Education Is A promise, One That Consistently Fails To Deliver Except At The Best Colleges: Varun Mayya

In an exclusive interaction with BW Education, Varun Mayya, Founder and CEO, Avalon Meta and Avalon Labs spoke about the company and more.

Please elaborate on Avalon Meta Business Model?

Some of the global edtech giants have proven that students want to learn from live classes rather than pre-recorded ones. 

While most of them disrupted the tuition centres and K12, we believe in taking the battle straight to colleges.

We allow students to access pre-recorded content for free for a demo of a teacher they want to learn from and then subscribe to that teacher for live classes, with live weekly grading and a project-based approach to learning. 

We even have an online university app with voice rooms and chat rooms that allow people to hop on and "make friends" like in the real world. We also have a full central placement network like my previous company, Jobspire. It's a complete virtual simulation of college.

When students pay professors on our platform for a subscription to their live classes, we take a 10-15% commission. A student generally builds out a palette of their interested classes and thus builds out their customized virtual college.

For professors, the discovery cost of finding/building a paying audience is quite high. We enable the best individual teachers to hop on and find a paying audience to teach instantly.

We are currently considered by our audience to be the most trusted brand in education for digital skills in India. We believe EdTech companies compete on the quality of teachers and brand. We have both.

Why did you feel the need to launch Avalon Meta, what problems it aims to solve?

Education in India is broken. I'm reminded of a story my father often tells me, of a neighbour who had to sell his house to fund his child's studies, only for the boy to find the degree worthless and end up running food deliveries after not being offered placements.

Education is a promise, one that consistently fails to deliver except at the best colleges. Most often, the 2 big advantages of the best colleges in India are access to great alumni/peer groups and access to top-class professors.

The social impact of allowing 120 Mn Indians, especially in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities to learn digital skills like code, design, finance, 3D and more; for a fraction of the costs, where most of the revenue lands up in the hands of quality professors is a much-needed change. "A million new digital creators through the power of learning" is our fervent pitch.

How do you envision the new-age of education with technology?

Most existing course platforms barely manage a 5% user retention. Self-paced learning is a lonely experience. You need a group to hold you accountable. 

The new age of platforms is going to focus on something much deeper: the digital learning ecosystem. It's not about the content or course curriculum as much as it is about the community of co-learners, practical hands-on implementation, and the quality of end job offers. 

What suggestions do you have for students whose exams have been postponed amid Coronavirus? 

Some of your readers will hate to admit this, but the curriculum that they have their exams for is likely not keeping up with the industry. Don’t we talk about the ‘skill gap’ all the time? Seems like it’s the new norm. Now that you, the students, are spared time off the system, shift your focus to getting acquainted with what's happening in the real world. The Internet is your best gateway to that. 

Join a community of people with similar career goals as you and together find ways to tread the path towards your goals. The effectiveness of the traditional determinants (grades, GPAs, degrees, etc.) is wearing off - these are not the most optimum pathway to a bright career. 

Do you think India is prepared enough for a digital transformation in the education sector? 

It’s already happening, and India's responding pretty well to it. We know this because we are at the forefront of this transformation. No doubt, it's been accelerated by great leaps due to the pandemic. Looking at the data, I have zero hesitance in saying that the time is right and the time is now.

Are you looking to raise any more funding?

That’s on the road map for 2021. 

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