In an exclusive interaction with BW, Minal Anand, Founder and CEO of GuruQ, talks about her journey to establish the digital tutoring platform born out of a desire to meet each child’s individual needs – their learning styles and IQ. She also shares that the platform connects students to certified tutors for individual or group lessons offline and vice versa at affordable prices and personalized packages. Extracts:
Do you elaborate on the creation and journey of âGuruQâ and the need for such a platform?
As I pursued a business administration degree abroad, I realized that there was such a contrast between the quality of education offered there and that offered in India. In the United States, there was a predominant use of the digital platform and innovative teaching methodologies. However, it was disheartening to find that educators in India were not well equipped or familiar with the latest teaching methods. Education in India is still rigid, scholarly and will be of no use to students entering their professional life in the near future. Technology is rapidly transforming jobs and Indian students will lose out because they are not trained to be tech-savvy or to think outside the classroom. If the relevant skills are not imparted to them through education, how will they be able to apply them in their careers?
A platform like GuruQ seeks to remedy flaws in the education system by allowing students to connect with qualified, certified and approved tutors who can make the whole learning process healthy and interesting by focusing on strengths, each student’s weaknesses and IQ. Students gain a solid understanding of the topics where every doubt is raised and every concept is explained in detail. A technology-driven education that goes beyond the textbook will enable our students to compete globally and be successful.
What kind of acceptance or interest have you seen so far?
Well, the response has been extremely promising. We have managed to reach over 14,000+ students who testify that GuruQ has helped raise the standard of their education. Students are eagerly awaiting their lessons, have understood their study subjects better and are no longer afraid of exams. Parents are relieved that their children’s education is in good hands and that too, at affordable prices. For the tutors who trusted us by registering on our platform, it has been a rewarding experience as it has broadened their knowledge, honed their skills and also proved to be lucrative.
What services do you offer? What are its main differentiators?
We offer classes for kindergarten to grade 12 students for CBSE and CISCE boards via online and offline mode. While tuition fees via online mode are offered at PAN India, offline mode is currently offered to students in Delhi NCR area only, although rapid expansion is taking place in 2020. We offer courses for all subjects of the arts, human sciences and scientific fields. Foreign language courses such as French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Italian, Russian as well as courses for entrance exams such as SSC, Medical Entrance and Engineering Entrance.
What sets us apart from the competition is the “safe and quality learning environment” that we guarantee to our students after subjecting the tutors to a rigorous five-step verification process, as well as the fact that we offer extremely affordable courses that start at just Rs. 200 / – per hour. In addition to that, we offer lessons for all subjects from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and even beyond. However, our biggest USP would be the fact that we provide tutors for students based on demographics and neighborhood.
How many students and tutors are currently enrolled?
Currently, we have over 14,000 students and over 17,000 tutors and that number continues to grow every day. With immediate expansion plans, we are optimistic that this number will triple over the next year.
Each startup faces different types of challenges, what were the challenges you encountered and how did you overcome them?
We believe challenges are opportunities to excel in disguise. That said, yes, initially the students weren’t sure how to use the highly interactive and user-friendly dashboard just because they didn’t have a solid understanding of the technology, but with time and guidance from our team, they were able to figure out how to do it. . As of this writing, we have parents and students who will call our helpline and request class reservation by call instead of using the dashboard to book, which shows how much most are opposed to the change. and cling to the familiar even though it can be. outmoded. Moreover, while much noise is made about the use of AI, the reality on the ground is that the masses are still ill-equipped to use it.
How do you plan to expand âGuruQâ in the future? What new products, offerings and new markets do you plan to target?
2020 is shaping up to be exciting and promising as we plan to expand our geographic reach to most Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in North India and then to cities in South India by 2021. We want to reach the students of these cities because they too need quality tutors. Our expansion will, of course, be gradual and systematic after in-depth market research, because mentalities differ from one city to another. We have decided to respond to regional languages ââwhile constantly improving our technology. We hope to be in at least 8-10 cities by the end of 2020. Our mobile app will launch overnight and this will make the whole process of finding the âright tutorâ even more convenient. , easy and fast.
Can you share a success story or how have you impacted so far?
Well, initially people were skeptical of going online and hiring a tutor as they relied heavily on word of mouth or referrals when it came to tutors. But over time, they realized how much the quality was compromised in the process. Our team of experts went above and beyond to convey the need and importance of quality education and succeeded in gaining the âtrustâ of students. So while the concept of learning in front of a computer screen initially seemed “different”, students gradually began to appreciate the highly personalized attention they received with worksheets and mock quizzes formulated for them. Once they reaped the benefits of having an infinite pool of tutors and the ability to select them only after comparing reviews and ratings, the whole process became more appealing to parents and students. Our offline model has been successful from the start, as connecting students with licensed and knowledgeable tutors in their neighborhood has saved time and money for both tutors and students.
Since our inception we have experienced phenomenal growth, have been successful in raising pre-Series A funding and are in talks for another round of funding very soon as our investors were able to assess the results we are delivering and therefore made trust us.
Please suggest on your initial investment?
We have been self-funded since 2016, then we received pre-series A funding of Rs 2.5 crore from investors. We have used the money raised mainly for marketing, growth and expansion and of course technical innovation as well as recruiting the best talent.
What figures do you propose for the generation of collective wealth with âGuruQâ so far?
We not only achieved the goals set, but we consistently exceeded them. We are increasing our income by 30-40% month to month. In addition, 90% of students who book classes once always book again.
As Founder, what goals have you decided for this year and the next 3 to 5 years?
As I already mentioned before, a mobile application will be launched at the end of December or the beginning of January to reach a greater number of users. We are looking to develop in terms of functionalities, offers and of course geographically. We want to expand to Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in North India by 2020 and South India by 2021. This would give our âofflineâ mode of teaching a PAN India presence, as Online courses are already available nationwide. We are delighted to reach cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Gujarat, Indore, Bhopal and Kolkata in addition to other cities. This would create tremendous employment opportunities for the local population. In addition, we are optimistic about venturing into the training of business professionals. We will achieve this by relying on our high-level tutors to train company employees in the art of communication. So, yes, the next 3-5 years are shaping up to be good for a dramatic expansion and improvement of GuruQ.