In one of its kind business, Anirudh Motwani, Founder and CEO, Indiacollegesearch.com has found the bottlenecks with college admissions in India. While talking to Elets News Network (ENN)he informs that today over 5000 colleges accept admission applications via their portal.
Give us the brief of the various reasons behind starting Indiacollegesearch?
As college aspirants, we had experienced the various problems involved with college admissions in India. Lack of access to information about colleges, no clear differentiation or understanding of what makes one college better than another, logistical difficulties in sending across physical application forms and documents to each college are some of the issues.
When we saw the other side of the challenge and the difficulties faced by institutes in managing admissions, we felt there was a need to connect colleges and students in a way that classified portals had failed to do.
What are the various difficulties and hurdles encountered in doing business on ground level?
Since selecting and applying to college is a life decision for students and parents, trust plays a major role. As a startup, we didn’t have a track record but we tried to stick to a simple rule – ‘Giving no information is better than giving wrong information.’ We also thought that in the long term, it makes sense to incentivise colleges to directly upload authentic information which is again verified by us.
Changing the mindset of decision makers at the institute level is always a challenge and a lot of people within academia are skeptical of technology. So the problems are similar to what any other industry (from travel to banking) faced while adopting technology and building dependency on software solutions, but change is inevitable.
What is the market size of the services offered by you in India at present?
Indian colleges and universities currently spend around US$ 600 million per annum in application generation but less than 3 per cent is currently spend online. By 2020, we see US$ 200 million per annum in online application generation spend and US$ 400 million per annum in online admission management spend.
Career counselling is also a large market but at present we are focused on monetising from colleges and the platform is free for students to search and apply.
What are the major benefits for organisations and individuals adopting your solutions?
For institutes, the two main benefits are increasing the quality of students they accept by having a higher number of more qualified applicants and reducing time and cost involved in managing the admission process (forms, documents, payments) by more than 60 per cent.
What is the vision of your company for the next two years?
To have over 10,000 colleges accepting and managing applications exclusively via IndiaCollegeSearch. In monetary terms, we are targeting US$ 1 billion in admissions processed by 2017.
What are the various methods you are using to increase the visibility of your organisation?
Currently, there is very little marketing we do to increase the visibility. We have increased our userbase over 30X in the last two years and we have 3 million users.
Free organic traffic has been our backbone – today if you search colleges in india on Google, we’re on the top even before Wikipedia.
How you can differentiate your services from competitors?
I think the focus is different – we have taken a longer term view. So, the idea is not to have a classified ads business because college is an important decision for a student. We are doing things to improve the selection and admission process including alumni reviews, incorporating NAAC ratings, increasing transparency of the placement information and getting colleges to reduce application response time.
We are the only website to provide verified information about colleges.
What are the major stakeholders and sectors you are focusing on?
In our industry, the major stakeholders are students, parents and the colleges. Our vision is to help students find the right college and allow colleges to connect with the right students.
What are the various initiatives taken by Indiacollegesearch to emerge as a market leader?
We have taken a platform approach. In a network effects business like ours, the more colleges which accept applications via us, the higher the volume of students applying online. So right from the start, we made it free for students to apply and colleges to view and respond to applications.
Today, over 5000 colleges accept admission applications via our portal. Online or offline, no other platform can connect a student to even 10 per cent of that. So this has made us market leaders in terms of college admissions: every five minutes, a student is admitted to college via IndiaCollegeSearch.