As a part of our ASK RODINHOODERS series, it’s so cool to have Priyadeep Sinha here! Priyadeep has quietly been building GyanLab in Bangalore and helping many many students as well as student entrepreneurs. Very often you will find him at a startup event reporting for trhs! He is the quintessential Rodinhooder who is always eager to learn & help!
“I am Co-founder of GyanLab which I started in 2011 as a final year student to make learning fun for school students. I failed at scaling GyanLab’s original vision; but with the help of some of the most awesome advisors and investors was able to pivot and help grow GyanLab as a hyper-local marketplace to help parents and kids discover learning programs and activities.
We also run a national level challenge for school kids that currently has over 26k students participate annually. I am a Mechanical Engineer from MIT – Manipal. I have been a 99+ percentiler in CAT since 2013. I am a major, major Godfather fan :)”
What can you ask him about?
b) Student entrepreneurship (how to convince your parents as well as do’s and don’ts)
c) Any Social Issue (of India)
d) Your child’s education
e) Cooking (from the simplest thing right upto biryani)
Priyadeep is following this page – so go ahead and give him a shout in the comments below!
Twitter – @PriyadeepSinha
Adding these learnings Priyadeep shared about gyanlab in the comments:
Here are my 2 cents on what works in hardware education space and what does not based on our 3 years of struggle:
i) At GyanLab, we had built our own researched curriculum to study STEM and Life Skills in a completely hands-on manner with kits. These kits were either developed by us & manufactured in China (60%) or sourced from our trusted vendors from US / China / Korea / Japan (40%). We spent 2 years in building the product and innumerable number of man-hours with a lot of money as well. That was our first mistake. We spent too much time building the ‘perfect product’
ii) Our marketing dept was only me. Had we diverted about 30 – 40% of the funds ‘wasted’ on products, we could have built decent 3 – 4 member Marketing team that would have worked around the clock in assisting me that would have helped us close more deals faster
iii) Pricing and Human Resources were a concern. At the peak, we were working with 19 schools, we had to provide a dedicated Coach in 16 of them. We initially felt that we would like to place our Coaches to work with school teachers and get them trained over the period of a year but the schools got too used to having our people around. When we wanted school teachers to take charge of GyanLab centres inside schools, they disagreed. It was too much of an expense. Our partner schools were spread across 5 states. Our pricing accounted for in such a way that we would only break even during the 2nd year in a school to keep the costs affordable. That was wrong too.
So, what ended up happening was that we had a world class product (awarded by almost everybody who saw it 🙂 ) and decent revenues but no visibility of profits in the near future. We were able to raise small funds from our family and advisors but failed to get any large ticket follow on funding despite appraching most investors. Everyone was too sceptic to invest in hardware and education simultaneously 😉 That is still the case. There is so far no success story in this B2B space with maybe the exception of iDiscoveri (they are more of an assessment company now) and EduSports
New innovations in ed-tech are very necessary. But the primary focus needs to be able to sell to schools if you in B2B space.
There are certain problems in the school space including:
i) The user, customer and decision maker are all different people
ii) Principals have limited control over finance. In most of the even larger schools, if your average ask as a provider is over Rs 1 lac, you will have to deal with and convince the Trustee who, again in most cases, has nothing to do with education
iii) Sales cycles are really long 6 – 9 months in most cases and regular follow ups are the only way you can enter a school
iv) Barring some of the really progressive schools, most schools will look at an equation like this: If you are charging them say 50k annually, can they increase their sales by 150k – 200k by marketing your product? If the equation works, they take it.
I personally find the B2C space much more lucrative. Primary reason for that is your customer and decision maker is a parent in this case who has a real interest in the child’s welfare and is constantly on the look out for things that can be of good experience to their kids.