The Economic Times, VC Circle and other media reported how education tech start-up Myly, which also has an app by the same name, raised $100,000 in seed funding. Gaurav Mundar, co-founder and CEO, Myly and Madhup Bansal, co-founder tell Digital Creed what attracted the investor and how this product is unique from the plethora of ed-tech solutions in India. A quick check on usage statistics shows that the solution is actually being used in Indian schools and could actually replace WhatsApp, SMS, and email as the de facto communication channel. In fact, Myly just got it’s first international customer, a university in Turkey. It will raise another round of funding later this year. The Myly app is used in 250 Indian schools, by 35,000 students. Excerpts from the tele-interview.
Q. What was it that attracted the investor, Newbie Promoter Private Limited?
It was two or three things. The scalability of the idea and our vision to scale it globally.
Secondly, the combination of the two co-founders was critical for them. They prefer companies with two co-founders. I come from a tech and operations background and Madhup (Bansal) comes from a marketing background. So we complement each other’s skills.
Q. Which segment are you targeting?
There are 30 lakh education institutes in India. The most expensive schools are in the top of the pyramid. We are not targeting the top 10 schools; we do not cater to the schools that charge high fees. For instance, Delhi Public School has a school ERP system and asked us if we could integrate our app.
We are not selling this solution to government schools at the moment. Our target schools are the remaining 90 percent of schools which have no technology. These schools perceive technology to be expensive, complex, and they have no manpower for IT. That’s the segment we target.
Q. Who is your key customer?
The key customer for us is the educational institution. When the institute adopts our solution and mandates its use, the whole system adopts it. This gives the institution complete control over the communication. Otherwise, if we target the teacher, they will use a solution of their choice, and what works best for them.
Q. There are so many edu-tech products available. What makes Myly app so unique?
There are four differentiators. One, our app is free. Two, you don’t need to buy any computers or licensed software to use it. It works with what you currently have: your mobile and tablet. Three, it’s suitable for all educational institutions. Four, it is transaction capable. You can pay fees via a wallet, netbanking, credit/debit cards.
Our solution works over the cloud, and it is inexpensive and simple to use. It even works over a 2G network. Wi-Fi is not available in most schools.
What’s more, if any school is unhappy with our solution, they can walk away with their data.
Q. What problem does the Myly app solve?
If you look back on how the school would communicate with parents, you will remember that you had a diary or calendar. And “notices” or circulars were attached to this calendar. But what if my child missed a day at school? What if my child misplaced the circular? And older children intentionally remove these circulars so that their parents do not see these at home.
So there is a communication gap between educational institutions, students and parents. We are trying to eliminate this communication gap. The ultimate aim is involving parents in the learning of the students and improving learning outcomes.
When a mobile app is available for everything, why do schools need to use a paper-based communication system?
Q. So how does a school get started if they want to use the Myly app?
The school has to sign up on our website and upload the database of numbers for students, parents and teachers. Everyone then receives an SMS with a link to download the Myly app. The user ID and password is also mentioned in this SMS.
Q. What are some of the big concerns you faced as you launched the app? How did you address the challenges?
When we roll out the app, people don’t download it. We see 30 percent app adoption in the first month. That creates a dilemma for the school. But the communication has to reach everyone.
So we devised a parallel communication system that integrates SMS in the system. Anyone who is not using the app will receive SMS notifications from the school. The system decides whether to send an SMS or a message through the app. Generally, we see 80 percent using the app and 20 percent using SMS over time. The 20 percent are those who continue to use feature phones, or those who are not tech-savvy.
Q. What is your business model? If the app is free, how do you earn revenue?
While the app is free to use, we earn our revenue through premium modules and learning content. The premium modules are optional. They are: transport management (parents can track the location of their child); advanced fee analytics; fee collection.
Secondly, when we have a large base of students using it, we would offer online courses at a fee. These courses would range from vocational courses to language learning to tutor-based instruction.
Q. What features will be included in the next version?
We want to integrate the RFID and Biometrics attendance system into the app. And then the advanced fee collection modules. We will also tie up with more vendors for payments: wallets, payment gateways etc.
Q. What is your mission?
We want to create empowered communities with all the stake holders in the education system creating and absorbing content – on our platform.