Our aim is to close student-teacher gap: UrbanPro

Rakesh3 E-learning marketplace ThinkVidya.com, which has been recently rebranded to UrbanPro.com, offers the services of tutors and training institutes for students across middle school, high school, graduation and post graduation, as well as tutors for competitive exam preparations and IT classes, and much more. Rakesh Kalra, Founder and CEO, ThinkVidya.com, says that they aim to close the gap between teachers and students.

What are the reasons behind starting UrbanPro?

India currently has the youngest population in the world, with a large percentage of the population under the age of 25. We at UrbanPro aim to close the gap between teachers and students, enabling qualitative and holistic learning across demographics in a cost effective and efficient manner.

Our vision is to create a professional platform, where people can find help to gain knowledge and skills in order to generate income for teachers and skill providers, improve employability and create an active learning eco-system in India. We believe that education may stop at some point in your life, but learning shouldn’t.

What are the various difficulties and hurdles encountered in doing business on ground level?

The service and education space is at a very dynamic space in terms of offline entities. However, its online counterpart can still be termed as a virgin territory. This has resulted in both pros and cons for us. The biggest benefit has been gaining first mover advantage, but we have constantly faced hurdles as well.  Since the category is in its nascent stage, bringing affiliates on board in the beginning did prove troublesome. I am happy to say that we have overcome that with more 298,000+ service providers on board. The second challenge we faced initially was that of making students and parents aware of our services.

One of the challenges that we always face from the student or the parent is that they always expect experienced tutors to be present in their locality. Therefore providing them with the relevant matching tutors becomes a hurdle if the supply of teachers is restricted in that locality.

Another concern that we often hear from parents is that they expect a tuition teacher to handle multiple subjects for the intermediate and high school levels. Providing them with an option can be challenging at times.

What is the market size of the services offered by you in India at present?

The market is extremely dynamic at the moment with aggressive focus on learning and skill development. The market size is huge in India for the services that we offer. Private coaching industry alone is a $40 billion market. As a matter of fact, 87 per cent of the primary school children and up to 95 per cent of the high school students receive private tutoring in metros according to an exclusive survey by ASSOCHAM.

We are the market leader in the tuition space in India for school and college tuitions. We help the students to find the right tutor or the training institute in their locality depending on their level, board and subject. What excites us is the school tutoring market, which is poised to grow at 10 per cent CAGR from 2013 to 2018. I foresee an escalated growth momentum in the next couple of years along with expansion of the market.

What are the major benefits for organisations and individuals adopting your solutions?

I believe that we are bringing a very well rounded product to both students and teachers. Since the crux of our vision is to enable holistic learning, hence our product adds value to both teachers and students. We at UrbanPro are helping organise the unstructured market of tuitions and professional training providers – both institutes and individuals, by providing an online platform to connect students with teachers. We serve a wide range of categories including school or college tuitions, exam entrance, sports, computer training, dance, music, photography, painting, cooking, yoga, and many others.

UrbanPro has enabled a Linkedin-like platform for the teaching community where individual trainers or institutes can create profiles, add skills or experience details get recommendations from past students, showcase their class videos, add photo galleries of classes or workshops, upload online courses or conduct trainings and workshops.

Tell us about the vision of your company for next two years?

ThinkVidya is currently at a very exciting stage, we have a robust network of teachers and students, with more than 298,000+ teachers and 5,40,000+ students. We are looking to take our vision further by expanding our network and adding to the sets of verticals in place.  We are currently pursuing a re-branding exercise that will enable this and will add some exciting verticals such as health, wellness, and photography and event management amongst others.

What are the various methods you are using to increase the visibility of your organisation?

We are currently in the process of a re-branding and expansion exercise. We spend our marketing money towards acquiring students and teachers. So the student or the teacher use our system when they have a need. We also have a team which focusses on collecting training institutes’ data across India and help enrich their profile on our system.

Apart from that, feet on the ground helps in increasing the visibility of our brand across the top cities in India where we have sales presence to reach out to the training institutes.

How you can differentiate your services from your competitors?

UrbanPro has a unique product offering. The platform is an enabler for both the service provider and the consumer unlike our competition.  Apart from that, we have in place a very robust network of service providers and consumers that is going through a very rapid and aggressive growth phase.

How do you engage customers with you? Any special Case study?

Private tutoring in India is unorganised and is highly unstructured. Being the market leader in the education marketplace, we provide a lot of opportunities for the users that want to teach part time, especially in metros. All they need to do is to complete their profile on our system. Since we are a marketplace we help engage both the students and tutors when there is a match. Tutors can thus increase their earnings using our system, this in turn helps in the repeat usage on our system.

Students on the other hand will be able to go through the profiles, reviews, skill sets, and other important information of the tutors and training institutes for making decisions.

What are the various initiatives taken by your organisation to emerge as a market leader?

We are already a market leader in the education space in India. However, to sustain the leadership position that we have, we are also continuously working on enhancements in the product, improved UI and UX, mobile app for users and professionals, getting into other verticals and verified service providers.

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