Hiring the right instructors is the biggest difficulty, says Abhishek Singh, Founder, Coursebirdie. The venture is looking out for people who are top of their fields at the same time passionate about teaching skills to others, so that students get the best.
Give us the brief of the various reasons behind starting the Coursebirdie?
In 2012, I was working on my first startup that helped students and parents with course and college selection. Because of limited programming skills, I struggled over the growth of the business. I enrolled for few classes, but after spending both money and good, ended up with nothing. During the same time, I was doing research on the Indian higher education market as part of my Master’s thesis at the University of Edinburgh. I found out about the huge gap between student learning outcomes and market demand. Other co-founder too was in UK and was doing research on UK education market. At that time we decided to quit our jobs and move back to India to start this venture and solve this problem that both of us faced by offering education that is relevant, interactive and inexpensive. We followed the approach of learning by doing and tailored each class and workshops around a project.
What are the various difficulties and hurdles encountered in doing business on ground level?
Hiring the right instructors is the biggest difficulty. There’s a massive shortage. We’re looking for people who are top of their fields at the same time passionate about teaching skills to others.
What is the market size of the services offered by you in India at present?
It’s a very huge market. Education market in India is worth around US$ 92.98 billion and higher education contributes 59.7 per cent of the market size. It will be growing 18per cent per year.
Over 50 per cent of India’s population is under 25 years old and a lot of people want to learn new skills or upgrade their skills.
What are the major benefits for organisations and individuals adopting your solutions?
Well there are many benefits for students. Students can learn programming and business skills for free or at a fraction of cost charged by institutes. They are taught by expert teachers who not only have knowledge of that topic but are expert practitioners. Students learn through a hands-on project by doing. Through online discussions they can ask questions from fellow learners and instructors, share links and get feedback from other students.
What is the vision of your company for next two years?
In next two year, we’re planning to add 50-60 online classes to our library and offers in-person (or onsite) workshops in Bangalore, Singapore and London. Apart from that, we are working on a number of exciting initiatives, such as career services, job board and 1-on-1 mentorship programme. We are particularly fired up by the opportunity to teach 1000 students this year from economically backward sections of society for free.
What are the various methods you are using to increase the visibility of your organisation?
We spent zero on marketing and advertising. Through word of mouth we had a waitlist of 5000 students. Since we launched Coursebirdie Online Classes, we have taught a little over 8000 students. To increase the visibility we’re now investing in different forms of digital marketing. We also have plans in place in terms of more traditional advertising.
How you can differentiate your services from competitors?
Our education favours practice over theory. We’re offering practical, hands on education that is delivered by expert practitioners. These expert practitioners are young people and not college professors and are updated with new, cutting edge skills. These young people frequently interact with students and together we strive to make video lessons that feel personal so students have stronger connections to the teacher and subject.
As I mentioned before, each class or workshops is designed around a project so that by the end, student has built something that they can show to current or future employers.
What are the ways of engaging customers with you? Any special case study?
To engage students we’re making sure that each class include short bite-sized video lessons and project. Shorter videos are easy to digest and allow students to easily self-navigate through the content. We’re also engaging students through discussion forums and 1-on-1 mentorship programme.
To aid and enhance the learning experience of our students we’re working towards offering career services, career fairs and networking meet-ups. These features will be introduced in coming months.
What are the various initiatives taken by your organisation to emerge as a market leader?
In addition to teaching young professionals and university graduates, we are also working towards teaching 21st century skills to small and medium-sized businesses. We are organising in-person workshops and teaching them skills such as networking, website design, blogging and social media marketing that would help them grow their business.
We’re partnering with few major employers so that we can design short learning programmes according to their requirements.