In Brief: Shunya One Ep.25

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On this episode of Shunya One, we are joined by Zishaan Hayath, Co-founder, Toppr.com to talk about the early days of the startup ecosystem in Powai, what technology can do to the education sector and his journey of building the learning app.

Shiladitya enquired how he set the building blocks for Toppr.com. To which Zishaan responded:

For the first one and a half years, it was just four of us building the platform from my apartment. And to keep the costs low and to give us a long runway we kept it very lean, very low-cost but kept writing very high-quality code for a very long time. So four people, one and half years; because of the minimum viable product, in this case, was not small or flimsy it was a large MVP. Because students will not commit to a product unless it is completely meaningful to them and comprehensive to them. They just can’t pick up something which is very half baked or a very thin used-case and commit to using it. They will be like I either use this or I’ll go with a book or I’ll go to a coaching class. They need that commitment to subscribe before.

Zishaan explained about the functionality of the learning app.

I think our core word is personalization, so we want to build an adaptive path for each child as they navigate through the course. So at the start of the course, they set what they want to learn right, so you are a 9th std student, you can say IX std CBSE, these are my subjects additionally I want to prepare for Olympiad or NTSE or whatever. So you set your course and we create one course in the app. These are a bunch of courses most of it is overlapping, so we create one overlapping course that covers everything. Then we set you out on a path and after that, we take control and then we create a path that is best suited for you.

He also spoke about the opportunity for advanced learning applications in the existing education system.

In India, there is a lot of demand and we are still scratching the surface of demand because our skilling is very low. Even in our grad colleges, our undergrad colleges we learn very little. We spend years, come out we can’t even write code. We finish 12 years of school from an English-medium school and we can’t write a page in English. Our skilling, while we are going through these years, is very very low. So we essentially we come to our job and then spend two years you know learning on the job and somebody is actually exploiting you because of that. So I think there is a lot of self-learning opportunity available, upscaling opportunity available. So supplementary education till XII std, definitely yes; even beyond XII std there is a lot of upscaling and learning opportunity outside of the classroom.

Listen to the full episode here: