“Technology innovation @ Edureka will change the entire learning experience”, says Lovleen Bhatia, Co-founder, Edureka

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In conversation with Lovleen Bhatia & Kapil Tyagi, Co-founders, Edureka

What was the original source of inspiration for you to start Edureka? (Was it based on a personal experience or did you simply see it as an existing gap in the market?)

Founders of EdurekaIt was a mix of both. It was definitely personal, as we both went to IITs and weren’t very happy with the way education system works in India. It’s mostly driven by a degree or a certificate and no one really cares about learning. There are a lot of people who must have thought about it, so we started exploring this idea in-depth. Then fortunately, we came across this opportunity which could be a sustainable business and jumped right into it.

Thus, it comes both from a personal experience and from the time we were finishing our degrees at IIT when we realized that the application and learning part was more important than just passing the exam. That was the thought behind starting Edureka and is the vision of the company as well.

If you look at the courses we offer, you will find that they all stress on primarily getting skilled on the subjects which are on offer rather than just obtaining a degree or certificate at the end of it.

Could you give us a business overview in terms of the service, product, revenue and performance?

Sure, the business works like this- we are a curated marketplace of online courses where, from a consumer’s point of view, you can come to Edureka, look for a skill which you are interested in learning and enroll for a course. And from a seller’s or provider’s point of view, you can become an instructor @ Edureka if you are an industry practitioner with solid experience in the technology or the skill which you plan to teach.

Edureka provides a platform to connect people who are passionate about delivering knowledge in specific skill sets and those who are in a quest to gain the same. The way these courses work is that unlike a video based pre-recorded course, we provide interactive online classes. This means that you can interact with the instructor and get your doubts cleared immediately. So basically the classes are live, interactive, with multiple people sitting in a class from across the world and a subject matter expert who is an instructor.

These are online courses offered in a setting similar to a physical classroom with a mixed demography. There are professionals having 3-20 years of experience with more than 60% of them coming from overseas and approximately 40% coming from India. Geographically, we have a stronghold in US, followed by UK, Singapore, and Australia. We also get a lot of audience from Africa.

We offer more than 40+ courses for Technology and Business professionals.  Right now our focus is on adding courses as quickly as possible with an aim to have 100+ courses by the end of this year.

How different is Edureka’s model from others in the same segment? What advantages does Edureka have over its competitors?

The major advantage for any Edureka customer is the fact that he/she learns from industry practitioners and not from trainers or professors, which is very important from a skills perspective. Second advantage is that unlike a video course offered by sites such as Udemy or Udacity, at Edureka you get to attend online live classes. The third and one very valuable advantage is that we offer 24*7 technical support, which means that any time you are stuck with something, help is always around. Let’s take an example, you are doing an app development course and you get stuck while developing the app around 2’o clock at night. So instead of waiting till the morning for help, you just need to login a support ticket and there will be someone available to help you. This unique support angle which was bought in by us to this industry didn’t exist before Edureka.

Moreover, the span of the course and the way the content is structured also works to our advantage; we don’t offer courses based on the workshop model where you go attend a three-day workshop and post that you are on your own. Everyone has a unique learning style and some people grab concepts after they have practically done them; hence our courses are spread over 3-4 weeks’ time period.

Just to give you some data to corroborate all these advantage, more than 30% of our customers have come back and bought their second and third courses. There have been thousands of people who have taken more than four courses with us. In the past year, we have seen a surge in students joining our programs which can be attributed to the increase in awareness about online learning.

Approximately 50% of our revenue comes from references and non-paid channels. We also did a net-promoter survey which showed us that 62% of the people surveyed would recommend Edureka to others, giving us a perfect score of 10. We did a little benchmark study and found that Apple has a net promoter score of 72% and Sony has a score of 30%, anything above 30% is actually good- so we are happy with the way our products are perceived by the customers. This is what drives us as entrepreneurs- our idea which has taken shape and customers who absolutely love our product.Edureka Employees with Kapil TyagiWhat is the best marketing move that you’ve initiated which sets you apart from your competitors?

When we started; we used Facebook as a marketing channel. At that point in time, no one had cracked social media as sales conversion channels but we were able to leverage the power of social media efficiently. We reached a customer base in other countries using Facebook. The second thing that worked very well for us was YouTube- our channel is very popular.

We also use customers as our brand ambassadors which in turn lends an air of credibility and honesty to all our marketing efforts.  Our approach to marketing was very different from other companies in the education sector, as it’s very much driven by Data Analytics and this helped us get good results from various social media sites.  This has helped us crack the B2C model without spending extra on marketing.

How do you manage talent at Edureka? Can you share some recruiting and retaining strategies that have worked well for you?

Our CULTURE differentiates us from others. We believe in the concept of ownership. A fresher who joins us is taught to own up projects from Day one as opposed to just clocking in hours and finishing tasks outlined by others.

We also like taking risks, in fact all of us here survive on it. However, the management team is always there to lend a helping hand and encourage employees to come up with innovative ideas and diverse opinions. This has helped many professionals with just two years of experience to handle large projects and excel in them.

Just to give you an example of the exemplary commitment shown by our employees- when we shifted from Noida to Bangalore, our team moved with us and they are still with us. We were just a struggling start-up with a great idea, not some Google or Microsoft. The mere fact that these people moved with us, when they could have joined any big company speaks volumes about the kind of culture we have built at Edureka.

We never stop people from leaving us; in fact we encourage them to explore the world outside. I think this has worked for us as many of those who had left, came back.

It’s not the hiring process which we have cracked, but how to give employees ownership, how to make them more useful and make them feel a part of the bigger picture. A lot of ideas we have implemented, have come from our employees. Celebration Time - EdurekaWhat are some of the key milestones for the next 6-12 months that need to be achieved?

Yes, we would not go in to the revenue milestones as they are very common- we would like to grow 400%, in fact we were rated by Deloitte as the #1 fastest growing company in Deloitte Tech Fast 50 India 2014 and also ranked #10 in Deloitte Asia Pacific Tech Fast 500 2014 List.

We would like to improve the user experience by adding new features which will make this style of online leaning much more beneficial and useful for learners.  The product side is the focus right now and I think in the next year or so there would be amazing features on offer which would make the overall engagement with users much better than today. The vision is to show people that online learning will replace offline learning.

Along with this we are also getting more courses, adding them at a fast pace but not compromising on the quality of these courses.

What would be your piece of advice for soon to be startup founders entering this space in India?

Yes, education is a different ball game altogether. The most important thing is to be patient in order to be successful as nothing works in a single day. It’s important to learn from the feedback you receive for the product. You should also be very clear about the market you are targeting and if others can come in and replicate it. The founders should gel with each other, should trust each other and have a similar vision for the company.

Rapid Fire with Lovleen-

  • Tell us a bit more about your background prior to founding Edureka?

Lovleen BhatiaI come from Bareilly (UP) where I grew up in a very middle class household. I joined IIT-BHU (Banaras Hindu University) to pursue my B.Tech in Electrical Engineering. I worked for Texas instruments, Infosys and then Edureka happened. In the last two years, I have learnt more than I have learnt in the thirty years prior to founding Edureka.

  • What is most rewarding about running your own enterprise?

Happy customers and when people say that this particular course experience has changed their life. There are so many people who say this and that’s the driving force.

  •  What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made during this startup journey?

We have made countless mistakes as when we started none of us had an idea about how online businesses work. We didn’t come from a typical MBA background, so there were numerous things we weren’t aware of. But we learnt everything first hand, so there is nothing I regret. But there are so many things we could have done better if there was someone like me guiding me back then.

  • What are you most excited about at the moment?

The most exciting thing right now is the kind of response we are getting. We started with a small niche set of courses and people have lapped them up wonderfully. We have numerous takers for any new course launched. The kind of innovation happening on the Tech side right now, which people would see in the next 6-8 months, excites me very much. I wish we could do that in I month, but the product takes times to build. Anyway I am really looking forward to launching this as it would change the complete learning experience.

Rapid Fire with Kapil:

  • Tell us a bit more about your background prior to founding Edureka?

Kapil Tyagi_EdurekaSo, similar to Lovleen, I belong to a small place called Hapur in UP. But I left my hometown to pursue an undergrad degree at IIT Bombay. I met Lovleen when I joined Infosys, and that was the beginning of our friendship. I started another company, called SKAN DbyDX Software Pvt. Ltd in Noida in 2005 which was acquired by a public company. Post which me and Lovleen started Edureka.

  • What is most rewarding about running your own enterprise?

The most important indicator of the passion for running your own enterprise is the fact that every Sunday evening, I get very excited about going to work on Monday. Sunday is full of ideas and I just wait for Monday to implement those.

  • What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made during this startup journey?

My answer would be similar to Lovleen’s, had we not made those mistakes we wouldn’t have learnt anything. I would say mistakes are important, as it helps in the learning process. We have learnt something valuable from all the mistakes and have now come to the next stage.

  • What are you most excited about at the moment?

I would say the potential of the company, potential of where we can reach- we have just done 1% of what we can do. We can revolutionize the way learning happens and we can bring lot of good instructors online and can reach an audience anywhere in the world.

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Puneet Dhillon

I am Puneet, a social media junkie, marketer, bookworm, yoga enthusiast and a perpetual optimist. Apart from this, I also handle the content and communications @ iimjobs and hirist. Drop me a line @ puneet@iimjobs.com. I like new friends.