Every batch in every college has different sets of students – those who attend all classes, those who don’t, the ones who are always engaged in extra curricular activities, the ones who never show up until the exams are around etc. In the absence of a common communication system, students often rely on their peers (who do attend classes) about information on assignments, datesheets, other schedules etc. Certain colleges and universities have developed their own digital notice boards to keep students up to date with any major events. However, one hasn’t solved the problem of updating them with daily assignments and announcements.
In 2012, a then 22 year old Rohit Gupta felt the need of having a ‘common notice board’ where students may get all the information’s on assignments and other academic activities, and a platform to connect all students of different campuses for an exchange of cultural and technical ideas. Owing to his passion for coding, he ventured out to build such a platform himself, which we now know as Campus Karma.
What is Campus Karma?
Kolkata-based, Campus Karma is a platform for colleges, teachers and students across India to share academic information, study material, campus-related updates, and exchange ideas. “While most social networking sites stops at just connecting people and providing a platform for social exchanges, Campus Karma takes a step ahead to connect the youth of India who are in search of campus news and activities that have taken place in the past, happening now or are scheduled to happen soon at different campuses of India” says Rohit.
Dealing with additional commonly faced problems, the portal also contains an online aptitude program for students to practice for much anticipated ‘campus recruitments’ and various other competitive exams. Further it offers features like an online compiler supporting over 60 languages for technical students etc.
Business Model & Progress
The company claims to have over 8500 users with around 450 registered colleges from India. Once the site is popular among the students, the startup targets to generate revenue via advertisements and training.
At present, apart from online activities, Campus karma is trying to assist the student community through workshops. Rohit says “We recently conducted our first Internet of Things (IoT) workshop which was a huge success and also we are getting request from various colleges to conduct a similar workshop on IoT on their campus as well.” These are paid workshops and training sessions though which it generates revenue.
Challenges and Solutions Deployed
When asked about the challenges faced, Rohit mentioned “As I am from a technical background, building a site was not a challenge but promoting it, was. Even for that, I have written custom scripts to auto post stuff like aptitude questions, promotion messages etc. on Facebook using their APIs.”
In order to help promote the product in the absence of a marketing team, there are have 20-30 campus ambassadors from pan India evangelising Campus Karma.
Rohit says that he is the sole member maintaining the website. He mentions – “80% of the processes for Campus Karma have been automated like removing unvalidated user after 7 days, cleaning and repairing of database on weekly basis, generating daily report of user count, groups count etc., backing up data to a cloud server using their APIs etc. This not only helps in maintaining the website but also saves my time.”
The firm hasn’t raised any external investment, neither does it intend to. The founder is confident to bootstrap and scale the venture through its current services cum product model.
The website has a relatively simple user interface considering the functionalities that it possesses. The team is however continually working on it, and on an Android app as well.
On an interesting note, Facebook too had been started to create a social network for students back in 2004, the rest is history. At present, as mentioned above, certain colleges do have a dedicated portals for academic material, announcements. Some also have local networks for students to interact. Both these methods are still restricted to individual colleges.
With over 35000 colleges in India, there might be a scope of a niche network for students to thrive. The question still remains if it would be able to replace intra-college set ups which might more sense for both students and colleges for a more personalised experience.