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October 08, 2020 Thursday 10:19:39 AM IST

Pallikkutam National Award for Startups in Education 2020

Cover Story

The Pallikkutam National Awards for Startups in Education 2020 was instituted by Rajagiri Media in association with the Kerala Startup Mission with the objective of recognising educational startups engaged in bringing about disruptive and frugal innovations in education. The awards were sponsored under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme of South Indian Bank. All startups in India registered under Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) were eligible to apply and last date for submission of entries was 31St July 2020.

Jury Notes: Varied and Innovative Solutions

The entries for Pallikkutam National Award for Startups in Education were varied and diverse. There were those meant for market places, platforms, management solutions, content for different audiences and genres. They provided innovative solutions in areas such as soft skills development, Artificial Intelligence (AI), music etc. Noteworthy was a solution to promote music. Some solutions addressed the need of inclusivity of technology for wide strata of society, wider platforms for diverse access and lacunae in current systems were identified and specific solutions developed for underserved markets.  .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
There were solutions for children with learning disabilities and wide range of good mix of applications. It was difficult to rate and rank the applicants but those who put up a coherent business plan are the ones that surfaced on the top. Innovative idea or technology will not translate into a good business model. Identifying the need in the market, target audience and packaging the solutions in such a manner that it looks pleasing to the intended customer is paramount. The winners had a very good understanding of the target market, very well -defined product offering and a very good go-to market strategy.



The entries were evaluated on the basis of scalability, leveraging technology, quality of content and revenue models. There were great ideas with not so well thought out business models. Startups should identify their USP (Unique Selling Proposition), identify the customers and ensure that you have a go-to market strategy.

- Rahul Savoor, Wadhwani Foundation


Golden Award: Harappa Education

Foundational Skills to Drive Career Success

Harappa Education addresses a core gap in education with their unique curriculum of 5 habits (THINK, SOLVE, COMMUNICATE, COLLABORATE and LEAD) and 25 skills delivered through an engaging online-first approach. The target audience for the company is learners at all stages in their career-graduates, young ambitious professionals and senior professionals. They aim to enable learning of these life skills at scale, leveraging the most innovative digital learning technologies and online pedagogical tools. Harappa Education helps corporates and campuses in enhancing employability by addressing the challenges, needs, and aspirations of modern workplaces. Since April 2020, hey have also opened the Harappa courses to B2C learners.


Jury Note
Harappa Education displayed a clear understanding of the need in the industry, excellent solution delivery and great faculty.



Interview/Mr Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder and Chairman


How did the five pillars of Harappa evolve?
These are foundational skills that have been neglected for generations. These are skills that have to be taught to every child in school. Most technical skills taught are never used.  Most of us have been taught calculus. Getting and receiving feedback should be taught much more than calculus. How you speak and structure your thoughts should be taught more than calculus. I am filling a gap that applies to everyone. It applies to journalists, lawyers, architects, doctors and just about everyone. It came about due to a culmination of the entire experiences I have gone through in my career. I’ am a firm believer that anyone can do anything. The soft s kills I talk about are more important than the undergraduate or postgraduate degree you may hold. If you become aware you can master this in life. Most importantly what matters is the drive to excel.


You talked about the drive. Is it inborn or nurtured?
I think it is nurtured and learned. I think the inborn part comes from showing people what they are actually capable of. Most people are not motivated as they are not excited about the future. They don't see the possibilities They don't believe enough in themselves. They believe that ‘what is given to me determines my future’. Only when people are able to see something that fits their likes and potential, then the excitement and drive takes off.


What is the initial outcome you have noticed in learners?
The significant outcome is the confidence created in our learners. They are able to think better, speak better and problem-solve better. The feedback on the course is positive and we have received ratings of 4.5 on a scale of 5 which is good enough.



What about the scalability of business?
We have 25 courses and we plan to have more. People are talking about a 60-year life. We believe people will stay with us for life-long learning. For us curation and creation of content is important and not the technology platform that we’ve built. The core is the digital pedagogy-how do you teach online especially for the type of content that we’ve created.

Why Harappa name and designation of you as Chief Inspirer and Shreyasi Singh as Chief Warrior?
The designations are our own fun way of describing our roles. I see Shreyasi as the one going out for the war by building the business and I am providing the motivation and the inspiration. The Harappa name is something that has stayed with me for some time and it was in my mind for many projects over the years. Harappa carries with it a symbol of excellence. As a civilization and as a people, as a community, a high level of excellence was achieved five thousand years ago. I’m not sure whether or not we’ve matched that yet.  The systems that were in place, human beings were at their zenith in many ways whether it is about how they lived, how they thought, how they planned and ran their economy, how they built their sanitation, built their cities, the civilized way they lived, their art, their sculptures. Also, it is a very Indian name. I am a patriot and I wanted to create something out of India that will come to be known the world over. I don't think there are too many brands like that. Maybe I am too ambitious with the little drive that I have. The skills we talk about are basically foundational. These skills are in our DNA but we have neglected it. I am not discovering anything new. ‘Harappa’ evokes that kind of imagery of those foundational skills.

Silver Award Winner: Stellariz Edtech Solutions Pvt Ltd

Connecting Trainers with a Deserving Market


Stellariz Edtech Solutions has developed the system to connect trainers with the corporate world through Scooppin.in and the Trainersacademy.in. It is fast becoming the country's largest repository of Trainers pre-recorded online courses. The courses are structured in capsules of two hours maximum and it is likely to l become the most sought after knowledge modules for the extra skilling requirements of colleges and schools. A free signup facility is given to trainers and the managed services enable adequate training for the trainers to convert their training materials to resellable products in the open market through trainersacademy.in.  It becomes the one-stop solution for the trainers to profile, position, connect, productize, collaborate and make business in their un-accessed markets. The Scooppin's Online Trainers Academy enables training of training with thousands of course modules. Trainersacademy.in is the first indigenously developed online academy supported by its parent-product scooppin.com. The service is designed as a managed market place and it is easy to put up a DIY SAAS system online. It is the repeated customer touch point which makes the product evolve and help to stay relevant. The company specialises on creating unaccessed market connect for the trainers and learners. Stellariz believes the future belongs to a system that empowers the society with byte-sized learning in their local language. One the local language trainings are integrated in the system, it can be made available in every single knowledge seeker's smart phone, tablet and laptop.

Jury Note
Unique idea to create a complete eco system for trainers. Good execution plan.


Interview/Raghesh Menon and Girish Panicker, Co –Founders


Stellariz was co-founded by Mr Raghesh Menon with considerabe experience in technology, operations and marketing in leading companies such as TCS and Girish Panicker who has domain expertise in training in the corporate sector having begun his career in pharma industry and worked in life insurance.  In 2015, Girish Panciker started his own corporate training activity and found that it was a tough market to crack and connect with the corporate.

Raghesh Menon had the idea of Scoopin when he started working with TCS two decades  ago after completion of his BTech from Cochin University of Science and Technology.  He found something wrong with the training industry and needed interventions or overhauling.  Stellariz was not the first venture of Raghesh as he had run a firm in health care for four years before. But before he started the new technology venture,  he started a community of trainers to understand the problems and pains of the industry. And that led to a chance meeting with Mr Girish Panicker who had considered domain expertise in corporate training and that led to the development of Scooppin.in and trainersacademy.in as we see it today.

How do you ensure the quality of trainers who join your system?
We don't discriminate between one trainer and the other or judge them. And each one brings unique set of competencies.  Now what happens is that a company may be requiring a trainer and an appropriate trainer may be living nearby. The company doesn't know the trainer exists and the trainer doesn't know that there is an opportunity nearby. And they might end up finding a person in a different state or far away. Bringing them involves flight costs, accommodation charges and become a costly exercise.

Trainers have unique skills and our fundamental philosophy based on that.  We believe that trainers need to come out of the 2 pages Curriculum Vitae (CV) concept. When an HR sees a CV in a 2 page pdf, it is considered as a job application and looked down upon . We respect the trainer community. We are changing the concept of two page CV to a digital portfolio. We enable trainers to create profile with social proof. There will be three components to it- a trainer profile that showcases qualifications and competencies and credentials. The third part is about the trainings he has taken. He can upload it with photographs. So when a corporate sees it, they can see that he has proof of doing training in the domain they are seeking expertise for. We have started a blogging system for trainers. That is the best way to communicate with prospective clients. We don't rate trainers. What we do is connect trainers with the deserving market.

Bronze Award: Kidzbyte Media Tech Pvt Ltd,


Creating Age Appropriate, Non-Curriculum Content

Kidzbyte Media Tech Pvt Ltd, Mumbai bridges the gap between text book and real- world learning combining curated kid-friendly content, news, Over the Top Service (OTT), audio and gamification on a single platform. The company intends to focus on a technology that is scalable and platform that is affordable. And register atleast 20% of the India's student base over the next five years. It now has over one lakh registered students from both rural and urban areas. There are no players dedicated to providing age-appropriate, non-curriculum content to kids. They are now exposed to content beyond their age, impacting their social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. Kidzbyte is guiding children on their quest for knowledge and empowering them to have a voice of their own.


Jury
Good idea to engage audience through gamification and quizzes. Future plans also indicate thought has gone into how to enhance value proposition to target market.

Interview/Chetan D’Souza, Founder

Chetan D’Souza

Mr Chetan has a rich experience in media communications and marketing with diverse experience in e-commerce companies, banking and finance (Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, CRISIL) and a few IT majors. He feels that most edtech players in India are focussed on curriculum-based learning or focussed on exam preparations. Children are exposed to age-inappropriate or fake content.

What is unique about your offerings?
We have created a news and knowledge platform that is age-appropriate. We believe that engaging content creates engaging learners. Our mission is child centric and we curate content which is rewritten in a way that children like it. So, our research team ensures that children understand the content, second part is that quizzes are done to evaluate the knowledge acquired and thirdly to have skill activities based on that.  Children can read, watch through Kidzbyte Tv which is a channel for students by students. It gives an opportunity for students to present interesting news and now they share it from their homes.

How to optimise screen time for children?
The focus of edu-startups is to ensure healthy screen time. If there is a mobile phone in the family you cannot escape screen time. We ensure that we create new content that requires the child to spend about 10 or 15 minutes of screen time.

The business models of Kidzbyte?
We have subscription model for schools and also for parents who can subscribe for the child. But when it comes to content, the child is the ultimate decision maker. When a child downloads an app, the chances of them actually using the app is much more than when the parents ask them to do it. How many parents download FB, Instagram or Snapchat for children? Children do it themselves or download games that are now banned.

How do you ensure that children are engaged?
We have gamified the whole experience for the child. When a child reads a news or information, there is a quiz attached to it. And once they start doing these quizzes the points accumulate and generated in a Virtual Kizbyte Piggy Bank. Then there is a leader board which shows the progress in knowledge quotient of the child. They can see the performance of the peers also.


Is your system more knowledge focussed than development of critical thinking in kids?
We provide content that is essential. Even in the segment science and discovery, we not only encourage children to learn it but understand what is today's breaking news on it around the world, or in technology. What's breaking news in sports and this enables holistic learning. We appreciate the New Educational Policy 2020 with focus on new age skills. We have the Junior Journalist program where the focus is on writing skills or Kidszbyte TV anchoring programme that provides soft skills that can be good for any child irrespective of the career paths they may choose.

Shortlisted Entries:


Pepstudy Education Pvt Ltd, Bihar
Same Class, Same Test Across India
There is a huge difference between the quality of education provided in rural and urban India. When these children compete for JEE, NEET, UPSC the performances can vary based on these differences. Pepstudy enables standardising the classroom tests across India with Artificial Intelligence enabled learning analytics for K12. The company is implementing 'Same Class, Same Test, Same Question Paper' across the country. This enables students from across the country to be assessed through a common test called the 'Pep Test'. The tests are conducted periodically three times a year and there is no additional burden on students.

Maklab Innovations, Kerala
Inexpensive Block-Based Coding Platform
Indian students lag behind peers in US, UK or China because they are consumers of information or knowledge and not makers. Makslate is a block- based coding platform and easy prototyping tool for makers, educators and learning. It consists of specially designed hardware modules and software packages. It breaks down complicated circuits into simple functional modules. Makslate is an ideal STEM classroom teaching tool. It is an ideal and economic solution for promoting early age innovations. It is powered by raspberry pi and is economically priced at Rs 15000.


Next Skills 360 Edtech Pvt Ltd, Telengana
Learning Coding without a Computer
Next Skills have developed the ProGame using a popular programming tool called Scratch. It is a kit containing card board blocks - a paper computer that costs a little over Rs 200. It helps children learn programming without a computer. A trainer can use the mobile as part of the teaching process and students need not own one. The app uses state-of-the-art Machine learning and AI techniques to detect images, text and handwriting to display the output to the students. It is made of cardboard material and therefore inexpensive.


Learning Matters Pvt Ltd, Bangalore
A Device to Teach Communicative English
Learning Matters addresses the challenge of teachers unable to use English as a medium of instruction with a technology that uses the power of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and and AI in a non-threatening, non-judgmental, scalable and user-friendly environment. The Virtual Voice Teacher programme is targeted at students from the ages of 9 to 15 years and improve teachers ability to use English as a medium of instruction in school. The device capable of recognising and rendering voice is used and it receives voice inputs from the learner and responds to it.


Schooglink Pvt Ltd, Bangalore
Affordable Hybrid Learning Model
Schooglink provides affordable quality education to 85% of rural India using a unique online-offline (O2O) hybrid smart classroom model.  In rural areas where students don't have laptop, computer or smartphone, Schooglink provides the last mile smart classroom experience. Schooglink currently deploys 95 smart classrooms across Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.The entire content is hosted on Amazon AWS and all operations of the smart classroom (attendance, content play, fees collection, teachers role) are monitored through an app. It adheres to State board syllabus in vernacular language suited for best adoption by students.

Edvizo Media Pvt Ltd, Karnataka
Making Coaching Institutes Trust Worthy
Edvizo is an authentic review-rating and a centralized online admission platform providing a seamless experience for students and parents. The students of collaborating institutes can log into the app and track their performance tests, attendance and various analytical reports. Using data visualizations, dashboards, it simplifies complex data sets to provide institutes and students/parents information regarding current performance and happenings of the institute at a glance. The platform enables students, parents to check each aspect of the coaching institute including trainer qualifications, their experience, fee details, test records, student reviews. The effort is to make coaching institutes more trust worthy and accountable.

Careerlabs Technologies Pvt Ltd, Bangalore
Improving Employability of College Grads
CareerLabs has created a profile builder platform to enable students to attain the right skills to become employable. This is done through an 8-step process where they undergo psychometric tests, cognitive and technical tests, build their CVs, get it analysed with AI recommendation engine to find the most suitable jobs, get internships, get industry relevant projects, prepare for interviews. CareerBuilder platform will solve the employability problem of college students in a frugal manner and this presents a market opportunity of Rs 8000 cr.



ExtraaEdge Technology Solutions Pvt Ltd, Pune
Data Science-based Tools for Student Acquisition
ExtraaEdge solves the problem in education sector where institutions incur heavy costs in creating brand awareness and selling courses. The new technology helps in admissions powered by Data Science. It helps institutions increase, manage and predict their admissions using the power of CRM, Marketing Automation and predictive analysis software. It is built on a SaaS based license model with an average charge of Rs 30,000 per user per year. This can be bundled with add-ons- conversational marketing tools, prediction engine, application workflows etc. The average ticket size is Rs 2,50,000

Intella Education Solutions Pvt Ltd, Delhi
STEM Learning at Affordable Cost
Intella offers a wide range of courses in STEM with courses ranging from Python programming, robotics, machine learning, application development at school level. A dedicated lab is provided to school with a full time trainer to provide 100% hands on practicals with a nominal rate of Rs 300 per student. An online learning management system (coding console) is also provided to give an enriching experience. This is the first online coding console (under development)  to provide various cinematic and gaming based coding problems .

Zaurac Consulting Pvt Ltd,Trivandrum
Cloud Based Programs for Upskilling
The company offers online training through KodeKloud, a brand developed by them in trending technologies to help students and engineers to upskill. It has engaging video lectures, hands-on labs, online certification through validation of knowledge enabling students to get jobs in leading IT firms. The monthly subscription costs only INR 499/month in India and $17.5/month abroad and provides access to the full category of premium courses and labs. The monthly subscription costs only INR 499/month in India and $17.5/month abroad and provides access to the full category of premium courses and labs.

Tutor Comp Infotech India Pvt Ltd
Effective Online Private Tutoring
Tutor Comp has launched an online whiteboard application which is user friendly and enables tutoring at home without the need to travel to tuition or coaching centres. The product was most effective in countries having private tutoring as an expensive yet necessary option. The second version of the product was launched in 2017 with enhanced technology with more features. It is useful in rural areas where it is difficult to get private tuition and in cities where there is heavy traffic and transportation issues.

Grahik Learning Pvt Ltd, Kochi
Science Through Simulations and Games
The company has developed Swadhyaya-The ScienceApp, a powerful and introspective way of learning. The learning is done through simulations, games and videos. The app uses Revised Bloom's Taxonomy as the backdrop of every single unit of learning- a method that aspires to take a learner from the lower forms of learning via memorization to the highest forms of creative and applied learning. The app was inspired by India's ancient gurukul culture and Finland's method of teaching and learning. Science App currently supports Physics and Chemistry for Grade 8, 9 and 10.

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