School of Accelerated Learning (SOAL), India’s first hybrid learning venture has closed its first round of funding of USD $300,000 with Astarc Ventures, as the lead investor. Additionally, tech and startup leaders – Srinivas Kollipara, Founder – T-Hub, Ramki Gaddipatti, Founder & CTO – Zeta, and Krishnan Menon, Founder – BeeCash have also participated in this round.
SOAL is disrupting the centuries-old education system that neither develops relevant technical nor soft skills which are much needed for the 4th industrial revolution happening now. The company’s product Meta-Learning is a hybrid learning method. This method marries online learning’s access to offline learning’s engagement. The company is solving a two-fold problem – education and employability, where India’s recent engineer’s benefit as much as the talent starved industry. With average salaries at par with the top 20 Indian Engineering Colleges, graduates from SOAL’s program have recently started working with tech organisations like ShopClues, ClearTax, FactSet, ThoughtWorks, NowFloats, and Schrocken.
Gearing up for growth, founders Raj Desai, Varsha Bhambhani & Pratik Agarwal will use these funds to launch the second campus in Mumbai by December and beef up operations with a bouquet of programs in creative-tech such as Digital Marketing, AI, Blockchain and Design. In the next two years, SOAL aims to launch its tech-enabled learning spaces in metros as well as tier 2 cities.
Astarc Ventures, a Mumbai based venture fund, has invested in an array of technology ventures such as Virgin Hyperloop One, Rapido and PharmEasy. This is their first foray into learning-tech. Often the first movers to invest in a domain, the progressive thinking fund prides itself in collaborating with its founders.
Astarc strongly believes that the education market needs to be disrupted and School of Accelerated Learning’s focus on career development of Indian youth through quality education is the much-needed answer. “We think there is an acute shortage of demand and supply with respect to tech talent in the market and with the tech stacks evolving rapidly, an effective upskilling solution with the focus on the industry is the key to bridge the gap.”, says Mr. Salil Musale, the Director of Astarc Ventures.
The skill gap in tech talent today is huge. Founders of prominent tech startups Gaddipatti, whose startup – Zeta recently joined hands with international giant Sodexo and Menon, a serial techpreneur from Indonesia, both witnessed the employability gap while building their teams too. They’re putting all their weight behind eliminating the root cause of the issue. Kollipara, President, India chapter, Global Entrepreneurship Network who founded and brought T-Hub, India’s largest incubator to its present glory, is convinced that SOAL will boost India’s innovation and startup ecosystem.
The founders deeply believe in the scale of impact that SOAL will have. Co-founder Pratik Agarwal says, “With SOAL, we are not only impacting that one individual but an entire bunch of people around them. Raising someone’s aspiration trickles down through generations and that is the impact that we, at SOAL, are looking at. We are here to build what a college of the 21st century needs to look like- dynamic, accessible, and fast. Our learners are picking up skills that will help them embrace and drive disruption. We are on our way to changing how we learn tech forever, and this is just the beginning!”
School Of Accelerated Learning (SOAL) is a 21st century parallel education institute that aims to nurture students into disruptive, tech-empowered creators and leaders who can enable rapid progress of the society. Mr. Pratik Agarwal, Mr. Raj Desai, and Ms. Varsha Bhambhani, started SOAL with the aim of reforming learning and designing student-first environments in developing economies.
It’s workplace simulating learning spaces are enabled by their proprietary behavior engineering tech platform – Delta which motivates and inspires every learner to form a strong understanding of computer science principles. Built on a proprietary Meta-Learning framework, Delta is aimed to develop generalist thinking, self-learning and problem-solving abilities in its users who can start tech-powered movements that meet the needs of the 21st century.
The Global recruitment head at Go-Jek, Pradeep Desu has held the similar position and built tech teams at Facebook, Intel, Uber amongst many other top tech companies. He along with other veterans from tech, and academia such as the ex-dean of ISB have been instrumental in putting together the learning outcomes at SOAL and what the venture needs to achieve for its learners.
Currently, fostering its 18th cohort in partnership with T-Hub, Hyderabad, the Program is co-created with round-the-year support from leading companies and disruptive organizations such as Uber, UrbanClap, Practo, NowFloats, Standard Chartered, CERN, etc.
MEET THE FOUNDERS
Raj Desai, Pratik Agarwal & Varsha Bhambhani
Raj Desai & Pratik Agarwal are serial entrepreneurs from Mumbai. They have founded and run successful companies in the field of Technology, Music and Entertainment and their most recent foray is in Education. The duo met during undergrad at Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics and branched out to pursue their passions. Raj is an alumnus of DevBootcamp – a computer programming bootcamp in San Francisco while Pratik graduated from India’s premier business school – ISB, Hyderabad.
ThinkScream, adjudged one of the Top 5 startups in India by CNN-IBN, founded by Raj and Pratik is one of the premier companies for WiFi solutions for high-density setups. ThinkScream has worked with most major music festivals in India along with working with some of the premier companies in India across the fields of Technology, Finance, Networking, FMCG and Entertainment. Pratik & Raj also co-founded TheLostParty – a community-driven music festival built by the arts, design, music, dance and makers fraternity of India.
Meanwhile, Varsha was gathering expertise in learning. She quit her lucrative job at India’s leading youth channel – MTV to pursue a more purpose-driven career. After volunteering as a primary teacher at Haji Public School, Kashmir, Varsha worked as a student coach, curriculum designer and teacher trainer at RN Podar School, Mumbai.
Prior to founding SOAL, she headed Pehlay Akshar, a pan-India functional English teaching program under the aegis of RPG Enterprises for children from developing communities touching the lives of nearly 10000 Indian youth. Varsha is now a project officer for the Global Schools Program with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network-Youth, advocating the education of Sustainable Development Goals for the Indian youth.
Having been friends for more than a decade, the trio has come together to launch School of Accelerated Learning in 2017 marrying their expertise in learning, business, and tech.