Edtech start-ups in India have garnered billion dollar valuations and experts expect the overall digital learning business estimated to grow 4X over the next five years. So, when another edtech start-up jumps into the fray, it isn't surprising. However, Spayee's business model could well disrupt existing digital learning models.
On the one hand, companies such as Byju's have raked in huge investments to become India's second unicorn in the market by providing K12 lessons online. At the other end of the spectrum are global players such as Udemy and Coursera that lists out courseware from content generators.
Spayee follows the latter model but with a clear "Make-in-India" mindset where it supports every content creator and educator to create, promote, and manage their courseware with a single-stop suite of services delivered on a SaaS model by the platform. The Spayee platform launched in 2018.
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The lockdown helped
Founded by four first-time entrepreneurs Sandeep Singh, Gourav Kakkar, Aniruddha Singh and Vijay Singh six years ago, Spayee provides a white-label course platform that lets educators create, market and sell their academic products digitally. The platform, offered as a SaaS model, keeps both data and courseware under layers of security protection.
The lockdown following Covid-19 has rendered the company profitable within two years. Though Spayee Labs itself began the journey six years ago in 2014, the product was launched in 2018, which according to co-founder Sandeep Singh proved a blessing. "None could've predicted the lockdown and its impact on education," he says in a chat with TechRadar.
Today, the company boasts of more than a thousand paid customers, who generate more than Rs.200 crore (approx. $27 million) worth of revenues through sale of customized courseware on the platform. The lockdown since March 2020 has seen a rush for educators and other content creators with Spayee's paid customers growing from 200 to over 1000.
Educators were reluctant to go online
Singh says the idea of creating such a platform came six years ago based on the realization that content creators required an all-in-one platform that helped create courseware, market it as well as provide support for payments at the click of a few buttons. "We realized that content creators needed a simple solution to create and manage their own portfolio," he says.
In fact, early adopters of the platform found the ease of operation so simple that one of them even went on to provide seed capital to Spayee. The client was using a global platform, which wasn't optimized for Indian audiences till they came across this localized platform. "It helped them and the money helped us enhance our product as well as market it," says Sandeep.
While business growth during the pandemic was phenomenal resulting in robust growth over six months that the co-founders had planned for two years. "However, this brought its fair share of problems too as we weren't prepared for providing support to the growing customer base. Since educators were onboarding on digital for the first time, they required lots of hand-holding."
Spayee's growth challenges
We didn't have bandwidth to train and support the educators and their clients, given that we were adding 150-200 clients each month during the lockdown. As we scaled we also realised the need for more features, for which we were prepared with a development team.
The company doesn't get involved in creation of content on the platform but there is an inbuilt ability to market what users create. "We provide them with a white label solution that is branded as per their desire. Spayee doesn't feature anywhere and functions from the backend." In fact, the company also provides a white label website to content creators as part of the deal.
In fact, the company is operating in the B2B2C market whereby its clients could be educators or corporate entities who want their own training and development programs created on a platform that can be used and reused by employees any number of times.
The company, which enjoys a top-of-the-mind recall amongst Indian educators, now hopes to go global within the next six to eight months and is chasing investments for this purpose. "We are in talks with a few investors and hopefully should be closing out a round in the next two to three months," concludes Sandeep.
Ever since the Covid-19-led pandemic hit Indian shores in end-February, close to $1.5 billion has been invested over the past nine months in Indian edtech. Looks like it is already time for another disruption in this nascent market.