Big Idea

Financial Masterclass

LearnApp is getting the best business icons and financial veterans to teach its users to invest and become entrepreneurs

Vishal Koul

Planning to get financially smart or seeking industry insights to better your business skills? Here’s a one-stop shop for anyone who wants to learn directly from the top veterans of the finance world — While Sankaran Naren, CIO, ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund helps you with value investing, Ashish Chauhan, CEO of BSE, teaches you how the stock market works. Then there are R Gopalakrishnan, former director at Tata Sons, taking you through the four A’s of management and Nalin Moniz, CIO, Edelweiss to enlighten you on hedge funds. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a total of 30-plus video courses and 50-plus live classes on the platform. Founder Prateek Singh justifies the line-up of ‘teachers’, “If Naren, who manages Rs.3.5 trillion worth of funds, is telling me how to identify a winning sector, I would definitely be interested. Especially if I can’t find such content on other platforms.”

Singh is not new to the world of start-ups or finance. He founded four start-ups in the past, out of which, three were related to financial applications. None were too successful. But he believes he has got the formula right this time. He explains, “One thing is credibility, second, it is not boring [with graphical explanations], and third, it doesn’t cost much [Rs.500 per month, with access to all the courses].” He calls the pricing irresistible. “For a financial course, people are charging Rs.30,000 to Rs.300,000. So, we have obliterated the pricing”.

‘No trainers, only practitioners’ is the USP of this platform. But how does the service get these financial leaders onboard when it isn’t paying them? Although Singh likes to believe they do it out of their love for the industry, it is hardly enough. Here’s where Singh’s connections help. “I may have failed four times, but I have a decent network. There is no payment or equity. They love to share knowledge. They want to give back, and that’s a motivator when you are so accomplished,” he says. 

The target audience for the platform is people between 25 and 34 years of age, those who want to advance in their careers. So far, 5,500 users have subscribed to the platform. “When we started, we didn’t have an answer to – ‘How do we market this app?’ So we just created good content and 140,000 visitors landed on the app without the help of ads,” says Singh. Out of 10,000 visitors every month, at least 500 enroll for the courses. A successful financial service company, Zerodha, has shown faith in the company. Its fund, Rainmatter, has invested nearly Rs.20 million in the start-up. LearnApp is expecting to grow to 100,000 subscribers in the next 12 to 14 months; and aiming at a revenue of Rs.35–40 million by December 2019. Till date it has clocked in Rs.12.5 million in revenue.

Seemingly, the uphill task for LearnApp would be to scale up content on the platform. Singh admits it is a big challenge. “Right now, we have 50 more leaders lined up to deliver courses, but we will have to think beyond that,” he says. Singh feels, as the number of users multiplies, it will get easier to get more leaders.

While LearnApp has chosen a niche for itself, it still faces competition from platforms such as Coursera and Udemy. These massive platforms have financial courses as well. Singh says, “Coursera wants to bring universities online; we cannot do that. We want to make people’s careers better, and assume that the users already knows the basics.”

Zerodha is also LearnApp’s institutional client, whose 1,100 employees use these courses to upgrade their skills. The start-up is integrating more companies on the platform. Acquiring customers hasn’t been a huge challenge for Singh, but to retain them is. “Making something interesting is very difficult, especially in finance. So we use animation, make it funny, and topical.”