Gone are the days when notes were photocopied, question banks were made and group studies were organised. Now students share notes via the cloud and study through Google Hangouts.

With increasing focus on education by the Indian Government, the country is seeing rise in number of students and learning opportunities. Not to forget the higher internet penetration, which is leading to the e-learning space shaping well.

According to ‘India E-Learning Market Outlook to FY’2018 – Increasing Technology Adoption to Drive Future Growth’, India’s e-learning market (e.g. mock tests) is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 17.4 per cent over the period FY2013-FY’2018. The e-learning content market (e.g. study material) is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.4 per cent from FY’2014-FY’2018.

With an aim to penetrate deeper in the India e-learning space, online test prep portal MyTestBuddy has launched Mera Test Bazaar, an online education and test prep marketplace that will allow teachers to create online courses in eight plus regional languages, including Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali and English.

“MyTestBuddy wants to create a globally recognised platform where students and teachers could connect and learn. This aids in our vision of being seen as India’s foremost educational social learning network,” said Kaizad Hansotia, CMO, MyTestBuddy, an entity launched in 2012 in Gujarat, India. “Plus, they get to enroll in a variety of courses through Mera Test Bazaar and share their learning experience via the MyTestBuddy social network,” he added.

How does Mera Test Bazaar work?
Once users log on to Mera Test Bazaar, there are welcomed with a variety of study courses created by different tutors. While the basic courses are available for free, students need to pay a fee to access higher level courses. The fees starts from INR 99 (US$1.59).

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The portal allows teachers to create an online course, upload videos, presentations, study material, notes, take tests, conduct exams in different languages and assess students’ grades, along with keeping track of their progress.

According to the website, it has added social and gamification elements to make the process of studying livelier. “One-on-one and one-to-many communication options are available to both, teachers and students, so everyone can interact with each other through live threads,” added Hansotia.

Additionally students can follow a teacher or other fellow students and view updates and wall posts for the day. Students also get badges and points for the right answers, and can unlock features after reaching a certain level.

The money flow
Monetising an e-learning platform can be tricky as the prices need to be pocket-friendly for students and course designers. As of now, MyTestBuddy mainly earns its revenue from course creators.

Teachers can create the basic courses for free. However, to create an advanced level course, teachers need to pay INR 10, 000 (nearly US$161). With the fee, course creators get services such as personalised branding, more data storage space, personalised social learning network and an education catalogue to introduce themselves.

MyTestBuddy gets 20 per cent of every penny that comes through selling the courses and the rest goes to the teacher.

Also, publishers and other test preparation material providers can list with the website by paying a fee of INR 2500 (US$41).

The website is now looking for a funding of INR 30 million (nearly US$4.8 million) for expanding its team (currently comprising nine people), adding to existing technology, building infrastructure and expanding consumer base.

Marketing mix
“We are using a combination of inbound and outbound marketing strategies to create maximum awareness and attract both, students and teachers,” expressed Hansotia.

The inbound strategies include enhancing organic search results of the website, content marketing (online), affiliations with other online organisations and via Google adwords.

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The outbound marketing strategies are student ambassador programmes and promotional activities, and seminars conducted across universities. Hansotia shared that MyTestBuddy also initiates a pre-incubator programme for tech students who wish to create an app or website that focuses on bettering online education.

Hansotia defines the TG as “all kind of learners from the age group of 13-30”. The website claims to have acquired 5000 students at the time of its launch (2012), but says the number crossed 50,000 in 2013.

In the coming year, MyTestBuddy aims to enroll 100,000 students and attract as many as a thousand teachers to create online courses. “We want to make MyTestBuddy a known brand name within the student-teacher community, and position ourselves as the next tech startup to disrupt the online education space,” added Hansotia.

The million dollar question here is whether Mera Test Bazaar be its first step towards this goal?

Currently, players such as iProf, and have managed to establish themselves in the industry. Also, there are websites such as MeritNation in the country.

According to Hansotia, being able to create courses in multiple local languages and the social network element is their USP. Apart from this, MyTestBuddy has tie-ups with direct or indirect competitors such as, TestFunda, Toppr and MyOrangeSlate.

The portal has also collaborated internationally with LearningU, a company that creates TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) courses for students. “The logical step is to collaborate, than directly compete,” said Hansotia.

Recently, leading online marketplace SnapDeal also entered the e-learning space with a marketplace model.

Image Courtesy: MyTestBuddy