Sharma is like any other aspiring student in India, whose dream is to make it to the premier Indian Institute of Technology. But, coaching for the competitive entrance test remains elusive as he lives on the outskirts of Chhapra, a tier-II city in Bihar from where the nearest school is 50 km away. It was then that someone introduced Sharma to Eckovation’s app that connects students and professionals with instructors offering an online course.
Two IIT-Delhi alumni, Ritesh Singh and Akshat Goel created this social network for learning in December 2015. “We found that there are very few quality teachers in this country, and their reach is limited. Secondly, the penetration of mobile technology enabled the sharing of course material through a social learning platform,” says Singh. The duo set up the education network with an initial investment of ₹12 lakh. Eckovation raised its first round of funding — ₹70 lakh in March 2016 from impact investors like Chandigarh Angels Network and Rohit Chadha of Bain & Company.
If you’re a teacher, you simply have to download the app, register and start a group. Interested students can then add themselves to a group and the courses are conducted via videos, audio or simple lecture series on YouTube or Google. “The courses are divided into three broad genres — test preparation groups like Olympiad, IAS, JEE, CAT, etc; professional courses like basic programming, and curriculum-based courses that include basic school-level subjects,” Singh explains. “We have embedded tool-kits in the app where teachers have the option of chatting with the user on a one-on-one basis or open the group for discussion through the ‘discussion board’; it is designed in a way to operate on slow internet,’ says Goel, co-founder and CTO of Eckovation.
Course fees start from as low as ₹50 per student and can go up to ₹7,000. With 375,000 users on the network, a teacher earns on average around ₹30,000 per month. The start-up earns a 10-30% commission from each teacher and currently clocks a monthly revenue of ₹750,000. Eckovation is spreading its reach by tying up with 200-300 schools in tier II and tier III cities to promote it as a network for parents, students and teachers. By the end of this year, the learner’s social network plans to have a user base of 1 million.