Avagmah, a Bangalore-based edtech startup focussed on higher education, founded in 2013, announces investments by Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder and former CEO & MD of Infosys and Atul Nishar, founder of Hexaware and Aptech Computer Education. In the last 18 months Avagmah has secured $5 million in investments. In the same time it has grown 8 times, and has already become operationally profitable.
Avagmah will use the latest investment on technology enhancement in acquiring new Indian university clients. It currently works with three universities that include Pondicherry University, Bharathidasan University and Los Angeles-based UCLA Extension.
Kris Gopalakrishnan, an investee in Avagamah says, “The current brick and mortar higher education system is facing major challenges of excellence and access, with only 24 million students enrolled out of the potential 120 million. Universities and top tier institutions have to adopt technology to provide access to quality education to millions of working professionals and students in urban and remote India, which would then address the demand-supply gap of skilled talent. I see great potential in startups like Avagmah which can bring in positive disruption in our education system through technology.”
Avagmah provides state-of-the-art intuitive Avagmah Technology Platform (ATP) on a managed services model, assisting universities with digital marketing technology. It also provides application-based and web technology solutions for delivery of courses by universities. Avagmah offers web and mobile app platforms, helping universities manage the entire lifecycle of their students including marketing, admissions and other administration processes.
Atul Nishar of Aptech, who is also an investee in the startup says, “Shortage of quality faculty is the single major challenge which universities are facing today. Universities will gradually resort to using technology to increase their reach and ease faculty access to students. I firmly believe that education technology players like Avagmah will play an important role in the future of education in India.”
Millions of working professionals today who wish to continue their higher education for career growth are not able to because they cannot take a sabbatical from work and travel to the universities. University degree aspirants, thus, are forced to opt for multiple short term certificates. Using Avagmah’s globally benchmarked technology platform, universities are now helping busy working professionals and remote students study for a degree program on the go and connect with their faculty for lectures and doubt clearing even when travelling in the bus to work. At present, 45% of the students who are enrolled for various university courses through Avagmah’s Technology Platform are from Tier 2 & 3 cities.
Avagmah was founded by Karthik KS, an NIT Kurukshetra alumnus, a successful entrepreneur. Its leadership team includes Sankar Bora, co-founder of Myntra and an NIT Kozhikode alumnus and Prasad Palla an ex-Microsoft, Informatica, USA and IIT-K and IIM-B alumnus.
Karthik KS, founder and CEO of Avagmah says, “Avagmah spent the first two years in building a robust collaborative technology and demonstrating its business model at three of the university clients it had acquired. We are satisfied with the success in the initial phase, with one of the university clients reporting 200% growth in student enrollment in 12 months which reached itself to a much larger audience using Avagmah’s technology and services. Avagmah is now focussed on scaling its success to grow 10x in the next 2 years.”
Avagmah’s existing investors which include Lionrock Capital, Singapore; Ganesh Krishnan, founder and former CEO of TutorVista, a serial entrepreneur whose investment portfolio includes startups like Portea Medical, BigBasket, BlueStone and others; and Neeraj Bhargava, founder and CEO of Mumbai-based investment firm Zodius Capital, too participated in the existing round.
There are successful similar business models in the edtech space in USA, like Embanet and 2U.com, the latter having a current valuation of $ 1 billion after going public in March 2014. In comparison, Avagmah operates in a much larger market, where the challenges in quality education are much more severe and the cost of operation is just a fraction. The universities that Avagmah work with have constraints in terms of course delivery and tapping into the potential of the available student base.
Avagmah’s university clients also use the platform to reach to corporates who invest in employee education helping them to build their leadership pipeline without the employees having to go for an academic sabbatical. Many corporates including Convergys, Indiamart, Metlife, Quatrro, Fidelity Investments etc have sponsored their employees to undergo University courses through the Avagmah Technology Platform.