Ed tech companies have become a part of every household. The ed-tech segment in India was booming a few years before the pandemic and then when learning shifted entirely to the internet due to the pandemic-related lockdowns. Post-pandemic, an uncertain future, unsustainable models and a general parental distrust of online education have led to many ups and downs in the industry. Ujjwal Singh, President and CEO of Infinity Learn, one of the fastest growing EdTech companies in India, backed by Shri Chaitanya Group, discusses Infinity Learn’s growth, its future and the future of EdTech in India.
Infinity Learn is recognized as one of the fastest growing EdTech companies in India. How do you strike the right balance between building 10x growth and sustainable business?
During my conversations with the Sri Chaitanya group, we discovered a common thought process. We have recognized that the academic institutions in India are always responsible for a learner’s success. In any educational system, the success of the learner comes first. So EdTech was booming in India, but the results weren’t visible. So we thought, let’s create an EdTech company that is learner-centric, success-centric, that tracks learner success and provides exactly what the learners need. We are a sustainable, profitable and growth-oriented company. We may have about fourfold growth, but it’s a sustained run. This March (2023) we aim to be a break-even company after only two years of existence. We will create new departments so you can see rapid growth. However, we value sustainable growth.
How does it feel to be a professionally managed start-up? How can you excel in such a segment?
We are perhaps the only professionally managed startups in the EdTech world. Our parent company that financed us is a 36 year old company. We are entrepreneurs instead of an employee mentality, brought together by a shared passion and belief system to improve the learning gaps for learners. So all team members work passionately for hours and days if necessary. We have no individualistic existence; It is a common purpose why we exist.
So can this be the mantra for running a successful EdTech business?
You can say: Our mission statement is ”
Promotion of learning progress,” and that’s exactly why we’re here. Most of our team members either have children who are in school or parents who have been or are educators; they essentially feel the need to contribute to learning success.
Is this how you attract the right talent?
Yes. When we go to college recruiting, we see a lot of interest and passion in knowing why and how we are different from other EdTech companies. They always ask us how we can contribute. With this extraordinary enthusiasm we have built a fantastic team. Our leadership is made up of inspiring people as some of the best talent from across the board has joined us. Potential recruits rejoice when they see them to join this impactful journey.
Unlike many other ed-tech companies today, Infinity Learn has a strong foundation in a brick-and-mortar offline institution. Does that make a difference in the market?
So one of the reasons to start Infinity Learn was to bring the teaching and learning pedagogy of the Sri Chaitanya schools, which are mainly focused on Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, to other cities, states and even countries, where we don’t have our schools. EdTech can fill these gaps by delivering learning with Sri Chaitanya’s ethos and approach to classroom pedagogy. We are trying to integrate Sri Chaitanya’s learner-centric approach into the ed-tech sector through Infinity Learn.
With the uncertainties the ed tech industry is facing today, layoffs and company closures etc, what do you think the future of ed tech in India is? Do you propose a course correction strategy for the industry?
Being frugal is the only way to survive unless you are heavily funded. When the markets opened up after the pandemic, we said earlieracquire phygitally
and deliver digitally. That means you can take a student through the combination of the physical and digital worlds, but EdTech offers the convenience of learning and taking classes from home without having to leave the physical infrastructure. Marketing costs are very optimized, so we don’t spend more than we earn now. Second, we have two types of students. The first is the gateway learner studying at a local school or coaching center and using us as an additional gateway to review their learning. Then the second type is the learner who is 100% dependent on us. We want to live up to our responsibility for your learning success. Finally, we believe that Ed (as in education) is more important than Tech in EdTech. You need a fantastic platform for a great learning experience. But the ultimate goal here is to provide education to the learner. How we track the learner’s goals and progress is far more critical.
How do you see the future of EdTech in India?
EdTech has been here before and will continue to exist (with effectiveness) post-pandemic. There will be ups and downs, but it will only get bigger over time.
How is Infinity Learn uniquely positioned to face an uncertain future of the Indian ed-tech industry?
We must provide learners with hands-on learning and earn their trust, and this mantra will help us prepare for uncertainty. Our focus is on the growth and success of the learner. This is our way to sustainability.
However high-tech the education sector may be; Most parents still believe in offline classes over online classes. Do you think one is more valuable than the other when it comes to imparting knowledge?
You see, online and offline can and will coexist. We don’t compete with each other. As children will continue to go to school even though education has shifted to the online system during the pandemic, EdTech will always remain supplemental learning for learners. But an excess of everything is wrong. When parents see their kids spending 6-8 hours in front of a laptop or phone, they become concerned. On the other hand, kids today go to school, come back, learn a bit on a platform, and then get on with their day. So when parents see their children gaining access to a range of educational content that is not readily available or available in schools, they see value in it.
According to Infinity Learn, which courses have done well in the last year? Are there new courses that need to be introduced? Any course correction suggestions for the future?
We teach up to grade 12 and focus primarily on JEE and NEET preparation. We did very well on learning acquisition and outcomes. In the first eight months since the last NEET and JEE exams, we have produced students with ranks below 10,000. And these are children who only studied with us. As for expansion plans, we plan to start CUET preparation by the end of November. We will be focusing primarily on K12 and specifically test preparation over the next few months which is 9th to 12th with JEE and NEET and now with tuition for younger grades and the expansion of science and math in other segments such as CUET.
Any closing remarks? Plans?
One of the lines we live by daily is ”
bachha seekha ki nahi?“It gives us the energy to be successful every day. We only want three things for the future. First, we want to prove that online education can produce rankings. Second, we want to be a profitable company. And finally, we want to be the largest company in the B2B2C segment.