Learning by using ‘internet’ is a double-edged sword to be used skilfully: Chandraprakash Joshi, Co-founder, ixamBee
ixamBee provides the best in class technology-based learning solutions for competitive exams to groom the new generation of smart learners. It optimises learning by offering easy learning material like mock test, online test series, online practice test, and speed test series to help students prepare for banking & insurance exams, exams conducted by SSC, exams by Railways, Teaching exams and various government and other exams in the most comprehensive way possible. Here in a conversation with the co-founder brings light on the fact how providing education online is quite an upgrade for those who seek it.
Q. Giving education on the fingertips of students is the millennial way of doing things. What are your thoughts on this?
Mr. Joshi: When I was a kid, I used to see elderly people doing all calculation on their fingertips because they remembered tables by heart. Time has taken a U-turn and now millennials have everything on their fingertip- food, travel or learning. However, still, when millennials have to appear in an exam they are also required to perform without the mobile phone. The ubiquitous reach of the smartphone is a great enabler for reducing information asymmetry, however, it has also created information overload. At times, useless information and everyone becoming an educator results in a waste of time. Therefore, learning using internet is a double-edged sword to be used skillfully.
Q. How did the idea of ixamBee came into existence?
Mr. Joshi: I hail from hills of Uttarakhand and have done my entire schooling in a village. Working with RBI and YES Bank, I have closely worked with customers from small towns. In all these years, I experienced that quality education is not available for students living in small towns while parents are funding the education of their kids even by borrowing money.
The idea of online education occurred to me during my travel to villages in Odisha in a SHG (Self Help Group) meeting. I observed that these SHG members use microfinance loans for funding education of their children. In another interaction, I learned that rural people were buying online and the items were being delivered by the India Post. Unavailability of the quality education in small towns and people’s willingness to pay for education makes a huge business opportunity as more than two-thirds of the 300 million students in India live outside big cities.
To create a firm plan, I discussed the idea of online education with my friends working in internet companies like Google and Facebook and realizing the existing online traffic the idea got stronger. I met another co-founder Arunima, who started Stratagem-a coaching institute for competitive exams, in 2010 after quitting her job with SIDBI. In my search for a tech co-founder, I met Sandeep through my friends in Gurgaon and in the first meeting, I got impressed with his experience in the start-up space. Sandeep was part of the core tech team of MakeMyTrip and has worked with the founding team of MakeMyTrip for the initial six years. Sandeep also co-founded Babyhugz.com, an e-commerce platform for baby products.
We three realized that we bring complementary skills – Arunima is a passionate teacher, Sandeep a Tech-wiz and I come from business development and senior leadership work experience. We met in September 2016 and incorporated ixamBee in December 2016 and the website was launched in April 2017.
I am glad to share that in the last three years ixamBee has grown rapidly because of our focus on the students’ learning. We have 900k registered users and 0.5 million users visiting our website on a monthly basis.
Q. Coming from a banking sector and having years of experience in finance, you have now moved to a different field. Has this role shift affected you in any manner?
Mr. Joshi: Yes, I have learned a lot of new things. Despite having more than a decade of experience in the banking industry I ventured into online learning because both banking and education are service sectors. In my previous roles also, I have worked on product, processes and team building for providing the best quality experience. After starting ixamBee, I learned about technology, pedagogy, internet industry and innovations. This is just the beginning. The best part is my pace of learning and implementing it is becoming better day by day. From my early school days, I have a very keen interest in physics and now building a tech platform, I feel I am closer to my core.
Q. How do you think online learning can add value to our traditionally existing education system?
Mr. Joshi: In the traditional education system, there is a lot of asymmetry; Some who get a dedicated teacher are lucky while most are deprived of quality education. Three major benefits of online learning over traditional education system are:
- Online learning extends the reach of a teacher from a few hundred students to millions of students. It creates a scope of super specialization. Say for example in a typical government school one science teacher teaches Biology, Physics and Chemistry up to class 10th as there are limited students in a school. While for similar courses online, there can be a separate teacher for organic chemistry, zoology, botany, thermodynamics, optics, etc.
- Online learning can flip the classroom. Instead of a teacher repeating the same lecture multiple times in different classes and term after term, recorded videos shall be watched by the students before they come to the class this is a kind of homework for them. Then teachers’ time in the class can be better used for solving students’ doubts which effectively personalizes the learning experience. Further, using technology personalized learning experience is created by identifying the learning gap and creating learning recommendations.
- This makes quality learning accessible to a large number of students across economic and geographic boundaries. Online education is affordable, convenient and keeps high-quality standards.
Q. How are you planning on expanding your firm’s base in the upcoming time?
Mr. Joshi: In the last 2.5 years, we have worked for building the platform and processes for making online learning effective. Now we are planning to grow rapidly by launching more courses. We are covering more number of competitive exams for banking and central government jobs. In a few months, we are touching a registered user base of 1 million users. ixamBee is the only platform that provides free mock tests for 50 plus exams. 370 million questions have been attempted on our website and the engagement is increasing. We are growing our reach by increasing the number of exams covered. In the coming quarters, we will start covering state level exams also. In the next two years, we plan to reach 5 million students. The organic traffic and word to mouth publicity of the existing users are helping us to grow faster.