Once upon a time, there was a man who was immensely inspired by Steve Jobs. He wanted to use technology created by this great man to bring about a change in Indian rural cities. He wanted to revolutionise the plight of Indian education system that was subjected to lack of teachers and classrooms. With the advent of tablets, he saw an opportunity and created a tablet education company with an aim to alter the face of e-learning in India.
As much as this sounds like a plot of an inspirational movie, it is reality and the man in discussion is none other than the famous Indian ‘turnover specialist’ Sanjay Purohit.
An engineer by education, Purohit proceeded to become an IAS officer post his education. He then did his MBA and went to US where he received his entrepreneurial experience. During his time there, Purohit was credited for the restructuring of legendary firms such as Dan River and Albany. In late 2000s, the plight of education in rural India caught Purohit’s eye and the rest, as they say, is history.
Purohit’s iProf Learning Solutions, a learning management and test preparation provider in India, has raised US$9M in a Series B funding round led by Daily Mail Group Information. Against this backdrop, e27 spoke to Purohit to understand the investment and how it will be utilised, his top priorities, vision for iProf and the Indian e-learning space, among other things.
It has been reported that the US$9M raised in Series B funding will be used to finance acquisitions. Do you have any firms in mind that you plan to acquire?
We are looking at a couple of companies right now. Our plans include organic and non-organic elements. However, I cannot disclose the names of these companies right now.
Post the funding, what is your top priority right now?
First on my list is to build an exciting product for our international markets. Second and a very important element is hiring and engaging the right talent from both, technology and education backgrounds. Next I want to understand our consumers and improve our offerings.
Our mobile offering is not very strong at the moment. I want to target continued launching for our mobile platform.
I intend to launch something like a WhatsApp or Angry Birds for education purpose. Thus, going mobile is high on my list. Lastly, it is acquiring companies that will complete our offerings.
What is your vision for iProf in the current year?
We aim at taking the student count to five million. India is a prime market for us. We are expecting 80 to 85 per cent of our students to come from India. You could say that we expect almost 4.5 million students from India and half a million students internationally.
Is South Asia an important market for you? Please take us through your expansion strategy.
We have a combination of online and offline products.
Indonesia is a very important market for us. Students based in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, India are online fewer times, sometimes as less as once in a week. Thus, expanding in these markets is very important for us.
What about markets such as China and Thailand that have a strong demand for English tutorial content?
Right now we are focused on the aforementioned markets. We will add a lot more products to suit these markets.
How would you describe your startup journey so far?
My entrepreneurial journey has been very inspiring. I am immensely inspired by Steve Jobs. Thus, when tablets came about, I wanted to engage the platform and take technology to rural areas.