EduCat: A one stop destination for medical aspirants

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With the youth of today becoming increasingly aware and exposed to a number of things through manifold mediums, they are caught in the midst of various choices and avenues coupled with an influx of growing global education opportunities. However, when there is a plethora of choices but limited resources for realizing your dreams, the need for proper guidance and counseling to analyze and study these choices becomes extremely important.

This is where EduCat- the education catalyst, founded by Koelee Educational Facilitation Centre steps in.

EduCat is a one-stop destination for aspiring medical students aiming to pursue their education overseas and ensuring that the goals and aspirations of the student are completely met. As in chemical reactions wherein, a catalyst causes or accelerates the chemical reaction causing a very fast metamorphosis.

Techaloo got an opportunity to have a chit-chat with Ms. Nilufer Jain, Co-Foudner @EduCat. Let see what she wants to share with us.

Techaloo: What was your vision/mission while starting EduCat?
Nilufer: The idea for EduCat emerged while on a business trip to Ukraine. Seeing the training methodology, the advanced infrastructure along with the global exposure being presented to the international students at one of the renowned medical universities there, we realized how studying abroad for medical presented vast opportunities to our aspirants back in India.

Once we carried out market research and analyzed the incoherent gap, we started out. Our vision has been quite simple – we aim to enable every medical aspirant looking at studying abroad, to acquire quality and affordable education by providing a smooth and seamless admission journey.

Techaloo: What hurdles did you face while starting?
Nilufer: It is a known fact that every entrepreneurial journey is a roller coaster ride. Being part of a mainstream vertical of the education industry, the overseas education market while being dynamic presented a set of challenges for us since we deal in a specific domain i.e. is medical.

First of all, the medical education consultancy market being a highly unorganized sector, created a plethora of issues while performing grass root level marketing. In recent years, a few players had taken advantage of the market vulnerability by misleading people with the way they presented information about medical universities abroad, their fee structures, recognition status and the employment opportunities available. In the process a lot of people got duped financially or landed up in universities of mediocre standards, thus jeopardizing careers of many. Due to this, the acceptance level of exploring medical education opportunities declined.

Secondly, most people including parents and students have little or no knowledge about the standards of medical education abroad. The myths exacerbated by a few become a popular metric system against which options are gauged. Thus, counseling and educating such an audience is not only costly but also extends the latency period of conversions.

Techaloo: How difficult or easy it was to start EduCat after having 4 yrs. of experience in the industry?
Nilufer: Having years of experience in market research and business development, starting out was slightly comfortable. It is extremely pivotal for an entrepreneur to get the basics right within the right span of time- like understanding the market you want to cater to, identifying the gap, reading consumer behavior, analyzing the problem you are solving, so on and so forth. And with my background, we covered this part in a short period of time, which provided us more time to concentrate on evolving our processes.

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Techaloo: Tell us something about the services offered by EduCat?
Nilufer: EduCat – the education catalyst, is a one stop destination, for all medical aspirants who wish to pursue education overseas. We make the admission process easier for the students by providing a comprehensive three-tiered package that covers all the formalities for studying abroad right from visa support, to admission in the university as well as post arrival support to the student when he/she reaches the destination. The USP of our services is the extensive post arrival support that we provide to our students once the student is well settled in the university. Unlike any other consultant, we provide post arrival services for the entire study period to enable the student to have a comfortable study odyssey.

Techaloo: Why should someone look towards foreign universities while we have so many options available in India itself?
Nilufer: Contrary to the popular believe of India being a hub for medical education, there is a huge discrepancy in the demand and supply of medical education here. We have close to 63,000 seats in total (including government and private) where as about 6.7 to 7 lakh students each year take the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT).

Thus, this fact clearly explains why India faces a shortage of doctors each year.

Adding to the woes are factors such as extremely high capitation fees that the private colleges charge.

So if a student has not been able to secure a rank in the government college (which are about 24,900 seats) and cannot afford to pay the capitation fees, does that mean he is rendered incapable of studying medicine? No.

The option is to identify good medical colleges abroad and seek admissions in the ones most suited for the student. Competitive landscape in education is healthy however it should not kill the dreams of many capable students and leave them inept, when they can be major contributing factors to the healthcare industry in the coming few years.

Techaloo: Currently you have associations with the universities in UAE, Ukraine, China, Guyana and Philippines. Do you have any plans to expand the reach?
Nilufer: For any business to be sustainable it is highly important to have various options to cater to the market as well as provide manifold products to the consumers. Likewise, we do look at expanding our reach to more markets in the coming 2 years especially in markets like Europe and the US that are highly regulated and restricted for international medical aspirants.

Techaloo: Will you be offering courses across other streams as well?
Nilufer: At present we wish to stick to our niche segment and wish to grow in the medical sector itself. Since there aren’t any dominant players in the market, we aim on capitalizing this and growing further the opportunities that can be created in it.

Techaloo: What is your pricing model?
Nilufer: Our pricing model is based on a value add model than a cost based model. We charge our customers for the tailor made services we provide for all their needs in the pre admission and post admission journey. However, knowing that India is a price sensitive market, we have kept our prices at minimum yet retain quality in the service provided to encourage customer adoption and increase referral marketing mechanism for us.

Techaloo: There are cases of frauds for abroad Education providers. How are you maintaining the trust?
Nilufer: Gaining credibility and trust do seem like a mammoth task to many, however our core belief is – if the approach is professional and where in the customers needs are understood extensively, then delivering services become easier and thus gaining trust becomes a by product of the function. Indeed, it has been tough given that the treachery conducted by a few has shaken the market’s faith, however our customer centric approach has made it possible for us to gain credibility fast not only with customers and universities, but also with associates who want to partner with us.

Techaloo: How is the response till now?
Nilufer: We have received significantly good response till now given that the overseas market for medical education is its early adoption/ introduction stage of the product life cycle, with over the last 6 months more than 25% students (market average being 15%) showing interest in availing this opportunity for the academic session 2015-2016.

Techaloo: Being a lady, how difficult was it to start the venture?
Nilufer: Very, from the marketing and sales perspective. Since my target market belongs to the tier 2 and tier 3 cities, to be taken seriously for what I was selling, was a daunting task especially to the older generation. Disseminating information and educating someone who for many years has consumed piles of fabricated information on medical education by his peers or callous consultants, and that too from a lady, made it very challenging for me. Operating in a male dominated industry is not easy, as parents would prefer ‘closing the deal’ with only a sales man and not a woman.

Techaloo: What was the response from your family while starting?
Nilufer: Luckily my family has been extremely supportive in this endeavor of mine. However, there are times when the long working hours or traveling alone scares my mum. But then it’s all part of the journey!

Techaloo: What are your plans for next 3 years?
Nilufer: For the next 3years we plan to have A) Pan India presence by formulating a cohesive franchisee model to propagate regional presence B) Get more universities in our portfolio to appeal to a wider market C) Evolve the counseling methodology to the next level by further integrating technology in our current flow thereby fastening and automating a lot of processes requiring physical manpower.

Techaloo: What message do you want to give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Nilufer: Being in the entrepreneurial network, I got a chance to connect and network with many others who are in different phases of their journey and whose support has benefitted me invariably. But, the most important thing I have learned so far is not to give up, which no one told me. There are times when being resilient is extremely formidable but no matter what the situation, one should hold on till the time they know their product/ service will solve a problem in the market and they are confident of themselves of delivering the impact.

Techaloo: What do you think about techaloo.com?
Nilufer: I think what techaloo is doing is not only astounding but also much needed for entrepreneurs like myself to not only learn about the innovations, ideations which are mostly these days emerging at college level but also to enable oneself to reach out to many others by showcasing themselves on such platforms.

Techaloo: Share some info about founders.
Nilufer: With a background in Business management and being part of a global student organization, I have always being associated with marketing and business development. After completing my graduation, I went on to work straight with an early stage research start up thus equipping me with enough entrepreneurial exposure and training me to start my own. The years spend on building the project base for my company, not only helped me to understand various organization functions but also upgraded my skills and enhanced my marketing skills.

Meet the founder

Ms.Nilufer Jain-(Co-Founder- Educat)Ms. Nilufer Jain – With a background in Business management and being part of a global student organization, Nilufer has always being associated with marketing and business development. After completing her graduation, she went on to work straight with an early stage research start up thus equipping her with enough entrepreneurial exposure and training her to start my own. The years spend on building the project base for her company, not only helped her to understand various organization functions but also upgraded her skills and enhanced her marketing skills.

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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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