The only way to meet e-learning demand is to empower existing teachers
The biggest utilisation that we have done from the fund we have received is to rely the offering that we have in hand. We've invested a lot in the tech behind TeachMint. We are one of the few companies in India that have built our very own video infrastructure
We're present in 1100 towns and cities. In terms of coverage, geographical reach, we are present everywhere. We are in the country where every student that can afford supplementary education, go for private tuitions, coaching and so on because that's the way our education system works
Bengaluru based edtech startup, TeachMint, is the newest member in the e-learning market. The company, which stands at a value of approximately $4 million, is heavily investing in technological upgradation. Mihir Gupta, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, TeachMint, tells Bizz Buzz what sets them apart from their competitors in India and what future they see for the educational sector in 2021
What prompted you to launch TeachMint, amidst the global pandemic?
We are a team of four founders and we've always wanted to set up a startup. The reason why we focused on edtech is because one of the co-founders, Payoj, comes from an education background. So, a lot of problem statements that we could gather were through his experience in the field. When the pandemic started, we tried to make way through multiple disconnected solutions like creating WhatsApp groups, organising Zoom, uploading YouTube videos or even creating Google Forms for feedback from students. But, there hasn't been any 'productisation' for online teaching in the industry so far.
We integrated different elements and brought in a quick simple solution that we gave to a few teachers. And within a week, we realised that hundreds of students and teachers were utilising our app. So, we knew we were in the right direction and kept building on our concept.
In the second quarter, your company has received seed funding from three different investors. How do you plan to utilise these funds?
We launched the product in May. So, we've received two rounds of funding so far. The first round came in around June. With the other two funders, we've raised $4 million so far.
The biggest utilisation that we have done from this fund is to rely the offering that we have in hand. We've invested a lot in the technology behind TeachMint. We are one of the few companies in India that have built our very own video infrastructure because we realised that the video for education looks very different. We are investing fundamentally in tech development to ensure that the product reaches as many teachers as possible during this time.
How much revenue has been generated this year via K-12 live classes and membership of students and teachers?
We do not generate any revenue. TeachMint is a free product. What we see is a critical, urgent need that the institutions and teachers have in the country right now. We feel that it is our obligation right now to make sure that the product is free. We intend to keep it so for a certain amount of time.
What are your plans for business expansion? Any plans to collaborate with big brands such as Google, YouTube or Facebook?
We have a pan-India presence. We're present in 1,100 towns and cities. In terms of coverage, geographical reach, we are present everywhere. We are in the country where every student who can afford supplementary education, go for private tuitions, coaching and so on because that's the way our education system works. So, it's a very big market that needs to be captured. We are relevant not just for online tutors but all kinds of teachers who are running their classes offline. We bring in a lot of efficiency to the e-learning and online classroom activities via automated digital assessments, online homework and assignment submission. Our focus will be towards teachers getting maximum access to it.
As the physical environment is shifting towards the virtual experience, what kind of networking strategy you have adopted at TeachMint?
The power of network goes up automatically through scale. Even today when we speak to the most successful teachers on TeachMint on how they found us, the most common answer is through someone's recommendation. Most of the teachers either find us through word-of-mouth or via quick internet search. Teaching is one industry where the community is very strong. All the teachers are connected with one another; they collaborate with students and circulate the contents. We are going to focus on product development to intensify our growth as a brand.
There are already established edtech brands in India. What sets TeachMint apart from its competitors?
It is important to understand how edtech has been happening in the country. If you look at edtech as a segment, almost all the large players that have existed in the past have always taken a content-first approach. We, at TeachMint believe that this approach cannot work for the diverse demand that is there in the country. If you look at the Indian eco-system, around 88 per cent schools are actually State Board schools, 75 per cent students go to Hindi-medium or local medium vernacular schools. A majority of students are coming from Tier-II, Tier-III (areas) and under-privileged sections, rural areas. And if you look at the entire dynamics, the demand is very unique and complex. And this demand cannot be met with content-first approach. The only way you can do it is to empower the already existing teachers. You cannot eliminate a teacher from this online learning equation and believe that technology or content only can suffice the educational needs effectively. This is where we differ from other brands. We take a teacher-first approach. Teachers know how to successfully deliver right piece of information to the students and our role is purely to provide the necessary infrastructure and support to them. We do not control curriculum in any form.
Any fund-raising plans for 2021?
I cannot comment on this at the moment, but I can say that we are growing at a much faster pace than we had anticipated. So, we will see how it goes.
Do you think there might be a fall in the number of students once the schools reopen?
It won't be a surprise that schools and colleges will go back to the traditional set-up once situation normalises. What the pandemic has done is that it has made sure every student and teacher has experienced online teaching and learning in some form. There are encouraging factors that comes with online teaching like affordability and logistics. What we have seen on our platform, is that even after the lockdown was lifted and restrictions were relaxed, people continue to use our product. People have accepted the fact this is one of the ways that teaching happens.
As a new entrepreneur, what key learnings have you taken from 2020?
I think for me, as a team, I believe that everything will fall into place if we keep on listening to our users. For TeachMint, the primary users are teachers and we always took this approach to make teaching a continuous process. Even today, we make sure that as a team we call up our teachers and take a review from them, work on their feedbacks. When you are in touch with your users, they keep on guiding you and take you towards the right direction. So, this has been our biggest learning as an edtech startup.