How is the online education market evolving?
Given the explosion of available information, the future is not going to be centered on ‘how much’ content you can provide a student, but much more on how efficiently you can build his understanding of a topic using the least amount of content.
We believe that technology will play an increasing pivotal role in education and the revolution will be centered around some key themes that include intuitive algorithms for personalized experiences, multiple personal devices, low cost-high scale and social learning.
What are the drivers and influencers of this market?
While we as a country have made definitive strides in the adoption of ‘technology in education’ the industry has largely focused on ‘classroom solutions’. In comparison, Attano aims to deliver a seamless educational experience to students irrespective of whether they’re in a classroom environment or at home, via a combination of browser and application-based offerings, to help student’s access high quality educational content at affordable costs.
On the demand side, today approximately 75 million Indians use PCs and Laptops and over 125 million Indians use smart phones. We envisage a future where affordable tablets, broadband wireless and growing disposable incomes result in demand for quality affordable education for a large population (over 200 million students).
Some of the largest moves in technology adoption are coming from the universities themselves. For example Pune University is now moving mid-term exams for engineering students online. CAT too is an online test. All around, adoption of technology in education is set to snowball.
What is the market segment that you target? Do you also look at tier 2 /3 cities?
Attano sells to students and parents. Some of our customers include teachers who use Attano as a teaching aid. Attano is India’s first and only digital market place for interactive educational content be it assessment papers, eBooks, audio or video books which can be downloaded across platforms be it a Windows PC, an android device or an iPad – so it is irrespective of where the user is based, because all users need is a device and a broadband connectivity. In the last month alone we have had students from 64 Indian cities log-in to our site; with the top three metros accounting for only 30 percent of our traffic.
What are the challenges you faced as an entrepreneur in this area?
The biggest challenge was building a complete ecosystem of publishers, content owners and device manufacturers since different people had different priorities and timelines and alignment of multiple drivers always takes a long time. But once they saw the saw the benefits and promise of Attano and the impact it can have on education, it helped align partner priorities and our priorities.
How has your business journey been so far? What are the growth drivers?
The journey till now has been fantastic; Attano has no direct competitors in India. This is due to a combination of reasons including us making an early bet and the sheer ambition of our vision. That said, we are constantly focusing on the consumer and what today’s students want and that drives the DNA of the company. There is a lot of effort and thought put in on product range, product design and usability because finally it is the educational community which will decide the success of Attano.
The long term vision of the company is to be an educational brand recognized globally as a pioneer in digital educational products which enable students to realize their potential. We constantly innovate in terms of enhancing our product portfolio to create new learning paradigms which engage students in their educational journey and make Attano their companion of choice for the same.
What are the evolving opportunities in this market?
There are several new trends that are evolving which we refer to as ‘digitization beyond eBooks,’ which is what Attano is doing as well. These are very early days for our market and it is exciting to see different entrepreneurs and professionals innovate, experiment and try and unlock value. In no fixed order these are some of the interesting moves we’ve seen locally and globally. Mobile ready content (a good local example is what Hungama and Airtel have done for CAT preparation in 30 days and a good global example is what Studyblue has done to mobile flashcards), the Journal on the Kno App and Inkling’s Social Learning Network.
Please share details about business transactions and your targets for the next one year…
The last few months have been action packed. We spun out a division of ours to HCL in a business transfer agreement and signed a deal with Samsung to power an application called ‘My Education’ which comes preloaded on all Samsung Tablets and a lot of their smart phones. We’ve signed deals with several leading publishers (global and local majors) including Pearson and Tata McGraw Hill and are in talks with over 20 other global publishers. Similarly, we are working with several leading eCommerce sites who expressed an interest to sell Attano’s eBooks, sample papers and interactive tests on their sites.
The coming year is a big one for us. We hope to launch at least three innovations that will catalyze adoption and help move our industry forward. While we do not comment on financial goals, we are looking to find hockey stick style growth in a number of digital solutions, available content on our marketplace, consumer adoption and revenue.