Sunstone Eduversity is one-of-its-kind academic institution creating industry ready professionals with an industry-synched curriculum in an asset-light model.
With its unique pedagogy and technology-enabled education delivery, Sunstone Eduversity has established a 100% placement record by empanelling over 200 recruitment companies. The academic institution providing the most comprehensive industry ready PGDM programs works on Pay-after-Placement model.
Sunstone Eduversity is disrupting the higher education space in India by aggregating MBA colleges across the country to allow students to enroll for their AICTE approved PGDM program with frequently-updated curriculum and industry oriented learning.
The company has been running since 2014 by two academicians, Dr. Monica Gupta and Nituj Gupta. The team has successfully passed out one batch every year with 100% success rate. In October 2018, Ashish Munjal and Piyush Nangru (both serial entrepreneurs) have come in and are now scaling this business.
About the founders
- Ashish Munjal – IMT Ghaziabad (2010) & CFA, Co-Founder at Crownit, Ex-Knowlarity, Ex-Bank of America, Ex-Deloitte
- Piyush Nangru – NSIT (2006) & IMT Ghaziabad (2010), Founding team at Crownit, Previously started a company in travel space
The founders met each other during their MBA days. Both were batch-mates at IMT Ghaziabad 2008-10 batch. They were then together in Crownit. Ashish was a Co-Founder and Piyush joined in as part of the founding team. Ashish has always been interested in the education sector and he discussed the idea with Piyush, who then joined him as a co-founder. At Sunstone, Ashish drives strategy and growth while Piyush looks after product and partnerships.
We are publishing an interview with Mr. Ashish Munjal, CEO & Co-Founder, Sunstone Eduversity:
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Ans: In India, Higher Education is a risky investment. Talking of MBA – the most professional PG program – only 35% of students get a job. The entire risk here is of the student with zero ownership from the institution. If a MBA college promises placement to students – which are selected by the college itself – and is unable to deliver, should they still charge the fee to the student?
We want to bring a paradigm shift in Indian Higher Education, where the onus of a student’s career lies with the college and not the student.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution.
Ans: In India, there are 4000 MBA colleges. Barring top 100 colleges, most colleges have poor placements, both in quantity and quality. Hence, most management students don’t get access to quality industry-ready education.
We have created a unique asset-light model, wherein we partner with accredited institutions to run our industry-oriented management program. Through technology-enabled pedagogy, we are making experienced faculty and industry experts accessible across our partner campuses.
On one hand, we are able to save on costs through centralized faculty and technology-enabled pedagogy, while standardizing the education across campuses as well as uplift the quality of education. On the other hand, industry partners are able to get job-ready graduates and are able to save on their hiring cost as well as training cost for fresh graduates.
PAY AFTER PLACEMENT
In this segment, the students are confused as to which college to choose so that their chances of getting placed increase. By offering Pay after Placement program, Sunstone aligns its revenue to its students’ success and thus builds the trust. This generates huge demand and we are able to filter the right candidates.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: • We are the only management program in the country to charge a fee based on student success. By doing this, as a company we align our revenues directly with student success.
• Our program is completely driven through technology. We use technology in delivery, learning and assessment. We use hybrid model of delivery and all the assignments and post-class handouts are through a central Learning Management System. This gives us multiple data points on each student and we are able to pre-empt trailing students in real-time.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have?
Ans: Initially, we assumed that brand would play a big role in students’ choice of institute. While brand is important, but we were able to generate huge demand through our Pay after Placement offering. Students view this as college taking accountability of their careers.
Ideal Customer: Our ideal customer is every MBA aspirant who is looking to kick-start or accelerate his career. In India, only 35-40% of management graduates get a job which has lead them to distrust Indian B-schools and be skeptical about placement.
We observed that students will accept and willingly opt for a B-school which would take complete responsibility of their career and de-risk the financial investment involved in gaining higher management education.
So far, Sunstone has graduated 240 students with a 100-percent track record.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: In our previous startup, at one point in time we were trying too many things which diluted the focus on our core offering. We learned not to spread ourselves too thin and focus on the core problem we are trying to solve.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? Explain your thought process.
Ans: We take complete responsibility of students career by aligning our revenue to their success. We have linked the course fee with the monthly salary that student gets in campus placement after the course. This Pay after Placement model works as follow:
- Enrol for the 2-year full-time program by paying a nominal registration fee of INR 65000
- Acquire management skills by learning from the industry experts and pay no fee for 2 years
- On completion of the course and only after getting a job, pay the course fee equal to 10 times of your monthly salary
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: There is an inherent risk involved while opting for a B-school as colleges are able to place only a few students. We realized that if the institutes are willing to carry this risk (which they should), students will happily opt for such an arrangement. That is when we introduced “Pay Aafter Placement” model and got our first set of students.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: Sunstone has raised funds worth $300,000 from angels in a round led by Purvi Ventures, and PS1 Ventures in January 2019. Rajul Garg, Founder of Pine Labs, and Global Logic, Sairee Chahal, CEO of Sheroes, Ambarish Gupta, Co-founder of Knowlarity Communications, Lovleen Bhatia and Kapil Tyagi, Co-founders of Edureka, Raghavendra Prasad, Co-founder of Qikwell Technologies, and Pallav Pandey, Co-founder of Fastfox, also participated in the round.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: Each of our students is a success story in itself and is scaling new heights every so often. We have had unpolished students coming from a mediocre background whom we groomed to be job-ready.
Just to quote some examples, one of our student, Abhishek Paira, a Bhubaneswar boy was promoted twice in the company where he was recruited through campus placement and recently joined Vogo Automotive at a salary package of 14 LPA. Another student, Revanasiddayya Hiremath recently joined Byte Dance (Tik Tok) at a salary package of 8.5 LPA. All of our alumni are doing extremely well, with a lot many in top management and leadership roles across various industries.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: Going by the current projections, by 2023 we will have 15000 students and we will be booking revenue of 100 million dollars.
Other Future Possibilities
There is lot of skill gap and lack of sync between academia and industry across various domains. This gap in evident in entry level jobs. MBA is our first storefront; the same can be extended to BBA, BCA, MCA, etc.
Various developing economies across the globe also have similar issues. This product (mainstream education focused on employability) will also work well in African and South East Asian countries.
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in details:
Ans: Since 2018, Sunstone had a batch size of 60 students every year, with annual revenue of INR 2 crore. Now for 2019 batch, we are targeting INR 10 crore, and for the 2020 batch, we are targeting Rs 40 crore.
So far, Sunstone has placed 240 students with a 100-percent track record.
Till 25th May 2019, we have received over 15000 admission inquiries and 1600 applications, out of which 150 students have been selected after following a strict evaluation and screening process. We aim to select in a total of 300 students for the 2019-21 session.
Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: We know that there is no scarcity of jobs for management graduates but the only issue is they lack essential skill set.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles.
Ans: Name Designation Skill Set/Domain Expertise Key Responsibility
- Monica Gupta ( Director Academics) Possesses 25 years of academic administration, teaching, research and corporate experience with reputed institutes Lead the curriculum designing and responsible for student personality development
- Virendra Pandey (AVP Student Outreach) Experienced in handling large teams for admissions. Spread awareness about Sunstone and increase enrolments
- Nishant Mishra (AVP Product Marketing) Experienced in defining product solutions and processes Lead Technology-enabled Pedagogy and Product Offering
- Anmol Jain (Analyst Growth Hustler and a problem solver) Drive time-bound growth initiatives
- Gareema Bali (Manager Marketing) Experienced in Education domain, Content Marketing and Organic Growth Drive product awareness and marketing campaigns
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: Sunstone doesn’t have a direct competition. However, there are a few players such as Pesto, iNurture, and TimesPro who are offering capsule courses. Sunstone offers mainstream education in an asset-light model. A big differentiator is, of course, our pricing model.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: At present, Sunstone has tied up with four colleges – two in NCR, one in Bengaluru, and one in Indore, including Noida Institute of Engineering and Technology, Greater Noida and IPS Academy, Indore. By August 2019, we will be having 300 enrolments and a revenue booking of INR 10 Cr.
We aim to have 15 campuses in 10 cities by August 2020 and by 2023, we are aiming at 100 colleges in 40 cities and a revenue booking of Rs 700 crore.
Thanks Ashish. Best wishes!