GuruQ Connecting Tutors And Students For Quality Learning Environment
In an exclusive interaction with BW, Minal Anand, Founder and CEO of GuruQ, talks about her journey of establishing the digital tutoring platform that was born out of the desire to cater to the individual needs of every child-their learning styles and IQ. She also shares that the platform connects students to certified tutors for offline individual or group classes and vice-versa at pocket-friendly prices and customized packages. Excerpts:
Elaborate on the inception and journey of ‘GuruQ’ and the need for such a platform?
While pursuing a degree in Business Administration overseas, I realized that there was such a sharp contrast between the quality of education being offered there versus that which was being offered in India. In the US, there was a predominant use of the digital platform and innovative teaching methodologies. However, it was disheartening to note that educators in India are not well-equipped or well-versed in the latest teaching methods. Education in India is still rigid, textbookish and will serve no good use to students who will step into their professional lives in the near future. Technology is rapidly transforming jobs and students in India will lose out as they are not being trained to be technologically savvy or to think outside the classroom. If relevant skills are not being imparted to them via education, how will they be able to apply it in their careers?
A platform like GuruQ seeks to remedy the flaws in the education system by enabling students to connect with qualified, certified and vetted tutors who can make the entire learning process wholesome and interesting by focusing on the strengths, weaknesses, and IQs of each individual student. Students gain a firm understanding of subjects where every doubt is cleared and every concept is explained in detail. A tech-driven education that goes beyond the textbook will allow our students to compete globally and succeed.
What kind of acceptance or interest have you seen till now?
Well, the response has been extremely promising. We have been successful in reaching out to more than 14,000+ students who testify that GuruQ has been instrumental in elevating the standard of their education. Students look forward to their tuition classes, have grasped a better understanding of their study subjects and do not fear exams any longer. Parents are relieved that the education of their children is in safe hands and that too, at pocket-friendly prices. For the tutors who put their faith in us by registering on our platform, it has been a rewarding experience as it has broadened their knowledge, polished their skills and been lucrative as well.
What are the services that you offer? What are its key differentiators?
We offer tuition for students from kindergarten to class 12 for the CBSE and CISCE Boards via both online and offline mode. While tuition via online mode is offered PAN India, the offline mode is presently offered to students in the Delhi NCR region only, though rapid expansion will take place in 2020. We offer tuition for all subjects of the arts, humanities and science streams. Tuition for foreign languages such as French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Italian, Russian as well as tuition for entrance exams such as SSC, Medical Entrance and Engineering Entrance.
What distinguishes us from competitors is the ‘quality and safe learning environment’ that we guarantee our students after putting tutors through a stringent five-step vetting process as well as the fact that we offer tuition at extremely pocket-friendly prices that begin at just Rs 200/- per hour. Besides this, we offer tuition for all subjects right from kindergarten to class 12 and even beyond. However, our biggest USP would be the fact that we provide tutors to students based on demographics and vicinity.
How many students and tutors are enrolled as of now?
Presently, we have 14,000+ students and 17,000+ tutors and that number continues to increase every day. With plans for immediate expansion, we are optimistic that that number will triple itself within the next year.
Every startup comes across different kind of challenges, what were the challenges that you faced and how did you overcome them?
We believe that challenges are opportunities to excel in disguise. Having said that yes, initially students we unsure of how to use the highly interactive and friendly dashboard simply because they did not have a firm understanding of technology but with time and guidance by our team, they were able to pick up on how to do so. To date, we have parents and students who will call up our helpline and ask for booking of tuition classes over a call instead of using the dashboard to book which shows how most are adverse to change and cling on to the familiar even though it might be outdated. Also while a big hue and cry is made about using AI, the on-ground reality is that the masses are still ill-equipped to use it.
How are you planning to expand ‘GuruQ’ going forward? What new products, offerings, and new markets are you planning to target?
2020 is looking exciting and promising as we are planning to expand our geographical reach to most Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in North India and then to cities in South India by 2021. We want to reach the students in these cities as they too are in need of high-quality tutors. Our expansion will, of course, be in a phase-wise and systematic manner after thorough market research is done as mindsets differ from city to city. We have decided to cater to regional languages while constantly upgrading our technology. We hope to be in at least 8 to 10 cities by the end of 2020. Our mobile app is going to be launched any day now and this will make the entire process of finding the ‘right tutor’ even more convenient, easy and quick.
Can you share some success story or how have you impacted till now?
Well, initially people were skeptical about going online and availing a tutor as they were largely dependant on word-of-mouth publicity or references when it came to tutors. But as time passed they realized how quality was being compromised in the process. Our team of experts went above and beyond to put across the need and importance of quality education and were able to win the ‘trust’ of the students. So, while the concept of learning in front of a computer screen seemed ‘different’ initially, students gradually began to appreciate the highly personalized attention that they were receiving complete with worksheets and mock question papers being formulated for them. Once they reaped the benefits of having an endless pool of tutors and the option of selecting them only after comparing reviews and ratings, the entire process became more alluring to parents and students alike. Our offline model has been a hit since the start as connecting students with vetted and knowledgeable tutors within their vicinity has been time and money-saving for both tutors and students alike.
Since inception, we have witnessed tremendous growth, have managed to raise a pre-series A funding and are in talks for another round of funding very soon as our investors have been able to gauge the results we are delivering and accordingly have put their faith in us.
Please suggest about your initial investment?
We have been self-funded since 2016 and then we received a pre-series A funding of Rs 2.5 crores from investors. We have used the money raised primarily on marketing, growth and expansion and of course technical innovation along with the recruitment of top talent.
What figures will you suggest for collective wealth generation with ‘GuruQ’ till now?
We have not only achieved the goals set but consistently exceeded them. We are increasing revenue by 30-40 % on a month-to-month basis. Also, 90% of students who book classes once always book again.
As the Founder, what goals have you decided for this year and the coming 3-5 years?
As I have already mentioned before, a mobile app is going to be launched by end-December or the beginning of January to reach a greater number of users. We are looking to expand in terms of functionalities, offerings and of course geographically. We wish to expand to Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in North India by 2020 and in South India by 2021. This would give our ‘offline’ mode of providing tuition a PAN India presence as online classes are already available across the nation. We are excited to reach cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Gujarat, Indore, Bhopal and Kolkata besides other cities. This would create terrific job opportunities for local people. Also, we are optimistic about venturing into training corporate professionals. We will be doing so, by leveraging our top-quality tutors to train corporate employees in the art of communication. So, yes, the next 3-5 years look good for dramatic expansion and enhancement of GuruQ.
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