Supplementary learning beyond the four walls of a school classroom is a common sight in Ahmedabad. But when someone offers the coaching segment a cloud based ecosystem, you can expect a revolution in the education sector. We are talking about CourseKart, a website that encourages collaborative learning among students and instructors.
Ahmedabad based entrepreneur Vishal Chopra graduated from Wharton’s MBA program in 2006 and decided to virtualize the class system by launching www.CourseKart.com with co-founder Janak Agarwal. The Ahmedabad Blog found their concept extremely innovative and approached Vishal Chopra for an interview to understand their venture better.
Vishal Chopra: Education presents some interesting opportunities for disruptive innovation – relatively recession proof, large market size and poor track-record of using technology in meaningful, measurable ways to materially impact learning outcomes. Still stuck in traditional “brick” model of learning, there remains tremendous opportunity to complement this “brick” experience with a world-class “click” experience.
At CourseKart, we are on a mission to take learning outside the classroom. We believe that there is goodness in both worlds – the “brick” part helps drive discipline and in-person interaction, while the “click” part allows students to learn and discover at their own pace, anytime, anywhere.
CourseKart is our attempt to build a scalable, secure, cloud-based platform that enables instructors to engage, interact and collaborate with their students for a richer, shared learning experience. By designing a solution that works on all devices (Android, iOS, Web) from day one – we let the students break free to a richer, collaborative learning experience.
Currently – we are focused on the test-preparation vertical in India (all different competitive exams) and offer a “captive” Virtual Class for our instructors to connect with their students cross-platform. We have received a great response so far and will be reaching nearly 10,000 students in 20 different cities by year-end. We are also working on interesting new ways for offering access to world-class content from the best instructors in India to students nationwide, at their fingertips.
The Ahmedabad Blog: What type of educational experiences do you want students and educators to have?
For Students – we want to make learning a fun, easy and effective experience. By reviewing videos and notes at their own pace, giving tests to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and resolving doubts with friends and instructors online – and doing all this on a device of their choice, students should be able to learn anytime, anywhere.
For Instructors – we intend to open a new world of possibilities for them. By using our platform to deliver repetitive content (e.g: revision and theory lecture videos, class notes, test-prep sheets) and testing (e.g: subject tests, mock-tests), instructors can focus in class on what they do best – resolving doubts and strengthening weak areas where their students can benefit the most from their help.
The Ahmedabad Blog: What’s your take on MOOC and how is www.CourseKart.com different from MOOC?
Vishal Chopra: MOOC is one of the best things to have happened for breaking barriers around access to high-quality learning resources for students worldwide. Who wouldn’t benefit by learning from professors at Stanford, MIT, Harvard and even Khan Academy on practically every possible subject imaginable!
MOOC Platforms such as Coursera and EdX focus on taking learning from some of the best schools around the world to students worldwide. These efforts represent a truly revolutionary approach toward democratizing access to the best education anywhere, anytime.
At CourseKart, we have adopted a more evolutionary approach towards learning. We believe that in many cases – instructors nationwide who are passionately working with students in classrooms are great at what they do – i.e. understand, articulate and deliver learning concepts to their students in the best-way possible.
But what they lack is the ability to complement their strengths with the means to connect with their students anywhere, anytime. Doing so, will help unleash tremendous impact by delivering measurable benefits to students and instructors alike.
The Ahmedabad Blog: Since you are based out of Ahmedabad, any education trends you see that are specific to Ahmedabad?
Vishal Chopra: Ahmedabad is a microcosm of all things Indian and education is no different. While commerce-oriented careers dominate the student psyche (Ahmedabad is a national hub for CA coaching), Ahmedabad has a small but fast-growing base of students preparing for JEE and GATE exams. Throw in a sizeable population for CAT prep (with the best management school) and increasing interest in international exams – such as SAT, GRE, GMAT, you have a nice blend of ambition, willingness to spend and comfort with technology being a part of their learning experience.
Our first three clients were from Ahmedabad, and we have plans to penetrate much faster both the English and local-language test-prep segments.
The Ahmedabad Blog: What are the challenges you faced? How has your journey been so far?
Journey has been very exciting so far. The trademark high and low startup moments tinged with the excitement of winning our first client and building up our team of “can do” believers has been a super experience!
We have a geographically distributed team with 2 members in the US, 1 in Delhi and the rest of us in Ahmedabad. Energy, team-play and caliber to deliver the goods when it matters most, has been our defining criteria in building the team. Technology has made it easy for us to coordinate and deliver a world-class product.
Biggest challenge? Educating instructors to think about technology in a long-term, strategic way that is critical to their business growth and sustainability.
The Ahmedabad Blog: One reason why every student and educator should join www.CourseKart.com?
Vishal Chopra: Because learning should be a fun, enriching and collaborative experience that should be available at your pace – anywhere, anytime
The Ahmedabad Blog: Why did you decide to set up your business from Ahmedabad?
Vishal Chopra: I grew up in Ahmedabad; studied at St. Xaviers Loyola and went to LD College for my undergraduate degree, before spending over a decade in the US. Having returned for personal and professional reasons, I figured Ahmedabad should be as good a place as the top tech hubs to start your venture. Cost effective to startup, plenty of good talent and a vibrant target market to pilot-test your offering – what more can you want! And as they say – if you can sell to an Amdavadi, you can sell to the nation 🙂
The Ahmedabad Blog: One tip for young Amdavadi entrepreneurs.
Vishal Chopra: I have three:
- Believe in yourself and your idea. Partner up because there is no bravado in going solo
- Build a minimum viable product or service that can be “pilot tested” with your target audience. Because nothing hurts like building a great product that nobody wants
- Listen to your audience and constantly adapt and innovate