This is what makes Simplilearn one of the most effective Education Startups in recent times

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It's natural for startups to feel skeptical when entering a space which has not taken off yet or has a poor track record, but that is also where some of the biggest opportunities lie. For Simplilearn - an education startup which kicked off six years ago along with a few other online players, it was a risky affair to dive into the Ed-Tech space considering the general mood of investors was negative owing to the failure of several other education portals.

For some reason, nobody seemed to have been getting their model right until Simplilearn emerged. It slowly raced ahead of everybody else and that too in no time. It was able to win the confidence of some of the biggest investors. That meant there was money in its pocket and the startup had wings to fly.

Little had the firm's founder Krishna Kumar anticipated that his once personal blog where he would post free video lessons and practice tests during the 2009 financial crisis just to kill his boredom would soon emerge as a firm with over 500 employees training over 5 lakh professionals across the globe!

At a time when others were struggling to find the right model and make their mark in the Indian market, Simplilearn had got it right not just in India, but globally. In a candid chat with Kashyap Dalal, the Chief Business Officer at Simplilearn, we learnt some of the reasons why this Ed-Tech portal proved to be the best in the crowd:

The idea with which this Startup was launched
"The entire business started off more with the realization that there are sectors which are developing and growing so fast that normal academia does not have the ability to adapt to its pace. Typically, the cycle of curriculum updation at schools and colleges is 3 to 5 years. However, if you have to look at emerging fields like big data, cloud computing etc, every six months there's something new which is very critical for people to know. This is the reason we are clearly focused on extending education in some of these fast emerging technology areas," says Kashyap.

The Market they decided to cater to and why
He shares that the Simplilearn customers are working professionals .

"The goal is to give them competency in emerging fields so that they can go ahead in their career. Right from the beginning, we have been focused on building our courses in such a way that people who use Simplilearn get hands-on skills, and not just theoretical knowledge. We build courses thinking - if I wanted a person in my Big Data Team, what should he know. Apart from the professionals, the other market that we cater to is enterprises who want to train an entire team. This is again a very large line of business for us," says Kashyap.

The experts they got onboard for imparting education
They wanted people who are "on top of their game".

Kashyap says - "It is just incidental that most of the experts we have are based in the US. We just want people who are really on the cutting edge of the field and who can predict the future, as opposed to someone who is stuck in legacy systems. Their experience and knowledge helps us be on the cutting edge as well."

This forms one of the major reasons for Simplilearn's success. We asked him how they were able to rope in thought leaders like Joseph Steinberg. What Kashyap said makes for one more crucial success mantra and that is.....

This Ed-Tech portal didn't go the typical way
"Simplilearn started off on a global level. It is different compared to companies which start in India and then test the waters globally. Because the online footprint of Simplilearn is not that of an Indian startup, things have not been as difficult for us. More importantly, when you tell someone about your company, they don't see where it is based; they see the online footprint and what people are talking about you. If it looks great to them, there is no reason why they would feel skeptical about joining us and I think that is what happened with us too," says Kashyap.

Experts here are just not consultants, they are Advisory Board members
He adds - "Also, we give our experts the opportunity to become our business partners. They are not with us for part time assignments or on a consulting basis; they are our Advisory Board members. Therefore, we make it really very meaning for them to associate with us. It's simple; you need to have technology and a very large set up to be able to run a business. We tell them we have it, you give us the expertise and knowledge and we will drive the business."

The Way Simplilearn Courses were built
Their courses are highest on engagement. There are reasons behind this, Kashyap explains - "When a person starts a Simplilearn course, he decides his study plan, whether he wants to devote 3 or 6 hours a week to the course depending on his personal comfort. The system immediately starts building his course according to the inputs provided. On not adhering to the plan, reminder emails would go to him. More importantly, the courses are designed in a way that the first 15-20 minutes can get a user excited about pursuing it. It would talk about the industry, the high end education that the course will cover in the module and builds that entire context as to why it makes sense to do the course. So, before even starting out, the person has a bird's eye view on the path he is going to take and that makes it very easy for them to adopt the course and stay on, otherwise often when suddenly online courses dive into hard core learning aspects, user loses interest because he fails to understand what is being taught."

With nearly 40% revenues coming from both the US and the Indian market, even as this online education portal has become the market leader in India and is striving to sustain its place, in the US, Kashyap says, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done considering the dynamics there are different and the US market definitely has more competition in the Ed-tech space.

This company has a 70% course completion rate as opposed to rivals who are still at 14-15%, and you now know how folks at Simplilearn have been able to strike a chord with India's professional community and stay ahead of the curve.

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