EduKart, a New Delhi-based company that connects students with educational institutions, has landed $1 million to increase access to learning in India.
The startup was established in 2011 to help make education more accessible in India. Rather than bring learning online, such as MOOCs like Coursera, Udemy and others, Edukart is an enrollment service that aggregates and compiles lists of courses from physical education institutes across the country. Right now, it claims to have over 2,000 course from 90-plus education centers on its platform — they vary from K12, to coaching courses, graduate, and undergraduate studies across multiple disciplines.
“We are a big distribution platform but don’t deliver the course ourselves,” EduKart CEO Ishan Gupta explained to TechCrunch in an interview. “India is a much more fragmented market, but the large middle class is very passionate about education and really looks for options.”
EduKart also works with corporate companies to assess the learning needs of staff, and it has begun discussions with international educational institutions about adding them to its platform. But, aside from giving education options to would-be students, it also provides value as a network of its own — allowing alumni to network online, find job opportunities and more. (The service also holds the hands of its students via a support team should there be issues with their course.)
EduKart previously raised $500,000 back in 2013, and this time around its $1 million round was pulled together by a range of investors, each of which — Gupta said — provides different synergy. Holostik Group’s United Finsec led the round, with participation from YouWeCan — the VC firm started by Indian cricket legend Yuvraj Singh — as well as 500 Startups. Existing investors Vijay Shekhar Sharma (founder of Alibaba-backed PayTM), Manish Kheterpal (formerly director of Providence Equity Partners), Amit Patni and Arihant Patni of the Patni family (which sold its computer business to iGate for over a billion), and Stanford Business School’s alumni angels also took part.
Holostik, a hologram manufacturer, is a particularly interesting investor when you consider that the future of education is online. Acutely aware of the tides of change, EduKart is moving towards that whilst also keeping its existing model too.
“We have a learning management system,” Gupta said. “Our intention is that, as the market grows and shifts, we will help institutions to go online and deliver [courses] online.”
Gupta wasn’t too specific about when he believes that the needle will shift and online will take priority. Instead, he explained that often it is a case of the methods that each generation is comfortable with for consuming information.
Nonetheless, he is optimistic that the internet can help deliver educational material more widely in India.
“Over time, a lot of courses will go online,” he added. “We’ve seen a number of companies delivering education get funded lately. Online delivery can provide greater engagement, but today it is low, over time it will shift and we are right at the forefront.”
Rather than compete with other players in the market, Gupta — who graduated from Stanford and was Facebook’s first growth manager in India — said that EduKart can work with online learning companies — including MOOCs — because the sheer size of its network of students could help them find more users.
Right now, however, EduKart isn’t revealing how many students it has. But it did say that it is aiming to enroll 100,000 students per year within the next three years. Gupta added that the company is looking to raise a larger round over the next six to nine months in order to more fully tackle the online opportunity, and increase its scale once again.