Investments in the specialist education solutions market in India are gaining momentum. Hyderabad-based Kindle Experiential Learning, an education startup that develops innovative learning solutions for schools under the brand Creya Learning, is raising between $4.5 million and $5 million as part of its first round of funding from two undisclosed Indian individual investors. The company is in advanced stages of finalizing a termsheet and will announce the deal shortly.
Creya’s founders, Hari K Verma, Praveen B Vudoagiri and Datla V Reddy, expect the upcoming round of funding to keep them capitalized for a couple of years at least. “We should be able to break-even next year, which will reduce our dependence on external funding,” Verma told StartupCentral in a telephonic conversation today. The company, which started up in January last year, is looking at revenues in the region of Rs 80 lakh (about $0.14 million) this year.
Verma and his co-founders started brainstorming on Creya nearly three years before they launched the company. All three earlier worked with US-based education solutions company Knowledge Universe. Initially, the founders explored the idea of starting a school that would adopt logic-based, practical learning solutions as its curriculum. However, realizing that the model would be difficult to scale they decided to instead come up with out-of-curriculum solutions that could be integrated with what was already being taught at existing schools. It has since signed on four schools – two in Andhra Pradesh, one in Delhi and one in Haryana.
By the end of 2012, the company plans to sign on four more schools and is also currently in discussions with a Mumbai-based education group that runs 25 schools across the country. “Taking an average of 1,000 students per school, we should have 8,000-odd students using our solutions by the end of this year,” said Verma. The number of schools would be at around 40 by the end of next year, he adds.
Schools that sign up with Creya typically pay the company a fee of Rs 3,000 per student per year and contracts are usually for a three-year period. Creya sets up a laboratory within the school’s premises, usually over an area of 500-600 square feet, where students from the first grade to the tenth grade can learn using its kits and programmes. The company has developed 900 hours worth of curriculum, working with institutions and teachers in the US. This curriculum is customized to work alongside the existing timetables that schools here follow.
“The objective is not to duplicate what is already being taught, but bring in a parallel, practical approach to what students are learning in classrooms,” said Verma. Students typically work in groups on challenges such as building a pulley or putting together a miniature windmill. The company currently largely imports the manipulators or parts for creating learning kits, though it is trying to localize sourcing as far as possible. Creya’s package offers each school a minimum of 30 hours of curriculum, a company-trained teacher to work with the school’s teachers for a year and a 40-hour faculty development programme. Apart from working with schools, the company also conducts summer camps is targeting 200 students next year. It charges between Rs 2,000 and Rs 4,000 per student per week.
The specialist education solutions market in India is still nascent but fast getting crowded. The past couple of years have seen a slew of specialist education startups like Creya crop up and several have attracted venture capital. Earlier this year, Bangalore-based Hippocampus Learning Centers, which targets the rural market, raised $1.3 million as Series A funding from Lok Capital and Acumen Fund. In February, Bangalore-based Carveniche Technologies, an elearning company that provides K12 learning content, raised $0.2 million in angel funding from Mumbai Angels. Last month, Limberlink Technologies, also based in Bangalore, which creates out-of-curriculum courses for core engineering students, raised $2 million as part of a Series A round from Accel Partners.
Image Courtesy: Creya Learning