A class act

Catch 'em young

Test prep major career launcher is now eyeing k-12 and vocational segments 

Vishal Koul

A desk, a few chairs and Rs.4,000, all of which were duly organised in the verandah of a central Delhi home — this is how Career Launcher Educate (CLE), which was simply called Career Launcher at the time, started and remained for two years. “I did not have a business plan,” confesses Satya Narayanan R, then a 24-year-old IIM-B alumnus who started CL with his partner Gautam Puri. “But I knew that there was a market for MBA prep coaching.” He guessed right and, by 1998, the company had moved into a barsati.

In an indication of the company’s future, Narayanan turned his enterprise cash positive from the first year itself (gross revenue of Rs.2.5 lakh in FY97 grew four times to Rs.10 lakh the following year). Since then, Career Launcher has become CL Educate (CLE) and, after several rounds of PE funding, CLE is now synonymous with test-prep coaching, vocational training, schools (both playschools and secondary schools) and a fledgling B-school.

There are 225 CLE centres across 175 locations in India, with a staff-strength of 3,000 — 65% of them teachers, trainers and academicians. Besides founder and chairman Narayanan, the core management team includes half-a-dozen IIT-IIM alumni. This massive growth of a Rs.4,000 start-up is as clear an indication as any of the scope of the education sector in India: as on March 2012, CLE’s gross revenue (as per industry estimates) stood at Rs.180 crore.

Growing, growing… growing

In the first 10 years, CLE focused on test prep coaching for a gamut of sought-after courses: entrance exams for MBA, civil services, medical and engineering colleges, MCA, hotel management, law, BBA and bank probationary officer, besides state-level tests. It took to the franchisee route in 2000 to establish a pan-India presence.

Today, franchisees run 125 out of the 225 centres, and the remaining are company-owned and operat

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