countries where we don't have our schools. EdTech can fill these gaps, imparting learning with the ethos and the approach of Sri Chaitanya towards teaching pedagogy. We are trying to incorporate the learner focused approach of Sri Chaitanya into the ed-tech sector through Infinity Learn.
With the uncertainties that the ed-tech industry is facing today, layoffs and companies shutting etc., what, according to you, is the future of ed-tech in India? Do you suggest any course correction strategy for the industry?
Being frugal is the only way to survive if you are not heavily funded. When the markets opened up after the pandemic, we used to say acquire phygitally and deliver digitally. It means you can get a student through the combination of the physical-digital world, but EdTech provides the convenience of learning and taking classes from home without going out of physical infrastructure. Marketing costs are very optimized, so we are not spending more than we are earning now. Secondly, we have two types of students. The first is the access learner, who is studying in a local school or coaching center and uses us as extra access to revalidate his learning. Then the second type is the learner, who is 100% dependent on us. We want to fulfil our responsibilities to their success in learning. Finally, we believe that in EdTech, ed (as in education) is more important than tech. You need a fantastic platform for a great learning experience. But the ultimate goal here is to provide education to the learner. How we track the goals and progress of the learner is far more critical.
How do you see the future of EdTech in India?
EdTech was there before and will also sustain (with efficacy) after the pandemic. There will be ups and downs, but it is only going to get bigger in due course of time.
How is Infinity Learn uniquely positioned to face an uncertain future of the Indian Ed-tech industry?
We need to provide practical learning to learners and earn their trust, and this mantra will help us prepare to face uncertainties. Our focus is on the learner's growth and success. That's our way to sustainability.
However highly tech-oriented the education sector becomes; most parents still believe in offline classes over online classes. Do you think one is more valuable than the other in imparting knowledge?
See, online and offline can and will coexist. We are not competing with each other. Because children will continue to go to school, though during the pandemic, education moved to the online system, EdTech will always remain supplementary learning for learners. But excess of anything is wrong. When parents see their kids spending 6-8 hours in front of a laptop or phone, they will get worried. Then again, today, children go to school, come back, learn on a platform for a bit and then get on with their day. So, when parents see that their kids are getting access to a set of learning that is not available easily or in schools, they see value in it.
According to Infinity learn, what courses have done well in the last year? Are there any new courses that need to be introduced? Any course correction suggestions to be done for the future?
We teach up to grade 12 and primarily focus on JEE and NEET preparation. We have done very well on learner acquisition and results. In the first eight months since the last NEET and JEE exams, we have produced students with ranks below 10,000. And these are kids who have only studied with us. As for expansion plans, we plan to start CUET prep by the end of November. We will primarily focus on K12 and especially on test prep, which is 9th-12th, with JEE and NEET and now with tuition for younger grades and expanding science and Math in other segments like CUET in next few months.
Any concluding comments? Plans?
One of the lines we live by daily is "bachha seekha ki nahi?" This gives us the energy to thrive every day. As for the future, we want only three things. One, we want to prove that online education can produce rankers. Secondly, we want to be a profitable company. And finally, we want to be the largest company in the B2B2C segment.
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