Former Discovery CEO Karan Bajaj’s edutech startup WhiteHat Jr to go global soon
WhiteHat Jris the latest venture of former Discovery Networks CEO, Karan Bajaj.
- This edtech startup helps children between the age of 6 and 14 build market-ready apps, games and animations online, by using the fundamentals of coding.
- The idea is to train children from an early age and instill in them a spirit of creation.
- Following the initial success of the venture, Bajaj is confident it will do well in global markets too and will soon come up with a plan to take WhiteHat Jr to other countries.
Barely a year after launching
Based in Mumbai, this edutech startup helps children between the ages of 6 and 14 build market-ready apps, games and animations online, using the fundamentals of coding.
Within a year of its launch, Bajaj shares that WhiteHat Jr received a phenomenal reception from parents in India and is therefore hopeful that the global market will accept the product too. Since an edutech platform like this doesn’t really exist anywhere else currently, it is expected to do well even outside India. He adds that starting December, they will start pushing the startup internationally.
The idea for starting WhiteHat Jr came to Bajaj when he was reading about the Industrial Revolution and how Mathematics hadn’t been a part of school curriculum till then. “After the Industrial Revolution, every school had to create a new curriculum but it took them 10 years to implement that. I realized something similar is happening now. Today, consumer tech is at the center of every household but the school curriculums are extremely basic. Nobody is teaching children coding from an early age,” explains Bajaj.
Why parents are invested in the idea
As a part of WhiteHat Jr’s curriculum, a six and a half year old Venkat Raman Patnaik developed a reward management system app that keeps a record of a ‘to-do’ list for school children, along with reward points that they earn for it.
Similarly, 7-year-old Hirranyaa Rajani created a sign language app for the hearing impaired that benefits those with hearing impairment and those who want to learn sign language.
Bajaj says that parents are welcoming WhiteHat Jr wholeheartedly because they are seeing the world changing in front of their eyes. With more and more automation disrupting the industry, a lot of jobs are getting redundant. “With automation, conventional occupations are getting disrupted. And more and more parents are aware of that,” says Bajaj.
The startup has been witnessing 100% month-on-month growth since its launch in November 2018. “Between November and March, we were forming the product in beta and launched in April. After that, we doubled every month. We also raised our Series A funding very quickly in June, so the response we’ve been getting indicates that parents are quite aware of everything,” he adds.
While their current curriculum caters to children between the ages of 6-14, Bajaj says they will soon launch a curriculum for 9-12 grades too.
How WhiteHat Jr works
The model of WhiteHat Jr is simple. It is a web-based system, much like a virtual classroom, and the teacher to student ratio is 1:1. The kids have to book a session online which then connects them to the teachers. There is also a coding platform where the participants can practice coding. Each session is around 45 minutes to an hour long.
The sessions encourage children to develop apps, games and animation. “We are sending the top 1% of these kids to the US for a week-long mentorship with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. We also have an in-house team that helps them think on how to take a product and make it more market-ready,” says Bajaj.
Currently, around 3,000 students and 350 teachers are on-board. It is also heartening to see children from non-metro cities are coming on board too. The metro to non-metro ratio is about 55:45.
The future of WhiteHat Jr
In November, when Bajaj started the company, he raised a seed funding of $1.3 million. He has just raised a Series A of $10 million. “Right now we are running a positive cash flow business, so there’s no immediate need for more funding right now,” explains Bajaj.
The entity’s marketing and growth strategy would be linked to acquiring more users. “Right now we’ve only been doing B2C digital marketing but next we want to enter school channels and build more alliances. Till now, we’ve only done performance marketing but the outpouring of demand has been significant,” he adds.
Bajaj further adds that they might consider an ad campaign after their next round of funding and has a plan to go global. “Taking the organization global is an important part of the plan because nobody has ever heard of a six-year-old creating apps and products that are disruptive and market-ready. So I think it has a great potential globally too where parents have already seen consumer tech to be the centre of their households. The idea that their kids can be a part of a technologically-driven future or create that future is a resonant idea globally. Starting December, we're going to push for international markets, but those plans are still being defined,” Bajaj says.