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ixamBee: How 3 co-founders are tapping around US$7 bn testprep market in India

Being associated with YES Bank, Chandraprakash Joshi used to travel a lot to small towns and villages for attending SHG (Self Help Group) meetings. 

On one such official trip to a village in Odisha, Joshi learned that villagers are using microfinance loans for paying school fees. Not only this, he got to know that villagers were ordering branded products online. On knowing this, he was amazed and got the startup idea to fill the gap. Unavailability of the quality education in small towns and people’s willingness to pay for education makes a huge business opportunity as more than two-thirds of the 300 million students in India live in remote areas. 

Sensing the need to address the gap and capitalize on the market opportunity, Joshi and 2 other co-founders founded ixamBee in December 2016. The edtech company provides training for more than 50 competitive exams like Banking, Insurance, Teaching, Railways, SSC and others prep tests in the form of online learning solution. 

“To create a firm plan, I met co-founder Arunima, who started Stratagem-a coaching institute for competitive exams, in 2010 after quitting her job with SIDBI. When I discussed this startup plan with her, she said that it’s a divine call as she was already working for expanding the success of Stratagem. In my search for a tech co-founder, I met Sandeep through my friends in Gurgaon and in the first meeting; I got impressed with his experience in the startup space. He was part of the core tech team of MakeMyTrip and has worked with founding team of MakeMyTrip for the initial six years. Sandeep also co-founded Babyhugz.com, an e-commerce platform for baby products,” informed Chandraprakash Joshi CEO, Co-Founder, ixamBee. 

The three musketeers bring complementary skills to the startup- Arunima is a passionate teacher, Sandeep a Tech-wiz and Joshi come from business development and senior leadership work experience. “We met in September 2016 and incorporated ixamBee in December 2016, while the website was launched in April 2017,” said Joshi.

What they Offer…

They started with Testprep because they found a large gap in the existing offering in this space. “We have the advantage of domain knowledge.  We provide complete learning solutions for competitive exams,” said Joshi.  At present they have learning courses for more than 10 exams and mock tests for more than 50 exams. Further, they provide crisp and quality content matching to the specific requirement of the exam. 

The co-founder boasts to have 870K registered students who have attempted more than 350 million 5practice questions at ixamBee. Every month 0.5 million users visit their website and the numbers are increasing rapidly.

Business Model

The edtech startup has a freemium business model in which 99% of our users learn for free. “Our content is created by subject matter experts and we use technology to create exam-specific content and personalize that for the user requirement. We provide mock tests for more than 55 competitive exams and all these tests match the difficulty level of exams. We provide all mock tests for free. Our video-based learning course is our paid product. We have learning courses for competitive exams like Bank PO, RBI, SEBI, NABARD, EPFO, RRB, IBPS SO and others,” said Joshi.

According to the founder, in the last year, ixamBee website traffic has grown more than 10 times and revenue has grown more than 4 times.

Funds raised…

More than Rs.80 lakh have been invested by the co-founders. However, they have raised angle money of Rs.19 Cr that helped them in accelerating their growth while developing a robust platform and finding a product-market fit. 

“We are now raising institutional funding for scaling up faster. We plan to raise $1.0 million to meet our growth target,” informed Joshi.

Who they compete with…

According to Joshi, when they started most of the existing players such as OnlineTyari, Testbook, Oliveboard, GradeUp, MockBank, and others were offering testing solutions by providing practice mock tests. “We are the only platform in the testprep market that does not sell any mock test but gets subscribers for complete learning solutions,” said Joshi.

Road ahead…

In the last 2.5 years, they have worked for developing the platform and processes for making online learning effective. “Now we are planning to grow rapidly by launching more courses while making the technology platform superiors to create an online learning experience. In the upcoming years, we plan to reach 5 million students with an annual revenue of over Rs.10 Cr. The organic traffic and word to mouth publicity of the existing users are helping us to grow faster,” informed Joshi.

Sector overview…

India has the advantage of a demographic dividend and there are more than 300 million students in India. As per the various estimates, the education market in India is $100-150 billion. The confidence in online learning is increasing due to the better quality of content and measurement of the learning outcome. At present ixamBee is working in test prep in which there are 70 million-plus users preparing for various competitive exams. In March 2018, 28 million candidates applied for about 90k jobs in Indian Railways.  As per KPMG Google report published in 2017, the online education market is going to be 1.96 Bn by 2021. However considering the revenue of existing players like BYJU’S, Toppr, upGrad, Unacademy, Vedantu, etc the market seems to be growing much larger. The test prep market for govt jobs is about $3Bn with over 50 million aspirants. 

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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