MillionCenters is a Delhi-based Startup specialising in improving technology related to learning and education. They have developed an innovative app (android & iOS) that links eager learners to nearby educators and learning centres. Although the business began in 2014, the firm introduced the Millioncenters App in July 2019. Capt Surinder Singh is the company’s managing partner. Apart from him, the company includes four other founders and many strategic partners and angel investors.

Captain Surinder Singh, Managing Partner, Better Thought Solutions LLP.
Captain Surinder Singh, Managing Partner, Better Thought Solutions LLP.

About the founders
Captain Surinder Singh is an ex-officer of the Indian Army with extensive experience across different sectors and verticals of various industries. Captain Surinder, based in Delhi, India, brings together over four decades of cumulative work experience, expertise and skills covering a wide range of verticals; such as mentorship and leadership, strategic planning, creative concepts, human resources development, sales, infrastructure management and training. We are publishing an interview with Captain Surinder Singh:

Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Ans:
We strive to transform the multi-billion-dollar teaching industry, although centred around academics, pays much less attention to other sections like fitness, arts, music, dance, language, etc. With the introduction of technology, a significant focus has been placed on digital/online teaching. Enormous sums are being invested in new tech start-ups in the section of recorded online courses, making it difficult for real-life coaches, tutors and trainers to compete with such organisations. We strive to provide a platform for real-life teachers and trainers to leverage technology to aid their growth. While at the same moment we think that true learning mainly occurs in social organizations, otherwise, why else would IITs and IIMs be appreciated so much.

Furthermore, we have identified 2 sets of primary users for our platform; which is constructed to bridge the existing gap between learning and teaching.

Tutors/Trainers or Centre Owners:

  • Centres have low marketing budgets, leading to ineffective campaigns
  • Majority procedures are manual. Hence, records and documents are maintained in notebooks leading to poor bookkeeping
  • Management is driven by people, thus restricting the ability to grow and expand
  • No tools and instruments to measure and improve marketing and processing activities
  • Competition from other online websites

For Learners & Parents:

  • Parents and students often rely on the common sentiment before making any decisions
  • Parents/Learners find it hard to look for excellent learning centres which are nearby
  • Centres often lack professional strategy owing to the absence of systems and processes
  • Services Quality is always poor as there is no feedback or grievance redressal mechanism

Q.: Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans:
The segments that we cover, encompasses multi-billion-dollar industries and there is no ‘one-stop solution’ for them. Today we see millennials with multiple learning requirements, school-going children are involved in sports, dance, creative drama, and so on in addition to academics while working professionals invest in health & fitness along with professional learning & growth. Seeing that the need for learning is evolving and that more disciplined and improved cognitive learning occurs only in social groups or in classrooms, we believe that we will generate thousands of full-time and part-time experts who will coach in the areas of tuition, yoga, fitness, art, music, digital marketing, and so on.

Sharing some statistics on industrial outlook, The Indian online education market, currently worth $247 million, is on a growth spree and is expected to experience an 8-fold development over the next 5 years to attain the $2 billion growth benchmark by 2021, as mentioned by Google and KPMG in a joint study last year.

India’s fitness sector is worth $1.1 billion and is anticipated to exceed $1.1 billion by 2017. In fact, the government has provided the industry momentum by recognizing “Wellness” as one of the key industries in its campaign for Make in India.

Even the slimming services segment has risen at a pace of 20–25 per cent in 2012, according to a study by PriceWaterCoopers. The sports sector, in just five years, has risen from $1.3 billion to $2.7 billion. And in my mind, this journey has just begun. Sports still accounts for 0.1% of our GDP, while the sector worldwide accounts for around 0.5% of GDP.

Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans:
Based on our hypothesis of the existing gap of searching and actually finding an excellent learning centre, we performed land and digital surveys. Surveys would help us to understand how learners experience the entire journey of discovering a learning centre close to their home. The surveys would also show how parents and learners would visit and trust the data submitted to them, this would be the foundation for choosing the centre and the coach. The method seemed quite unstructured and tedious, with learners relying on Google searches, FB organizations, magazines, leaflets, and word of mouth.

Therefore, it often delays enrollment or delays the process to locate and join the centre. In addition, they often face problems with the quality of service and communication. Most of the interaction about attendance, schedule, homework and fee payment is manual making the process slow and ineffective.

On the other hand, we have conducted groud surveys with different centres discovering the difficulties they face in terms of marketing, leadership development and digital adoption. That’s what confirmed our knowledge of the gap and we strategically pursued into the development of MillionCenters that would function as a distinctive social platform for connecting thousands of consumers to learn an art or follow their passion. MillionCenters bridges the gap between learners and tutors/trainers. It enables individuals to find the finest hobby courses, tuition centres, coaching institutes and trainers around them and allows seamless connection with them.

MillionCentres provides a platform for all alternative fields like Yoga, Tuitions, Fitness, Dance, Music and Art and Craft. MillionCentres enables individual centres to promote themselves on social media, to move to digital technology from the traditional methods for marketing. MC is helping small and individual teachers to generate more business and income. It has also become easier for parents and students to find suitable teachers or coaching institutes near them.

Q.: What is your USP?
Ans:
MillionCentres has designed a very simple and user friendly application and website. The online platform helps customers to choose the best, verified and trusted centre. Alternative learning like dance, art, crafts, and language classes is a big industry but they lack in the technological aspect. MC wants to bridge this gap by providing  technological infrastructure. They provide everything, right from discovery of different centres to improvement of quality of teaching and quality of service. Furthermore, they provide tools to centres to manage their daily affairs like scheduling classes, posting of assignments, tests etc. For learners and parents, MC makes it easier to stay connected, to monitor the progress and keeps them updated of the daily classes. 

MillionCentres will become a one-stop solution for individuals looking for alternative learning experiences. There are over 30 categories in which teachers can list themselves, namely, academics, adventures, sports, music, martial arts, cookery, dance, yoga, spiritual, playschool, photography, arts, fitness, playschool, etc. This makes MillionCentres the preferred choice of learners/parents to find the best and verified centres for themselves or their children.

Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Do you have at least one of them signed up?
Ans:
We have more than 6000 centres in Delhi NCR on board. After our successful launch and effecient paid promotion, we have registered many paid customers.

Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans:
No failures, its a daily cycle of learning and improving. And like any other job, I repeat the cycle of learning and improving.

Q.: How are you pricing the Product? Explain your thought process.
Ans:
Listing is completely free, some advanced modules are on Freemium mode and others are Premium services.

Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans:
We started getting organic listings on the website, and through that we tapped our first set of customers.

Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans:
The venture has been bootstrapped and considering the traction we are getting, we should be able to make Opex breakeven in next 3 months.

Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans:
We aim to be the next Uber or Airbnb of the Global Learning sector.

Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? What is the current turnover? (From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/enquiries and enrollment). Please explain in details:
Ans:
More than 8000 listings with 6000 listing in Delhi NCR itself, covering more than 30 categories and 270 sub-categories that can easily found on our platform.

Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans:
In the learning sector we do have other players. They too compete in the discovery phase like Justdial, Sulekha and Urbanpro and few niche players in fitness like Gympik, Fitternity etc. On the other hand, we provide our customers with support for the entire journey, Hence, currently, we are the only platform which delivers service excellence to end users.

Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans:
We aim to increase the number of premium customers, to get our Opex to break-even, to invest more on marketing and to be a top ranked platform in Delhi NCR. We are launching our nextgen set of modules having Advanced automation and  AI at the core.

Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans:
Heartiest Congratulations and Best wishes, the path taken by us is not an easy one, it comes with daily struggles, disappointments, and let downs. However, we will get through. Uphold your ethics, Customer first, Employee next and product third should be on your focus.

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