While STEM fields like engineering may be the conventional route for most students in India, it’s important to understand what they assimilate during the learning period. Will it help them think out-of-the-box? Will it enable them to become innovators?
This is where early and focused STEM learning makes all the difference. Mohan Krishna and Sudhir Reddy started Jay Robotix in April 2015 with exactly this in mind.
Jay Robotix is a global STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education startup that designs, develops and deploys robotics-based products and services for school and college students.
Headquartered in Singapore, the 60-member team runs operations from Hyderabad.
The startup claims to be an original thinker in the space, and also an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that produces its own tools for STEM learning. These robotics-based tools attempt to bridge the gap between industrial requirements and the current academic curriculum.
The birth of an idea
Interestingly, the seed was sown when both Mohan Krishna and Sudhir Reddy were batchmates in the electrical engineering course at SASTRA University during 2002 to 2006. Both were robotics aficionados who managed robotics clubs and organised workshops in college.
When they felt empowered with the hands-on and practical training they received at the university, they decided the best way forward was to start up in this field.
“Back in 2013-14, there were many tools and workshops for undergraduate students, but very few focused on self-learning or DIY projects. Though there were products like Lego Mindstorms or Vex Robotics, they just focused on games and competitions,” Mohan says.
The duo felt the need for a modular approach with a powerful yet easy-to-code tool for students. So they started designing Robox, a holistic learning package that develops intuition in programming, math, and science for students from Class VI to XII.
“This approach grows on the students to enhance their logical, analytical and problem solving skills," he says.
The sessions are hands-on and are designed in a way that the students are directly introduced to embedded systems, robotics, and computation. This compels them to build their own projects.
For colleges, the startup’s product offering is embedded engineering, which is at the core of all technical industries currently. The embedded systems and robotics industry contributes largely to other industrial markets like aerospace, automobile, energy, industrial automation, consumer, and service products.
How does it work?
The startup works on a B2B model. Using its products, content, and software, the team has designed a self-sustainable programme for students in schools and colleges.
One advantage it has is that it is the OEM of its own products, and can therefore design flexible pricing models for schools. It has recently ventured into the B2B2C space and is planning packages that can be deployed in B2C markets.
The business is primarily dependent on the Robox line of products, which is a DIY STEM tool box with building blocks, content, coding software and a re-programmable unit. The startup has two streams for generating revenue.
One-time investment model - The school pays for the lab equipment and services. Jay Robotix team designs a train-the-trainer programme for the school and develops modules for training workshops and competition.
Subscription model - The startup envisions a five-year roadmap for the school, where the lab setup is free of cost. The schools mandate the offerings to all the students and the students pay the fees, monthly or on a quarterly basis.
According to an IBEF report, India's education sector offers a great opportunity with approximately 29 percent of the population in the age group of zero to 14 years. India's higher education segment is expected to reach $35 billion by 2025.
During the product-building stage, the team engaged teachers from schools and several academic researchers.
“The same people who were in the analysis team and gave inputs eventually became our customers. And for the record, we never lost a single customer in the last four years,” Mohan says.
Being in the manufacturing space, Mohan says the startup doesn’t fall under a typically interesting category for VCs. And hence, the founders had to work hard and build the product with very little resources.
“However, it helped us venture into the market in a gradual, structured manner. Now we are confident of the market and its requirements,” he adds.
The startup received an angel funding of $250,000 in 2015, and since then it has started to show organic growth. Jay Robotix now caters to more than 300 schools and two lakh students with the Robox programmes, across six countries. It claims to have clocked a total revenue of $2 million since inception.
Some notable schools include some from the franchise of Delhi public schools, Don Bosco, Baldwin group, Narayana group, Apollo group.
In India, the startup has presence in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, Kanpur, and over 20 cities from Tier II and III regions. Apart from India, the startup operates in Singapore, Bahrain, Qatar, Malaysia, and Oman.
“We now want to launch the B2B2C and B2C avenues to try and see if exponential growth is possible,” Mohan says.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)