Until four or five years ago, startups in the online education sector were staring at one question — could private tuitions and coaching classes go digital?
While the massive and — largely unorganised — tutoring industry servicing 150-200 million students every year was ripe for disruption, changing mindsets of teachers who were doing brisk business through offline setups was a Herculean task.
Come 2020 and going digital would no longer be a question of if but when.
As COVID-19 interrupted offline education, lakhs of private tutors and offline coaching centres across India were either staring at a bleak future or scouting for ways to go digital almost overnight.
As a result, B2B edtech startups that were building solutions for this segment went from nearly nothing to high-growth rocket ships in just a few months.
Bengaluru-based Winuall is one such operator.
Founded in 2019 by former Facebook executive Ashwini Purohit, Winuall offers a SaaS-based plug-and-play solution that enables private tutors and offline coaching centres to go online with minimal friction. The subscription-based offering lets them create, market, and teach courses by setting up their own brand on the platform.
Founder-CEO Ashwini tells YourStory,
“With a sudden shift to online learning due to the pandemic, Winuall is enabling tutors to become fully digitised by providing tools and an all-in-one platform that helps them create a community of learners.”
As the platform started gaining traction post the lockdown, Winuall went on to raise three rounds of funding to scale up its technology and operations. It also roped in ex-BCG consultant Saurabh Vyas as its co-founder in November 2020.
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What the plug-and-play tool solves
Winuall offers tutors, coaches, and all kinds of educators and trainers a quick, easy-to-use platform with features like class scheduling, batch management, attendance, live classes, doubt-solving sessions, online quizzes, fee collection, AI-based recommendations to sell courses to the right set of students, and more.
Essentially, the startup solves three pain points at the educators’ end.
“We spoke to a lot of small and medium sized coaching centres and tutors and found that they faced similar problems with managing students, collecting payments, and providing a personalised learning experience. While the offline tutoring system was very successful, it was standardised and inefficient. Teachers had no visibility on the learning journeys of their students.”
Winuall’s tech-based tutoring platform made the entire process from student onboarding to content delivery, and creation of customised learning paths entirely seamless for its customers. Each educator was given a white-label app, which they used to build their own brand and acquire students. “We are expanding horizontally and enabling educators to become edupreneurs,” says the founder.
Add to that, the startup also helped educators grow their business beyond localities.
Ashwini explains, “Most tutoring setups do not have the infrastructure or capital to expand beyond a certain geography. But once they went digital, they were able to reach students in all locations, including in international markets, and improve engagement. That helped us gain tutor trust, which led to our rapid growth.”
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The growth story in numbers
Since the pandemic, Winuall has seen a massive increase in live class hours, delivering over 1.2 billion minutes of learning through its platform.
It has digitised 100,000+ tutors and reached over 1.5 million students in the last 15 months. About 80 percent of its tutor base comes from Tier II and III cities.
“Almost 90 percent of our growth has happened after the pandemic,” Ashwini reveals. “Our product is now available in multiple Indian languages. We’ve also added voice-to-text features that allow teachers to create content on the go.”
Earlier this year, the startup launched a content marketplace on top of its SaaS-based offering. It already lists 18,000+ courses created by educators themselves.
From NEET, IIT-JEE, recruitment, coding, data science, stock trading, and crypto to music, dance, baking, photography, fashion designing, astrology, yoga, and personality development — educators are selling all kinds of academic and vocational courses.
“The courses are scaling horizontally, and the content marketplace has expanded our TAM. People have adopted online learning patterns and are ready to pay $50-100 per course. This was unimaginable pre-COVID-19.”
Winuall aims to digitise 500,000+ educators and serve five million students by the end of 2021. It will also scale up its content marketplace to include 100,000+ courses.
Besides the subscription fee paid by tutors, the startup earns a transaction fee off its marketplace and a demand generation fee from course creators. It claims monthly revenues are growing at 50-55 percent, and will hit an ARR of $10 million by 2022.
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Creating vertical and horizontal impact
In the last one year, Winuall has impacted offline tutoring setups across the length and breadth of India, tailoring its solution to the specific needs of customers.
It helped Class Apart Classes in Jammu run smoothly on a 2G network after the internet blackout in the region last year.
From enabling offline content delivery to low-bandwidth communication, it helped Class Apart Classes to not only go digital, but also scale beyond Jammu to other places.
Kota-based Sugam Classes, which is run by a veteran teacher, could grow its business 3X and get students from seven countries after going digital via Winuall.
Curves Designer Academy, which runs tailoring and designing courses for homemakers, has empowered more than 100 women through its self-branded app built on top of the Winuall platform, and helped them generate income.
Crypto Marathi signed up on Winuall to start courses on cryptocurrency and blockchain in Marathi to cater to local learners.
“With their unique approach to start complex courses in their native language Marathi, they are selling hundreds of courses and creating a huge impact by educating people,” reveals the founder.
Nitin Gupta, an angel investor in Winuall, says, “What it is building is precisely what the ecosystem needs – improving in-class learning through tech and AI. They can help all coachings irrespective of their size and segment, and boost their brand by shining the spotlight on teachers rather than on technology.”
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Funding and future roadmap
Winuall raised three rounds of funding last year.
In May, it raised an undisclosed amount from Ankit Bhati, Co-founder of Ola , Nitin Gupta, Head of Engineering, MilkBasket , and other angel investors.
In August, it further raised $783,000 led by Ramakant Sharma, Cofounder of Livspace and Amit Lakhotia, Co-founder of Park+, Akash Gehani, Co-founder of Instamojo, and other angels.
In October, it raised a seed round of $2.6 million led by Prime Venture Partners and BEENEXT, and existing angels. The funds will be used to hire across product, technology, AI, and business development roles. Winuall will also scale up its platform offering to reach more small and medium coaching institutes.
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Shripati Acharya, Managing Partner, Prime Venture Partners, said at the time of funding, “The tutoring market is at a significant inflexion point, and a lot of tutors want to manage their own student interactions and develop an independent identity. Winuall is facilitating this, and providing them with content and performance improvement recommendations using AI.”
“It has an outstanding team with passionate founders who have a deep understanding of the education space,” he added.
Over 2.5 million local tutors in the K-12 segment alone have to be digitised by then. Add to that, Winuall’s expanding online courses marketplace has the potential to reach international customers.
Ashwini sums up by saying, “Our aim is to help educators build their own edtech company. The journey is just one percent finished.”
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta