Many believe that the education sector is going through a paradigm shift post the coronavirus outbreak. Of course, online education and e-learning had been growing steadily in the last few years, but the pandemic led to an exponential growth in the adoption of these technologies.
Almost overnight, hordes of schools went digital and hundreds of millions of students started attending online classes and lectures.
Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, and various other video collaboration platforms are coming to the rescue of students and teachers. But COVID-19 has also opened up an all-new market for e-schools and integrated learning management systems (LMS).
Noida-based Edumarshal is one such platform making the most of this opportunity.
The edtech startup was founded in 2016 by Gaurav Kumar and Ajay Kumar, who wanted to build a reliable and cost effective e-campus solution. E-campus is the software-driven management of school administration.
Edumarshal’s proprietary ERP software can track, monitor, and manage all school-related functions, and automate painstaking manual processes to reduce inaccuracies and improve efficiencies.
Schools can manage pre-admission enquiries, student on-boarding, examinations, report grading and assessments, student history and progress tracking, school-to-parent communication, fee and finance management, library and hostel management, gate and visitor management, and more on Edumarshal.
This business was going steady, and the Noida-based startup had on-boarded 700+ schools (from pre-primary to K12) as customers. But COVID-19 presented Edumarshal with an opportunity to innovate and cater to the demands of the ‘new normal’.
Video-based LMS and live lectures
Edumarshal launched its integrated LMS platform in January just as COVID-19 was picking up speed globally. (India’s first case was reported in early February.)
The startup now allows its clients to run a virtual school through a suite of integrated tools like LMS, live lectures, online classes, content hosting through e-books, session recordings, real-time chat, online grading systems, subject-based discussion forums, student collaborations, quick access references, and more.
Co-founder and CEO Gaurav tells YourStory,
“We’d been developing this add-on product for six to eight months and went live early this year. We have tied up with 50+ schools since the lockdown began, and are expecting more conversions soon. The video-based LMS provides a seamless experience by replicating the actual classroom environment, thus ensuring continuity of students’ interest in studies.”
The platform can be accessed by students, teachers, and even parents through a state-of-the-art mobile app. Depending on their school, grade, and syllabus, students get on-the-go access to study materials, downloadable learning content, and evaluation tests. Schools will also have the option to set timetables as per the class.
Edumarshal has also uploaded all NCERT and CBSE books to the LMS, and is in the process of converting them into computer-based training (CBT) modules and interactive content. At present, the platform provides content from only Hindi and English books.
“Schools are giving us their learning modules and we are converting them into online trackable content. This will allow teachers to track each student’s progress on chapters and find out what percentage of the syllabus they are done with. All books are uploaded as part of the subscription package.”
Other ERP features on offer
Edumarshal offers 45+ modules on its software and charges customers a conventional SaaS fee, depending on the features they opt for. Schools that opt for the top-tier enterprise plan also get access to the services of a dedicated account manager.
The startup has also developed an app for parents that can track the movement of GPS-enabled school buses, manage their kids’ homework, take stock of progress reports, and access communication updates from the school.
Teachers get an AI-driven attendance marking system, single-click progress report generation, and student analytics on the app.
The platform also offers a face recognition feature that acts as students’ admit cards during online evaluation tests. Students have to log in to the test screen with their face, and cannot re-enter a test if they are logged out.
The startup believes that these features help increase the transparency and integrity of the examination process, and also allow schools to go 100 percent paperless.
The co-founder adds, “India has 1.5 million schools and 260 million students. Most management still happens offline, and these processes are done manually. The pandemic has forced teachers and students to adopt new technologies.”
Business growth and future outlook
The startup claims that it has grown 250 percent month on month since the integration of LMS and video conferencing tools in its software.
The demand is hitting north due to lockdown extensions. It is even witnessing demand from colleges and higher education institutions, claims the co-founder.
In about four years since launch, Edumarshal has seen over 1.5 lakh students and 10,000+ teachers use its platform. Its stakeholders are spread across seven countries, with significant interest from schools in South Africa and Nigeria.
Gaurav reveals, “Developing economies like Nigeria and others are seeing value in the product. Selling is a lot easier there as compared to India, where people are keen on more traditional approaches to education. While the core market for our ERP product will be India, we plan to take the LMS offering global.”
In 2019, Edumarshal raised Rs 1 crore from undisclosed angels. It also turned profitable last year, claims the co-founder without sharing specifics.
Considering the business challenges posed by COVID-19 and also the opportunities it has created, the startup projects an ARR of $8 million to $10 million by 2021. Edumarshal competes with the likes of Fedena, Entab, Google Classroom, TalentLMS, and others in a rapidly-growing edtech and e-learning ecosystem.
The sector has emerged as a hot new favourite for VCs post the pandemic. It is also threatening offline coaching centres, which could struggle to survive post COVID-19.
Gaurav sums this up: “There was a definite challenge of adoption for us, and the pandemic has really helped with that.”
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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