A recent report by NASSCOM and EY titled ‘Can enterprise intelligence be created artificially’, shows that about 70 percent of Indian enterprises that deployed artificial intelligence (AI) have achieved measurable results, while sixty percent believe AI will disrupt their business within the next three years.
The survey also revealed that re-skilling of existing talent will aid in maximising value from their AI programmes. A World Economic Forum’s Global Talent Risk report cautions there is a wide gap between the skills required in the industry and those provided by the education system.
To fill this gap, Santanu Paul, JA Chowdary, and Madhumurty Ronank started TalentSprint in 2009. While the company was initially running physical coding bootcamps, it pivoted to its current model of digital or hybrid learning only in 2018.
The Hyderabad-based edtech startup is now offering training and certifications in deep tech programs like artificial intelligence (AI), Blockchain, and machine learning (ML) among others.
In the last two years, the startup claims to have trained more than three lakh learners and around 700 companies have recruited talent from the TalentSprint pool of students.
The co-founders shared a common past. Santanu and JA Chowdary had collaborated on various TiE initiatives in Hyderabad when Santanu was heading Virtusa India and JA Chowdary was heading NVidia India. Madhu and Santanu had worked together at Virtusa for a brief period.
Santanu being the common connect, the three of them connected and realised they shared a common interest - they wanted young Indians to gain expertise in deep technologies, stay relevant, and match the global tech standards. This led them to start training programmes in Hyderabad.
The founders also invested a total of Rs 1 crore from their savings as well as from friends and family, and then raised Rs 20 crore in Series A equity funding from Nexus Venture Partners and others in 2012.
According to Santanu, after seven years of offline training centre, the team realised that learning needs to be both online as well as offline.
“The challenge was that the offline model was not scalable and that made us build a tech platform,” he says. This resulted in a pivot in 2018 with edtech platform TalentSprint.
Santanu adds that while the other two co-founders are no more with the company, Santanu, along with a team of over 100 members, is working towards a vision to produce world-class techies from India.
How does it work?
As part of the training, TalentSprint provides online courses to students in new-age technologies to make them industry-ready. The duration and fee of the courses varies.
Besides this, the startup also provides some courses in partnership with educational institutions like IISc Bangalore, IIIT Hyderabad, IIM Calcutta, IIT Kanpur, and companies such as Google and Pegasystems, where these institutes use TalentSprint as a delivery platform to teach students.
According to the startup, its platform is built in a way that students can learn deep technical skills in the virtual environment in a hassle-free manner. Santanu says, this is the reason premium institutions have partnered with the startup to offer some of their select courses.
TalentSprint has also built a patent-pending platform called iPearl.ai that enables experiential, real-time, and interactive learning.
In the last six months, the company said it has bagged deals from three premium institutes, and aims to focus on the offering to reap stronger revenue growth in future.
“By focusing on serious learners, high-end programs, and blue-chip partners, and by obsessing about how to maximise customer delight and build a world-class tech stack, we are able to operate with a level of efficacy and efficiency that is uncommon in our sector, or in hyper-funded companies for that matter,” says Santanu.
Despite the fact that there are more than 4,500 edtech players in India like BYJU’s, Vedantu, Unacademy, Toppr, etc., Santanu says, TalentSprint’s differentiation is that the courses it offers have a lot of depth and require a great degree of hands-on learning, and that it offers programs from only the premium institutions.
Revenue model and future
The company has three streams of revenue. It trains students and charges a fee in the range of Rs 40,000-Rs 50,000. It also makes money when an institution or company partners with TalentSprint, and the third was built recently during the pandemic, which is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering.
According to the team, since students across the world moved to digital learning, TalentSprint too observed a sudden surge of demand in the last six months from colleges and universities looking to reopen their own campuses online.
Santanu says the company closed FY20 with a revenue of Rs 50 crore, and expects double digit growth for FY21 on the back of technology expertise.
“Our FY20 sales were strong, and we are getting a tailwind from the pandemic. We are creating our path to an annual revenue of Rs 100 crore,” says Santanu.
COVID-19 and demonetisation of edtech
The coronavirus pandemic has been a watershed moment for India’s edtech sector. The lockdown and the fear of COVID-19 has taken schools, colleges, and educational institutes online. And hence, Santanu says, the edtech market is seeing more opportunities than challenges at this time.
“Just like demonetisation rewrote the rules for the finance sector and gave rise to fintech, we fully expect COVID-19 to rewrite the rules for the education sector and breathe fresh life into this space,” he says.
“The material disruption is already happening in the K-12 segment as we speak. It is not too far for higher and professional education as well,” he adds.
However, according to Santanu, COVID-19 has shifted the company’s strategy in three primary ways. First, it moved from a hybrid delivery mode to a pure online mode. Second is that the company is now prioritising its PaaS capability as a focus area for revenue. And thirdly, it has widened its catalogue of learning products that are suitable for a post pandemic world.
“We anticipate heightened interest in skill sets such as digital health, cybersecurity, cloud computing, extreme automation, and deep learning, and we are gearing up to offer programmes in these areas,” tells Santanu.
TalentSprint now wants to ride on this tide and aims at becoming the most trusted edtech company in deep-tech education. It said it will continue to partner with premium institutes and global big tech firms to offer exclusive learning experiences to students.
Edited by Megha Reddy
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