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What is the best way to learn arts online?

Artfills leveraging technology to offer top quality art education for both kids and adults

Bhakti Deshpande,  Founder, Artfills

Bhakti Deshpande, Founder, Artfills

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We-Hub-incubated startup Artfills provides top quality Indian art education to adults and children. While 76 per cent parents cite performing arts like dance and music as their preferred activities, but they face multiple issues in an unorganised market such as access to top teachers, curriculum, personalisation and information asymmetry. Artfills enables users to learn from time tested methods delivered by masters and leverage technology for a personalised, adaptive and application-driven learning. In an exclusive interview with Bizz Buzz, Bhakti Deshpande, Founder of Artfills, shares how the startup is able to provide users the best way to learn arts online in their own language.

What inspired you to start Artfills and what is your vision for the company?

I'm a second-generation artist and have learned from legendary guru's and had been teaching for a decade but could reach only a few privileged students in Mumbai. This made me realise the problems faced by most students like access to top gurus or teachers, curriculum, personalisation, and information asymmetry among others.

With the fast-changing startup and technology landscape, I teamed up with my husband, Dhruv Deshmukh, to start Artfills and ensure by leveraging technology, top quality Indian art education to be available to all.

Can you tell us more about the classical arts courses that Artfills offers and how they are structured?

We currently offer one year courses in Kathak and Hindustani vocals courses for kids and adults. These courses are meant for beginners. Students learn the basics of their chosen Artform and also convert their learnings in short performances through the course. Students learn with weekly live classes, highly curated masterclasses, practice routines, easy to follow curriculum and for adults we offer learning options in a few regional languages as well.

How do you go about selecting and training your teachers/instructors?

We select only the top teachers on Artfills. We have a four step screening process and only 10 per cent teachers are finally selected. Our month long in-depth training then focuses on empowering teachers with tools they will need for teaching online and personalising the experience of students with different needs and talents.

Can you share some success stories or testimonials from students who have taken your courses?

Our students start at the age of 6. In adults, many are learning an artform for the first time at the age of 30-40 and many at even 60+.

How do you see the future of classical arts education, and how does Artfills fit into that future?

Indian Arts have a very bright future. As our economy grows, India is looking at its roots with Pride as well. The New Education policy also emphasis on Indian art learning to be a major part of our co-curricular education. We estimate the extra-curricular market in India to be about $7 billion which will only expand much faster with these changing trends.

Artfills is a Art edtech company, on a mission to provide the highest quality Art education to all. We ensure that time tested time proven Indian Art learning is available to all by leveraging technology.

How do you envision Artfills making an impact in the world of classical arts education?

Indian Arts have always evolved with changing times, that's how anything can last thousands of years. However in the last 75 years the modern schooling system has not done a good job of integrating Indian art learning, and so it has thrived in an unorganised fashion or under legendary Guru's but with limited reach. Artfills will be the best place to learn Indian Arts, for users in India and around the globe. We are organising a large unorganized market and ensuring technology is leveraged to provide everyone the best quality training.

How do you plan to scale Artfills and expand the reach of your courses to more people?

We currently teach two Artforms and will expand to all major Indian Arts. Also we will be providing a indepth experience, which means students can learn with us upto 6-7 years. Apart from artforms we are also adding regional languages and expanding our offering to the large NRI community soon.

Can you discuss any challenges or obstacles you have faced in starting and running Artfills, and how you have addressed them?

We started Artfills as a in-school training programme, but when the pandemic hit we had to shut that business completely. We soon pivoted to a direct-to-consumer online learning model, and believe this is a much faster way to make an impact. In a short while we have more than 20,000 registered users

How do you see the role of technology in classical arts education, and how is Artfills leveraging it?

Technology plays a central role in enabling learning, like delivering highly curated masterclasses, live online classes for personalised learning and feedback and practice routines for self-learning. Technology also plays a vital role in managing the teacher experience, parent engagement and class management of users.

How do you envision the role of Artfills in preserving and promoting cultural traditions through classical arts education?

As I mentioned it is important to evolve with changing times. And so by leveraging technology we are ensuring reach, as we deliver as per the needs and comforts of the modern user but we also ensure quality, by preserving the time tested and time proven Art learning methods via our masterclasses and teaching processes.

Can you share any financial data or metrics on the performance of Artfills in the past year, such as revenue, profitability, or growth?

We have more than 20,000 users registered on the platform and have grown 3x in monthly revenues over the last 10 months. We believe future Indian startups will have both and high growth and high profit and that's what we are building.

How has your association with We-Hub been so far?

We-Hub has enabled us to go to the next level in our startup journey. This has happened via highly personalised mentorship sessions and also a seed investment under the start-up India seed fund scheme. In a short while we were able to add a new artform, develop technology layer for class management, increase our monthly revenues by 3x and make a team of 25 employees on focus mission of providing the highest quality art education.

(This is the seventh interview of WTC Shamshabad-WE Hub Startup Series, a collaborative effort of World Trade Center – Shamshabad and WE Hub, the incubator for women-led startups, to showcase startups founded by women entrepreneurs)

N Sharath Chowdary
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