Advitiya Sharma, one of the 12 co-founders of Housing.com, has announced the launch of a brand new company — Education start-up Genius, which will provide neighbourhood tutors with software solutions to make their teaching sessions much more effective.
Announcing the launch, Sharma said,
Right now you have schools, which have a great environment but where learning doesn’t happen well, and you have platforms like Coursera, which have good content but there’s no learning environment. We are taking the hybrid approach.
The hybrid approach involves offering tutors access to content and software that can be adapted to each child’s learning abilities. Interestingly, the company is not venturing into the money packed 10-12th segment — yet? — but has chosen to target students from kindergarten through to Class VIII. Genius is starting off even smaller and is launching with lesson plans in mathematics, science and English for Classes III-V.
The application seems to be more teacher-centric than student centric to me. After all, its been moulded as an aid to the teacher, will provide them with plans for their ward’s study and will be taking its cut from their pay-checks as well.
The concept is certainly intriguing and refreshingly different from what most of the contenders in the field have been doing. True, we have a plethora of applications for the students, however in a country where there are a whole bunch of people — often without any formal training in teaching beyond subject knowledge — struggling to map out a teaching plan, an app like Genius may come in very handy.
The startup might have to surmount several difficulties on its road to becoming the next big success. For one, the app will require the teachers to have a tablet, besides having them agree to the concept of paying Genius a cut in return for its software and content. To answer this, Sharma said that his company would begin with neighbourhood teachers in metro cities, where teachers were more likely to have a tablet and less likely to balk at the prospect of sharing their income.
Genius plans to reach 800 teachers and 8,000 students in five metros within the next six months.
Answering questions related to his venture’s scalability, Sharma said,
Scale won’t be a problem because when we acquire a teacher, we also acquire their real estate. This is a very asset-light model. We’ve also done affordability analysis and are targeting neighbourhoods where teachers are likely to have tablet devices.
Perhaps remembering his Housing days, which began with a total of 12 co-founders on the team and ended with all but 3 of them leaving — or made to leave — the company one by one by the board, he added
What I’ve learned from experience is that you cannot take a problem, and throw people at it, and expect to solve it. We are going to be a small team.
Sharma himself left Housing a couple of months ago and it was actually during a 10-days break then, that the idea for Genius struck him. The Genius team meanwhile, has 4 other members besides, who have chosen to remain unnamed because of the fact that they are still in the process of quitting their respective jobs.
Meanwhile, Sharma has chosen to bootstrap Genius, choosing to close his eyes to the spate of investments flowing into the education sector in India — at least for now. The niche grew exponentially this year with Byju’s, which offers programmes for Class VI to XII students as well as those appearing for engineering, medical and other competitive exams, raising $75 million in March — as opposed to the $70 million cumulatively raised by all education start-ups last year.
Well, we wish Advitiya best of luck for his new venture and hope that it will be able to consolidate the highly scattered private tuitions — tuitions, not coachings — market in India. Indeed, the market is so scattered that even Google was unable to find much reliable data on it — besides the fact that it is definitely a multi-billion sector. A report by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) also said that, one out of every four students in India take the aid of private tuition and in some states, more than three out of every four students opt for it.
Those are some serious numbers. So yes, there is quite a lot of potential for Advitiya’s new venture. Let’s hope that Genius, besides offering aid to both students and teachers, can also help bring consolidation to the market.