5 women who shape indian Edu -tech startup


The education landscape in India is undergoing a paradigm shift, especially with the ongoing lockdown imposed by the government to control the spread of coronavirus(covid-19). Much of the country’s USD 180 billion education sector has gone online to adapt to the new reality.

The definition of learning is witnessing a transformation and governments, academic institutions, and entrepreneurs are jointly working to keep pace with it.

Online education is poised to reach USD 1.96 billion by 2021 with current user base of around 9.6 million. This is a trend which many edtech venture capital firms are watching closely, as seen by the significant investments in the sector of late.

Edtech space in India has a large number of women entrepreneurs working towards making learning fun and helping children get the right guidance. Listed here are five marquee names who are making remarkable contribution to India’s edtech sector.

Tanushree Nagori, Co-founder, Doubtnut 

While there are scores of online learning platforms today, ‘doubt solving’ is hardly touched upon. IIT Delhi alumni Tanushree Nagori and her husband Aditya Shankar wanted to fix this with Doubtnut, a startup they founded in 2017. It offers instant video solutions for doubts raised by students on an app-based platform.

The startup’s initial focus was on mathematics because that appeared to be the most doubt-ridden subject for students in Classes 6-9 as well as those preparing for IIT-JEE, and other entrance tests.

About 12-13 million doubts are raised every month, including a peak of 400,000 each day, and more than 4,000 videos are created every day.

Doubtnut claims 80-90 percent platform accuracy, while remaining 10-20 percent can be achieved by posting a query to human tutors available on the app.

In 2019, the edtech startup raised Rs 23 crore in a Pre-Series A round from Sequoia India’s Surge, and made it to its first cohort of 17 “incredible early-stage startups”. Doubtnut’s earlier investors Omidyar Network and Waterbridge Ventures – that had put money in 2018 – along with AET Japan also participated in the round.

Dr. Mona Mathur, Founder & CEO, Million Sparks Foundation

An extremely passionate educationist, Dr. Mona MathurFounder and CEO of Million Sparks Foundation, has been involved in teaching for the past 29 years at both the K12 and Engineering Levels. She is also an adjunct faculty at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

A PhD in Neuro Computing and Machine Learning, with a Masters in Technology from IIT Delhi, Mona believes that every child must have access to the same kind of opportunities, which is possible with the guidance of good quality teachers.

Currently, there are nine million teachers in India teaching 260 million children in one million schools, but they continue to adopt age-old methods.

“Million Sparks Foundation is making a contribution to the Education Space by bringing teachers to the centre of the conversation and by providing them with an extremely high quality teacher professional development platform ChalkLit. This platform empowers the teachers to broaden their horizons and prepares them to contribute to the Whole Child Development rather than remain focused on just numeracy and literacy,”  shared Dr. Mona Mathur – Founder & CEO, Million Sparks Foundation with The Blue Circle, who established this startup with her husband Abhinav in 2016.

Million Sparks foundation not only focuses on teacher training, but also enables lifelong learning and continuous capacity development of teachers, providing them not just scholastic inputs but also co-scholastic inputs. This helps them improve their conceptual and pedagogical skills, thereby improving their confidence and delivery in the classrooms.

MSF was recognised as the most innovative edtech startup in Asia Pacific at BETT Asia 2019 in Malaysia. Mona was a also a finalist in the Women Transforming India Awards organised by NITI Aayog. MSF  was also awarded the best Indian edtech startup award by the Global EdTech Startup Awards 2018 at the Learnit Conference in London, January 2019.

Aditi Avasthi, Founder & CEO, Embibe

Founded in 2012 by Aditi AvasthiEmbibe is a personalised engine for education based on a knowledge graph that connects all grades, curriculum and learning context together, so that students can achieve their targeted learning outcomes. The platform also offers services based on the Joint Entrance Examination – Advanced.

Aditi began this startup with an objective to guide aspirants of competitive like JEE Main, JEE Advanced, BITSAT and CET/AIPMT, and to maximise every student’s true potential through the power of data-driven insights.

After finishing her engineering from TIET, and MBA from Booth School of Business in 2010, she worked at TCS and Barclays, before founding Embibe with USD 700,000 collected from family and friends. Embibe received its first funding from Kalaari Capital and Lightbox Ventures in 2012, and USD 180 million by Reliance Industries in 2018.

Aditi was recognised as the “Accenture Vaahini Innovator of The Year” and the “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2019 by the Education Congress.

Divya Gokulnath, Co-founder & Director,BYJU’s

After completing her engineering in Biotechnology from RV College of Engineering, Bangalore, Divya had plans to go abroad for her Masters. She wanted to hone her Maths skills before appearing for GRE and that’s when she approached Byju Raveendran, Founder of BYJU’s.

He advised her to conduct classes at BYJU’s to solidify her preparation, and that’s where her journey began. Although she cracked GRE, she stayed back with BYJU’s as its co-founder.

Divya started working on formulating question papers and practice tests, besides teaching students. The physical classes continued till 2009 before Byju’s embraced technology through V-SAT. From 7 centres, it grew to 90 almost overnight.

In 2015, BYJU’s learning app was launched. Today, it is used by school students across age groups for learning mathematics and science with the help of 12-20 minute digital animated videos.

During the pandemic, BYJU’s introduced live classes, new subjects and also added multiple languages.

According to reports, BYJU’s is now raising funds with a USD 10 billion valuation and is set to be India’s third decacorn. BYJU’s revenue for FY20 stood at INR 2,800 Cr.

Kiran Dham, Managing Director & CEO, Globus Infocom

Founded by Kiran Dham along with her husband Ashish Dham, Globus Infocom provides need-based, innovative technological solutions in the field of education technology. Their educational technology solutions include digital boards, digital teaching solutions, digital language labs, digital lounge, virtual classroom solutions, and video conferencing solutions.

After working for a couple of years, Kiran felt that entrepreneurship was her calling and started Globus Infocom in 2001. The company’s revenue has already crossed the Rs 100 crore mark, and its target revenue for FY20 is Rs 150 crore, along with geographical expansion in more Tier II and Tier III cities.

Bright future ahead

Online education in India has seen active growth over the last decade due to better telecom and internet bandwidths across India and increasing adoption of smartphones and hand-held devices, apart from an ever-increasing need for convenient education.

With coronavirus forcing schools and universities to adopt online learning, the edtech sector is surely going to receive a boost.

(Edited by Anu Choudary)


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