When things are falling apart for the Indian Edtech sector amid a funding winter, TeamLease Edtech, a part of staffing and human resources firm TeamLease services, is all bullish about raising new funds to the tune of INR 125 crore.
TeamLease Edtech is India’s leading learning solutions company making India Employable, by working with leading Universities and Corporates across the country. The startup also plans to file for an IPO in the next few years riding on the back of the company’s stellar performance. IndiaTechDesk team caught up with TeamLease Edtech founder and chief executive Shantanu Rooj to understand how the Indian Edtech sector is shaping up and where it is heading.
Shantanu Rooj is the Founder and CEO of Teamlease Edtech Limited, formerly known as Schoolguru. A prolific scholar and school topper, he completed his Master’s in Business Administration from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. He later finished his Executive Management Program in Global Business Management from IIM Kolkata.
He has more than 17 years of experience in Information Technology Architecting and Consulting. He founded Broadllyne with an innovative concept of providing Managed Software Services to the Education industry after having successful stints with various Multinational Companies in the IT sector. He was also one of the founder directors of Paradyne (now called Glodyne).
Would you please briefly inform us of the specifics of the client base?
TeamLease EdTech works with 50 of India’s most reputed universities and about 4500 large corporate houses. The innovation that the company brings at the intersection of education, employability and employment has a significant impact on a large number of learners.
We help Universities launch, run and manage their Online Programs and help Institutes improve the employability of their students through our Apprenticeship linked skilling programs and help Corporates upskill and reskill their workforce to enhance productivity and build a talent supply chain.
TeamLease EdTech provides a modular multimodal model of learning that works across multiple classrooms – Online, Onsite, On-Job and Virtual to provide a seamless learning experience to the learner. TL Edtech trains 5 Lakh students on its platform through 9 Indian languages across 16 Indian states, assisting in their upskilling and skilling initiatives and managing over 200 degree, diploma, and certificate programs.
How are your clients benefiting from your services? Would you please explain with an example?
TeamLease EdTech helps Universities manage their Online Programs through its managed services platform. We help universities enroll more students in their programs through our digital marketing initiatives, help them improve their academic delivery, improve student support services and conduct seamless online assessments.
Our flagship program, Apprenticeship Embedded Degree Programs, created through our partnership with prominent universities and reputed employers, provides students an opportunity to learn the theory papers from the university and the on-job skills at the employer’s premises help improve the employability of the graduates significantly. Our corporate clients look at us as their partner, helping them create sustainable talent supply chains, help enhance the productivity of their employees and reduce employee retention.
When Edtech startups in India face scaling issues, TeamLease Edtech is on a growth trajectory. Would you please explain what has worked for your company?
With the pandemic ebbing, the world is moving towards a more sustainable education format. Since the world is moving back to classrooms, there is a recognition that the rate of growth may start normalizing soon. As soon as the health crisis hit humanity, everyone, with the help of online learning, moved into a business resilience mode – Edtech came to the rescue and provided continuity to the industry. But that was during Pandemic! A few large well-funded edtech players had built up excess capacity in anticipation of growing demand. Hence, they have started shedding off the extra baggage.
Despite all its advantages, online education is not the solution to all problems. As the world goes back to normalcy, the industry has started going back to a hybrid mode of learning – the schools have albeit started going back to classrooms; but those classrooms are different now. The future of learning involves multiple life forms of education. It will possibly be Always ON, on the go, on-campus, online, onsite, on the job, multimodal, stackable, crowdsourced, and gamified! Focusing on a purely online education model would limit the addressable market for many edtech companies.
In the post pandemic world, there is a recognition of the fact that modularity with multiple pathways of vertical and horizontal connectivity between certificates, diplomas and degrees because students need different levels of matching, repair, prepare and upgrade would be essential for learner success.
TeamLease EdTech has always believed in a multimodal classroom with an equivalence of learning on-campus, online, onsite, and on-the-job, with most knowledge having a blended experience. We have always believed in constantly warming and not blowing hot or cold – we just stayed our course. Hence, we have been one of the few B2B edtech players consistently growing and profitable.
What are your expansion plans, and how do you plan to move forward in the future?
We are looking at near 100 percent growth for the next three years. Keeping in line with the same, we plan to expand our team from the current 300 members to about 1000 members in the next few years. We are also keeping our eyes open for inorganic opportunities that may come our way – something that has a close adjacency to our line of business, has demonstrated traction and has a credible team would be attractive from a strategic investment point of view.
Would you please elaborate on how TeamLease has taken up the challenges ailing the education sector in the country and solved them?
Problems in education have been around long; Our education metrics need to shift from inputs (teacher salaries, teacher qualifications, technology-enabled classrooms, buildings, etc.) to outcomes. Differentiation and Personalization are necessary to make things easier and make learning accessible by tapping into motivations and abilities.
Assessment needs to shift from annual exams to regular feedback. Teachers knowing the content is not the same as their ability to create learning. Timetables are an industrial-era model of one size fits all that blunt choices and learner agency. And while there is an element of eating your spinach in all education, universities primarily work for front-row students.
Lifelong learning needs a continuum between preparation, repair and upgrade. Employability – or the ability to finance education with third-party funding and pay it back after employment – is becoming an essential objective as traditional funding sources focus strongly on outcomes.
The Indian job market is evolving with four transitions; farm to non-farm, rural to urban, subsistence self-employment to decent wage employment, and informal enterprises to formal enterprises. Our binding constraint has shifted from jobs to wages.
Multinational companies no longer have an unfair advantage over Indian employers and startups with employer brands. While we will never reach the 45 percent peak of any country’s labor force in manufacturing (Britain in World War 2), manufacturing can be from 11 percent to 20 percent driven by domestic consumption (Make-in-India might be Make-for-India).
But our services bias will continue, and the fastest growing job function in the next decade will be sales, customer service, and logistics across healthcare, hospitality, consumer durables, and education. Our economic complexity is driving India’s development; we make everything and do everything (even if we don’t always do it well or at scale). This economic complexity provides valuable habitat, catalyst and user for our University system.
TeamLease EdTech’s mission of Making India Employable has been at the forefront of this revolution, helping universities create engaging, purposeful and employable education.
Would you please talk with data about the demand for such services and how they will evolve in the future?
The NEP, a vision document for India’s education system, speaks about a multimodal and modular education framework that focuses on building academic excellence and developing workplace skills. TeamLease EdTech has been professing for quite some time and hence has tuned its products and services to ensure that our clients improve the learning outcome and the employability of their learners and that employers can address their keep challenges of employee productivity. Our team is constantly thinking of Making India Employable. Our clients and partners believe in our business model, which is modeled around mutual wins.
What are some of your current focus areas?
Helping improve the students’ employability through our innovative program – Degree apprenticeships. This embeds the principles of Learning by Doing, Earning while Learning, Learning with Flexibility, Learning with Modularity and Learning with higher Signalling value. This also brings innovation in higher education financing by mobilizing employers to finance higher education for the learner. We are convinced that, at scale, this will be one of the country’s most significant reforms of higher education.