Gradeup is an Indian online exam preparation platform catering to aspirants preparing for a bouquet of competitive examinations including JEE, NEET, GATE, Banking, SSC, Teaching, Defence, UPSC, UGC-Net, CAT among various others. Through the website and app, Gradeup helps more than 1.4 crore registered students across 2500 cities in the country to prepare smart and score better.
Established in 2015 by ShobhitBhatnagar, Vibhu Bhushan and Sanjeev Kumar who mapped their own experiences to chart out the most efficient & effective methods of preparing for competitive examinations, Gradeup is determined to be the most comprehensive and effective exam preparation platform for students in India. Hence the focus remains on continuously adding more exam categories and introducing products to make preparation more effective.
In an exclusive interview with stoodnt.com, the trio shared details of the platform and also about the future plans –
A selected excerpt –
What was the idea behind launching Gradeup?
Gradeup was established in 2015 to tackle the unique problem of high competition within the sphere of competitive exam preparation in India. With a success rate as low as 0.08% amongst the 12 lakh students appearing annually for UPSC exams alone, taking other categories of competitive exams and repeat candidates into account presents a clear picture of the 3 crore+ students. For a majority of these students, exam preparation is the holy grail of cracking their exams to cut through the competition and fulfil their aspirations for the future.
Over the years, this great demand led to thousands of coaching centres coming up across major cities and hubs in the country.But these didn’t fully account for those students that are based out of smaller towns and remote areas. This is where Ed-tech platforms came to the rescue – but only partly – as they addressed the problem of accessibility and costs, but not that of effective preparation. How so? Well, because most online platforms were simply using recorded lectures and other offline content uploaded onto their websites. There was no major differentiator for students as the only difference was a sort of ‘digital copy’ of what they could read from their books or see in any class across the numerous options available offline. The factor of engagement was missing to a large extent.
Competitive exams hold a ‘make or break’ factor for students in their lives, and that is where we at Gradeup have derived our statement of purpose – To help students prepare effectively in order to score better in their exams.The fact is that, for any online platform to enable efficacy of learning outcomes, engagement is key. Additionally, there was a need for the content to be tailored specifically to the needs of Indian aspirants. This is where we come in, and stand out from the crowd of options. Our main focus is to make exam preparation extremely effective for Indian students.
In order to achieve this, we move forward with our belief that the best preparation is achieved when students prepare together through raising doubts, questions and helping each other. Gradeup is, thus, built around a strong community of students and expert mentors who carry this out through a systematic and structured approach with a strong methodological framework. By actively preparing every day through a day-wise study plan, students are able to make continuous progress and effectively pave their way to success.
What does Gradeup do differently?
Gradeup is amongst the pioneering platforms in India’s Ed-tech space. We have been able to tap into the potential of peer-to-peer learning and, through it, have built an advanced academic community. Our users across categories have reported a significant improvement in their preparation through their interactions with both students and our expert faculty. We have multiple mechanisms in place to assess the quality of each answer and, with this around 95% of doubt-solving is achieved through peer-to-peer inputs and answers.
With student inputs, there has also been a great impact on the filtering of material where they can help each other by suggesting the best resource material, avoid studying irrelevant topics and guide each other to useful information.
Our major offering, ‘Gradeup Classroom’, presents students with a virtual classroom experience. This includes interactive online Live classes, mock tests with live analysis and individual mentorship. Our Live classes have proven to be 4X more engaging than recorded lessons, helping students retain more of the subject matter, thus keeping them invested and motivated for the entire duration of the course.
We have also taken the initiative to ensure that interested parents can actively be a part of their children’s educational journey through online parent-teacher meetings. With this, they receive regular updates on the students’ progress, enabling them to create an environment to further facilitate better preparation. Getting an insight into the parents’ perspectives serves a dual purpose, that of helping us with decision-making and to educate them about the legitimacy of virtual learning.
With the three pillars of technology, community learning and active preparation by way of innovative offerings such as our virtual classroom and methodological approach, we have gained the trust of students and parents alike. This has made us a frontrunner in terms of being the most effective preparation platform for competitive exams today.
What does it take to be an edu-preneur in India today?
Being an edu-preneur, especially as a new entrant in an increasingly competitive market, takes exceptional research and development to ensure superior quality and volume of content that appeals to the target audience, in this case, the students. It involves testing content through multiple processes, scaling up in a strategic manner and quality-checks at every possible level.
For us at Gradeup, beginning from scratch meant that we initially faced the challenge of building the trust of our consumers. Given that Gradeup’s Co-Founders are from a Product and Tech background, we had an advantage in terms of building a strong product and platform. However, it was through working with the best teachers over the last few years that we were truly able to understand content development and how to deliver it in the most effective way.
Working with the right people was a key factor in making the enterprise what it is today, catering seamlessly to the needs of millions of users. It took time and effort to find the right teachers and mentors and hire the best faculty. Additionally, building a platform of this scale required a strong focus on continuously improving and building tech bandwidth. We did this by developing a robust framework based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and data that enable us to gain valuable insights and make adjustments and improvements accordingly.
These factors are what have helped us in our journey, enabling us to effectively meet the needs of students preparing for competitive exams. As a result, they have witnessed improvements in their scores and gained confidence in Gradeup’s offerings, which is reflected in the 14+ million registered users we have today.
What are Live Classes? How was the idea generated?
While the rise of Ed-tech platforms over the last few years meant greater access to, and affordability of education for students across the country, we at Gradeup gauged a persisting need-gap in terms of engagement. Through our research, we found that there was a significant gap in the active usage and consumption of online content amongst students.
This could be attributed to the large volume of offline content such as recorded videos and notes that most platforms were uploading, leaving students to prepare with them by themselves. This was basically almost as good as having the same content offline, and is the same reason why so many courses are abandoned mid-way by students. Additionally, it also meant students weren’t retaining as much of what they have gone through, a factor that is particularly challenging in terms of competitive exams with the sheer volume of subject matter and approaches.
With this, we decided to launch online Live classes, which give students access to a virtual classroom environment from the comfort of their homes. Live classes constitute several elements that are needed for effective preparation, including the continuous evaluation and supervised navigation of the course material by expert faculty. This is done through the lectures, notes and tests, all of which fall within a structured day-wise study plan that is prepared and given to each student in advance.
Additionally, with our 24×7 mentor support via chat, students can solve doubts anywhere and anytime – eliminating the need for them to wait for the next lecture and keeping their preparation on track.During the Live lectures, they are presented with an open forum to discuss course content and related subject matter. This helps students learn from each other’s questions and doubts in real-time. With all these factors combined, a large number of students are choosing online Live classes as their go-to method for competitive exam preparation.
Where do you see Gradeup in next five years?
At present, Gradeup has a paid user base of 2.5 lakhs, as well as 3.5 lakh unique transactions. We have over 25 lakh monthly average users (MAU) and 4 lakh + daily average users (DAU). By the end of the current financial year, in addition to closing 30 crores in revenue, we are targeting an MAU of 5 million and a transactional user base of 5 lakhs.
We have also witnessed a great increase in the enrolments to ‘Gradeup Classroom’, with Live classes in particular, which have been growing 2X every quarter. We expect the number of students enrolled for Live classes to touch 60,000 by the end of FY 2019-20. Within the bigger picture, even with decades of experience, some of the oldest and largest education brands in the offline tutoring space teach an average of 1-2.5 lakh students per year. As we continue to grow our offerings and expand to new categories, we are certain Gradeup will be able to meet, as well as surpass that milestone in a relatively short period of time.