“Not more than 1% of schools in India offer a single subject on legal study, psychology or design. With such limited exposure to the skills required in various career options, how can we expect students to choose their career path right out of high school?,” said Ayush Bansal, cofounder of a career counselling platform iDreamCareer.
Apart from computer science or coding which has gotten significantly popular among Indian students and parents, there is hardly any other career option to which students are getting exposed during their school years. Along with the coding classes in schools, edtech platforms like WhiteHat Jr., Vedantu Kids, Toppr’s Codr and others have also contributed a great deal in exposing students to the skills required for a career in computer programming.
But what about the students choosing a non-tech job in the future? There’s seemingly no platform for the students in the age group of 13-19 years, which helps students to build or explore skills needed for non-tech careers.
Bansal told Inc42 that only 30% of school students actually go for science-based careers, the majority 70% still choose a non-science career path. Out of the 10 lakh students who sit for IIT entrance exams, about eight to nine lakh of them don’t get into these premier colleges and they don’t even take up Tier 2, Tier 3 engineering colleges. They are actually choosing to take up an alternative career path, he added.
Further, even 90% of students who crack CLAT (which is the entrance test for law colleges), are said to be science students. So, clearly there’s a huge opportunity for acquainting students to various career options.
Targeting this market opportunity, career counselling platform iDreamCareer has launched a micro-learning platform called iDX.education. Launched in July 2020, the platform hosts around five non-tech career focused courses led by working professionals. Some of the courses launched on the platform include young economists program, young entrepreneur program, and solving problems with design thinking among others.
“Our thought was that the best thing to do, while choosing a career, is to get exposed to the required skills in a career field and then take a decision whether a particular skill is of one’s interest or not,” said Bansal.
If a person is into video editing, or YouTube content creation. They know that it is not just the glamour, there is a lot of analytical work that needs to be done behind producing and running a youtube channel. But students, at this young age, are not aware of these behind the scene aspects. And that’s where the idea of creating a micro learning platform, said Bansal.
He argued that while there are skilling and upskilling courses available on MOOC platforms like Coursera or Udemy, none of these are tailored to the needs of young school students. While iDreamCareer does not claim to make students experts, Bansal said the idea is to help them make an informed career choice.
On iDX.education, courses are generally designed to be a 8 hours-15 hours time investment for students, rather than month-long programmes. Currently, the courses are only being offered through live sessions taken by the trainer in a batch of 15-40 students, with a new batch starting every month.
Turning Industry Professionals Into Trainers
The platform is built on a marketplace model, wherein any industry professional can apply to launch a course and earn 40% of what the company makes on each batch. For live classes, courses are priced between INR 4K to INR 8K and around INR 1K for recorded courses (which are yet to be launched). The ideal batch size on the platform is planned to be between 15 to 40 students.
So for a batch size of 15 students and a fee of INR 4K per student, trainers stand to earn about INR 60K a month in return of 8-15 hours of monthly time commitment.
The trainers are responsible for development and creation of the course content and delivery. While the company manages the entire tech and sales part of the course. For selection of these industry trainers, there are three major criterias: the trainer should have five to 10 years of professional experience in the skill that they want to start a course Second, they should have excellent academic and professional background and third is that they should be passionate about teaching.
According to Bansal, 180 trainers have applied to launch a course on the platform, out of which only 15 were selected. Which means the selection rate is about 8% at this point.
To ensure this quality in their trainers, iDX.education requires trainers to fill in an interest form, a course template where they describe the entire course content, and share a recorded demo class. Also, there will be only one course in a particular career stream to ensure that there is no confusion on which course to choose, as it happens with platforms like Udemy.
The company also plans to integrate these courses on a learning app which will take a small psychometric test of students to show them tailored course suggestions. The learning app will also help the company to enable peer-learning among its students. “The app will allow students to connect with other students in their batch, exchange notes, and also connect with the trainer through the chatting functionality,” said Bansal.
Tapping The Existing Network Of Career Counsellors
The company claims to have not started marketing the product aggressively because they are still testing the product. However, Bansal noted there are three major user acquisition channels for iDX.education which includes their existing private school partnerships, referrals from their 1100-member strong career counselor network, and paid social media marketing.
Out of these, the affiliate program among the career counsellors network is said to have worked best for the company. “As of now, 60% of the paid customers have come through affiliate programs and close to 25% from the school network and the rest 15% from social media,” said Bansal.
The company claims to have worked with 15.1 Mn students and 72.5K schools including 10 state government schools along with top ranked private schools in the country. iDC’s has raised funding from a clutch of investors including Gray Matters Capital, ah! Ventures, Mohit Satyanand, Neeraj Gambhir, and Times Group’s Brand Capital among others.
Founded in 2013 by Bansal and Pravesh Dudani(exited the company in 2017), iDreamCareer flagship product psychometric assessment tool helps in mapping students’ abilities, personality traits and their area of interest. Further, they have also built a career planner tool that helps in aligning students potential with suitable career options.
Last year, iDreamCareer reported a 3.3x growth in their operational revenue in FY2019 and an EBITDA margin of 15%. Moving forward, the company is said to be on track to touch about $2 Mn annual turnover in FY 2021 and has been net profitable for the past three financial years.
With this new micro-learning platform, Bansal estimated iDreamCareer to generate a potential revenue of INR 30K to INR 40K from one student in a year. This estimation is based on the fact that out of the current 100 paid users, five students have enrolled in more than one course and in a large user base, he expects students to eventually enroll in about five to six courses in a year.
Overall, the edtech sector is quite saturated with players like BYJU’S, Unacademy, Vedantu raising huge amounts of capital. The huge market cap of these platforms has made the sales team of these companies as de-facto career counsellors for Indian students and parents.
Career counselling is a rare focus area among edtech companies, and also in the Indian education system. It’s often limited to only premiere private schools in metro cities. In absence of an official counsellor to fall back, often the sales staff of edtech companies like BYJU’S, Vedantu have become the de-facto career counsellors for Indian students and parents in remote cities. But this does not do away the need for a system to enable informed career decisions for Indian students. Will iDreamCareer finally prove that counselling is not only a viable model for edtech investors, but also a key success factor for students?
Correction Note | 18:54, Sept 3, 2020
- The launch month of iDX.education was changed from June 2020 to July 2020
- Some sections of this article have been edited post-publishing to fix typographical errors and improve clarity of language