CourseKart.com : Learn, Evaluate and Collaborate – Any Time, Any Where

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We all blame the education system but no one is trying for giving a solution. CourseKart is a new startup which is trying to curb this problem.
They are on a mission to take learning outside the classroom.   Most of the learning models are restricted to brick models today where   learning happens in classrooms with no productive, measurable usage of   technology and tools as a differentiator. Their believe is that there is   goodness in both worlds – the “brick” part helps drive discipline and   in-person interaction, while the “click” part allows students to learn   and discover at their own pace, anytime, anywhere.

CourseKart is an attempt to build a scalable, secure,   cloud-based platform that enables instructors to engage, interact and   collaborate with their students for a richer, shared learning   experience.

Coursekart was started in mid-2012 by Vishal Chopra and Janak Agarwal. Vishal looks after overall strategy, sales and business development  at CourseKart helping deliver world-class content for anytime, anywhere access while Janak handles technology, design and overall platform architecture to ensure an awesome learning experience at CourseKart.

Techaloo got an opportunity to have a chit chat with Vishal. Let’s have a glance over his thoughts.

Techaloo : When did you start your journey?
The journey began in mid-2012 as we discovered that across the education spectrum: K-12, Test-Prep or Higher Ed, technology is not being utilized in helping student learn better OR by instructors in improving their business models.

Techaloo : What made you motivated to join the entrepreneurship community?
You only live once! And if you don’t take the chances and risk it when you have an opportunity, you may regret it for the rest of your life. I had spent a fair bit of time in the corporate world – working with IBM’s top leadership on strategy and ops projects in New York City, developing next-gen system platforms for Sun Microsystems in California and dabbling in corporate M&A and venture funding at AMD and Crescendo Ventures. But the urge to pursue entrepreneurship and drive value creation where none existed – was very strong. Once my wife, Priyanka completed her MBA at Wharton, we decided to take the plunge.

Techaloo : Where are you based out of?
We are based out of the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s commercial and entrepreneurship capital. Being away from the startup hubs has its advantages – lower talent inflation, good infrastructure and work-life balance.

Techaloo : How did this Idea come to your mind?
The idea of CourseKart was born out of an unmet market need. During our initial diligence phase, we discovered that technology and its adoption was restricted to “passive” displays of information and content. In India – classroom teaching still dominated all stages of education – be it K-12, Test-Prep or University Ed later in life. Undoubtedly, face-to-face learning has its advantages, but we felt the time was ripe for adoption of Blended Learning models in India.

In Blended Learning, technology platforms are adopted to deliver learning content – be it videos, notes and tests to students in an online setting, while class time is utilized for doubt-resolution and more focused attention on individual strengths and weaknesses. Basically, it boiled down to a simple, yet powerful notion – can we help students get access to the best instruction anytime, anywhere at an affordable price. Students can continue with face-to-face learning (current-state) but can complement this effort with an easy, affordable and anytime accessible platform to strengthen their weak areas and score better in the main exams.

Techaloo : What was your vision/mission while starting CourseKart?
Vision of CourseKart is to provide (students) access to the best instruction in test-preparation anytime, anywhere and at an affordable price-point.

Techaloo : What hurdles did you face while starting?
Our greatest challenge has been in enabling our instructors to be digital ready. While there is increasing awareness and willingness to try out online learning models (as complements to traditional classroom approach), the “ramp-up” time to get them activated is still a challenge. Using a combination of proprietary automation tools and open-source platforms, we have been able to bring down the cost and time-required of creating world-class content by 80%!

Our greatest success – is in equipping our students with the learning tools they need “anytime, anywhere”. A few anecdotes from some of our students using CourseKart are provided below:

“Great work!!!!! it will help the students more leaving out of station.. thanks for this.. This will help us much for the CA exam.. it will help us to know our weakness in subjects and topics…” – CA-CPT Aspirant (2013)
“What I like most about the platform is the ability to learn at my own pace. No need to waste time when I can access tests, cheat-sheets and revisions lectures on my finger-tips anywhere I want!” – CLAT Aspirant (2014)
“Dear sir, it’s a wonderful concept & a help for us to study again by video lectures whatever is skipped at class.. thank u all… Superb testing platform and evaluation tool that will help us improve our weaknesses” – GATE Aspirant (2014)

 

Techaloo : Have you got any kind of funding? Or Are you planning for the same?
We are currently boot-strapped and not looking for funding. However, at a suitable time in the very near future – we will be reaching out to suitable Venture funds to help scale faster. We are receiving a lot of interest from venture funds and would like to time it right.

Techaloo : Explain a little more about CourseKart and its concept?
CourseKart is a EaaS-based platform (Education as a Service) that enables Content Owners to interact, engage and deliver media-rich content (videos, notes and tests) to their students “anytime, anywhere”. A student can access content from their select instructor on any device (iOS, Android and Web) and give tests, watch revision lecture videos, review test cheat-sheets to be better prepared for the big day.

We are currently focused on the Test-Preparation Segment – including JEE, AIEEE, CA, CLAT, CAT, GMAT, GRE and local-board prep.

What are the benefits for instructors?
Key benefits to our principal constituencies are summarized below:

  • Benefits to Students:– Learn at your own pace
    – Discover and improve your weaknesses – Benchmark against national peer-groups, improve your weakness “real-time”
    – Collaborate with peers, faculty for a richer, shared learning experience
  • Benefits to Instructors: 

    -Engage with your core audience outside the classroom
    -Brand to differentiate value proposition in a crowded marketplace
    -Grow your venture by monetizing new channels

What are the needs for technological help in education system? How CK is helping to fulfill those needs?
Today, as students are more interconnected than ever before, are getting on smart-phones faster than any other demographic, and more career focused, then why should education lag behind in delivering a “personalized” learning experience anytime, anywhere.

CourseKart believes firmly that India and its students are ready to embrace technology as part of their learning experience and get access to the best instruction anytime and anywhere to be best prepared for realizing their career goals. This is the dream we want to help realize as part of this journey.

Techaloo: What countries are you getting your users from?
Currently, we are focused on the Indian test-preparation market; however, the model has equal relevance and scale opportunities in other geographies in SE Asia, Latin America where infrastructure maturity, demographics, social emphasis on education and career preparation due demand-supply dynamics are key growth drivers.

Techaloo : Do you see Coursera and other online platform to be your competitors?
The Ed-Tech space is heating up globally and a lot of companies are working on very interesting models – some of the thought leaders are Knewton (Adaptive Learning), Benchprep (Test-Prep) and Coursera (MOOCs). Locally, we run into a lot of interesting work being done by startups in the Ed-tech space but there are no proven or established leaders yet.

Techaloo : What are the charges for your website platform?
Currently, we have a subscription-based model wherein we charge our clients (i.e. Content Owners) an annual subscription charge per student to provide access to the platform.

Techaloo : How is the response till now?
The response has been quite dramatic to say the least. Our first client sign-up was in the Commerce vertical (12-grade prep) in August 2012. Within one year, we have grown to 10,000 students across 50 cities of India across 4 test-prep verticals (GATE, CA, Law and Commerce local-boards).

Techaloo : Are you planning for any mobile app as well?
Our mobile and tablet apps for Android and iOS platforms are in beta testing and marked for year-end release.

Techaloo : What are your plans for next 3 years?
We are working on some very interesting technology features to take interaction and collaboration to the next-level, besides beefing up our analytics depth. Additionally, new engagement models to build a national footprint are coming up. So, stay tuned!

Techaloo : What do you think about techaloo.com?
Techaloo is a fantastic effort to engage different stakeholders (investors, students and entrepreneurs) in meeting its primary goal of fostering innovation and startups at the college level. We need many more such efforts to harness the energy and creative spirit of India’s youth. My congratulations to the Techaloo team. A job well done!

Meet the team :

 vishal chopra Prior to CourseKart, Vishal worked   with IBM, New York for over 4 years in their Internal Strategy Group advising   senior IBM leadership on important strategic, operational and organizational design   challenges. Vishal has also previously worked at Sun Microsystems   (California), AMD and Crescendo Ventures in a variety of product development,    and strategy roles.Vishal has an MBA with Distinction   (Finance & Strategic Management) from Wharton School (Pennsylvania), MS   (Computer Architecture) from Purdue University and BE (Electronics) from   Gujarat University.
 janak Prior to CourseKart, Janak Agarwal has worked with Microsoft   Corp’s SharePoint division (Seattle) overseeing product development and   defining overall testing methodologies. Janak has been a top performer within   the SharePoint Group over the past 3 years and has been actively engaged in   the design and development of social media applications and strategies. Janak   has an MS in Electrical Engineering (University of Southern California) and   BE in Electrical Engineering (NIT – Surat)
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Mohit Bansal(23) is B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India. He has interest in business and entrepreneurship and has published couple of research articles. He is also associated with various NGOs. He is with Techaloo when it was just in concept stage. The Techaloo site was not existing even then. Currently Mohit is working with Mu Sigma as a Business Analyst Profile.

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