Online teaching has been denounced for aeons citing problems such as quality and inconsistency of training methodologies. Online teaching and its propagation were stunted due to reluctance of the traditional classroom experts. This ultimately led to only a few privileged people getting access to online teaching. There was a dire need of educating students through affordable hyper-personalized training programs in every corner of the country.
Rohit Jain and Anirudh Swarnkar, co-founders of ufaber, addressed this problem. ufaber was launched in 2014 by them.
ufaber offers courses in life-changing and transformational domains like IELTS & PTE, UPSC, GATE and English Communication. Their customized education solutions for students, professionals, corporations, and colleges are geared towards achieving excellence and high power performance.
About the founders
The founding partners, Rohit Jain and Anirudh Swarnkar have excelled in the edu-tech fields before ufaber. Both of them are IIT-Bombay alumni.
Rohit’s expertise transformed Mexus Education into a leading K12 education company. He has started various trends in the edu-tech field, which includes design labs, smart classes, game-based learning. His exposure to various roles made him dominate the areas of e-commerce, franchise sales, marketing, product development, and team building. Rohit also excels in the field of product development and sales strategies.
Anirudh has handled various roles in the fields of designing curriculum, learning centers, workshops, curriculum development, and SCPs. Anirudh shows his creative side through his love for children’s books, toys, and educational games. Anirudh has had a career spanning across 13 years in the education and technology sector.
Below are the excerpts of our interview with Rohit Jain and Anirudh Swarnkar, co-founders of ufaber.
Q.: Please share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem.
Ans: Most of the institutes have a classroom model of teaching with students that have different learning styles and pace. The amount of time these students invest in studying also varies.
Hence, the classroom models fail to solve the purpose of teaching and that is why we see students going for home tuitions, private tuitions, etc. Most of the students are not self-learners. These models are best suitable for students who are extremely self-motivated and good self-learners, which sums up to just 10% of the entire class strength. This was the problem we wanted to solve, where there is just not a handful of students scoring good marks but we want each student from the entire batch to score well. Success stories that we hear from the classroom models are from these top 10%. What about the rest of the 90% who are mediocre? This 10 % of students would have anyway faired well.
We wanted to address the challenges of the rest of the 90% of students who were not a good fit in a classroom model of teaching. That is where we wanted to create a difference.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: We are catering to those people who struggle to cope with the Mass Education process of learning, who live in remote areas, who do not have access to good teachers/trainers or study material. Another important aspect is the commuting. Travelling to and fro to the training institute is a sheer waste of time. Our aim to fit this category of students in our model of good training. Our approach ensures reducing the time and money for travel, and minimise the gap between the trainer and student using technology. The exams for which students prepare are life-altering exams, be it a UPSC or IELTS. They are result-oriented and need targeted efforts. Our focus is to provide one on one classes with targeted efforts on helping students excel in these exams. Also, corporate people with good targeted efforts, wanting to reshape their communication skills can also benefit from the platform.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: An approach which is student-oriented while also giving hyper-personalised training is what sets ufaber apart from all its competitors. A thorough analysis of each and every student’s competency enables ufaber to design his or her hyper-personalized study plans.
The first step towards effective learning is the perfect pairing of student and trainer. Learning is delivered through live interactive video sessions, which gives a highly result-oriented output. The trainers ensure dedicated support and personal mentorship while strictly adhering to the study plans. Periodic assessments and evaluation sessions are organized to know the grasping power and understanding of the student. Moreover, ufaber provides students with a repository of knowledge through a well-equipped library of video content available on-demand.
Another striking USP of ufaber is its approach towards accredit trainers. The eMaester program was conceptualized to tap and utilize the hidden and under-represented talents of passionate educators across the world. ufaber teaches them the systems and content to enable them to help thousands of students achieve their goals. They also offer guaranteed employment post completion of training from the comfort of one’s own home.
The eMaester program has ensured favourable circumstances to the educated unemployed workforce with an opportunity for economic gain within the comfort of their home, who before were constrained from seeking active jobs due to personal or family constraints. Interestingly, eMaester has opened a treasure trove of opportunities to the fairer sex from Tier-II cities who today constitute the majority of the trainers ufaber has. This program encourages women coming from critical circumstances to become a certified trainer and come onboard with ufaber to educate students depending on their teaching capabilities, bandwidth to work during the day and interests, ensuring financial independence.
All the USPs are cohesive in nature that work towards the common goal of giving standard education to all learners.
Q.: A shortcoming leading to one the biggest learning for us.
Ans: In the first two years of our inception, we started chasing more short term goals with smaller targets. We witnessed a promising trajectory when our goals shifted to bigger numbers. In hindsight, we can confidently say that it was the biggest learning as founders – one has to chase bigger numbers, always. Although, a founder’s effort required in the process pretty much remains the same.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
Ans: Majority of our learners are from lower-middle-class or middle-class levels of society, looking for one-on-one training at flexible timings, hence we give premium service at affordable pricing without any hidden or over-and-above costs. Our model encourages our prospective students to take a free demo/session to understand the know-how of the platform. This helps them in taking an informed decision as they are conscious about spending their money at the same time looking for premium quality training as well.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: Through word of mouth and Facebook.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: ufaber has raised in the tune of 3 crores between 2013 and 2015, from Individuals, friends, and family.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: A few success stories are mentioned below:
1) Prashant Ranjan, Patna: Being in the media profession since the past 20 years it was at times required for me to interact with the journalists from English dailies. That was the time, I found myself lacking in english communications. Initially, I was sceptical about taking a course in English through online platforms, however, my perception about online education was completely changed by ufaber. Within this short span of 3 months, my fundamentals of the language improved and were strengthened on all four fronts namely- reading, writing, speaking and listening. The group discussion and the master class sessions were instrumental in erasing my fumbling tendencies during public speaking, which I used to have before I enrolled with ufaber. Extremely supportive trainers from ufaber, have helped me regain my confidence as an individual.
2) Soni, Gujarat: Conversing with somebody or speaking in front of multiple people in English was no less than a nightmare for me. I started feeling neglected out of many social groups and was going through an inferiority complex. That is when I decided to improve my communication skills and ufaber came to me as a boon. I came to know about ufaber from Facebook. I enrolled myself in the Perfect English course which was broken into 3 stages namely preliminary, elementary and advanced. Post that, joining the IELTS training course my basics of the language were improved. Regular comprehensive exercises pulled me out of the fear, that once I had about English. With extremely supportive trainers, my confidence started building up and I felt empowered and all set to gear up to get a good score in IELTS.
Q.: What is the bigger picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Our next step is to achieve a goal of 10000+ trainers on the platform in the next 2 years, while each of the trainer we will have 1000 hours of one-on-one training. ufaber aims to have 6 Lakh students in one year.
The platform helps in meeting goals of life-altering exams. For example, IELTS and PTE that helps you move abroad. UPSC that helps you become the next IAS officer. Real School which aids with life-skills of the future that schools fail to provide, etc,. ufaber’s focus remains in transforming lives of such aspiring learners and change their life radical.
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture?
- Turnover: We are currently on track to clock 20 crores Financial year 2019-20
- Registered learners:10 Lakhs+
- Paid customers: 30,000+
- Trainers: 1200+
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: We consider most of the local offline players as our competitors. However, we have superior content, conceptualised curriculum, one-on-one training, the flexibility of time and place, graded teachers, remarkable transformation and testimonials. ufaber is also better suited for large-scale batches, especially for the corporate audience. In comparison with Byju’s, our model offers one-on-one training and guaranteed results. When we measure ourselves with Unacademy, we offer better content and pedagogy with personal mentorship.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Nurture talent! The greatest investment you can make is in people.
Thanks Rohit and Anirudh. Best wishes!