UbQOOL, a Mumbai-based online learning and content site for students received the first round of funding of an undisclosed amount from Bollywood Star Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta.
The duo follow in the footsteps of Neha Dhupia, who owns Her Style.In, Salman Khan with Yatra and Being Human, Ajay Devgan with Ticketplease.Com, Vatsal Seth with Celebwears.com, and others such as Shilpa Shetty and Karishma Kapoor.
UbQOOL will launch its commercial version in the last week of April 2012. Initially it will be launched for Grades 7 to 10 for CBSE, ICSE and 2 state boards. Other Grades from K-6 and 11,12 and the support for other state boards will be provided by July 2012.
Speaking with Iamwire on their vision for the company, Ambika Das, co-founder of the company said, “UbQOOL is designed for the Digitally Wired Generation in order to allow them to learn the way that is most suitable for them at their own along with friends group with similar interest. It will also democratize education by breaking the barrier of the spending capacity of parents. We believe that this will bring a large impact to the next generation of our country.”
The site uses various techniques for making learning interactive and fun such as assessments, photos and symbols pop-ups during lessons etc. In terms of functionalities, the site allows the student to take down notes, share info on facebook as well as set the reading speed during lessons, besides allowing the student to interact with their friends and create and be part of groups.
In terms of business model, the students will pay for a subscription fee for the access or will be supported by sponsors in case they are not able to pay for the subscription. This way, the company intends to bring equal access to learning irrespective of the spending capacity of the parents. All the students will be able to learn using different type of content best suited for their learning style, being provided by multiple content providers both Indian and International.
On their long-term commitment and impact on education in India, Das, said, “In the second phase, UbQOOL will facilitate kids of rural and urban slums to access learning using the same platform and content collaborating with students from all across the globe to achieve its objective of making learning more accessible for everyone. We will make social impact through a profitable business and they need not be mutually exclusive.”
UbQOOL FutureTech was founded in June 2010 by a founding team comprising of Ambika Prasad Das of Ravenshaw College and past VP at Hurix Systems, and Debabrat Mishra who is an alumni of Xavier Institute of Management and has earlier worked with Hewitt Associates and Arthur Andersen. The company started operations in July 2011 and Jay and Juhi joined the firm from August 2011 as initial investor and co-promoters of the company.
For a recent entrant into the online learning space, the company is quite active in social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and has quite a good following.
According to a report by Anand Rathi Research, the Indian education sector is over $100 billion annually, and is set to grow on the back of rising demand from urban and semi-urban areas. Out of this, the market for tutorials stands at over $4.5 Billion and is set to grow to over $8 Billion by 2015.
As this is the most unregulated and unorganised segment of the industry, it has attracted a lot of investments from PE and other players.
Online coaching and learning resource centres and companies are a very lucrative side of the business, as scaling it does not involve the challenges of expanding physical presence across cities and localities as well as attrition of star teachers.