Edu-tech start-up ConceptOwl seeks to raise Rs100 crore

ConceptOwl, a technology-driven IIT-JEE coaching platform, delivers personalized coaching and data-driven analytics


ConceptOwl plans to open around seven coaching centres this year, starting with Kerala.
ConceptOwl plans to open around seven coaching centres this year, starting with Kerala.

Mumbai: Kerala-based ConceptOwl, an education technology (ed-tech) start-up founded by former private equity professional Rajan Singh, is looking to raise up to Rs.100 crore from private equity investors to set up coaching centres across the country.

ConceptOwl is a technology-driven IIT-JEE coaching platform. The start-up’s mobile and web app deliver personalized coaching and data-driven analytics.

“When we started off with ConceptOwl about one-and-a-half years ago, we were a pure technology platform. Our start-up is a joint venture with the renowned Kota-based Bansal Classes, which is a pioneer and a big brand in IIT JEE coaching. We are now looking to go offline and will be setting up coaching centres in tier II and III cities across the country,” said Singh, who has served as the commissioner of police of Thiruvananthapuram. An IIT graduate and Wharton MBA, he was also a consultant with McKinsey in New York.

The start-up plans to roll out over 100 centres across the country. The centres will be run under the brand ‘Bansal Classes’ and will leverage the ConceptOwl technology platform to provide a differentiated coaching centre experience, said Singh, adding that most of the funds raised would go towards setting up the coaching centres. The start-up raised $500,000 in angel funding around two years ago.

ConceptOwl plans to open around seven centres this year, starting with Kerala.

Singh is currently in the process of hiring a banker to advise on the fund-raise and expects to launch the process soon.

According to him, the coaching industry is a substantive market opportunity and ripe for disruption through use of technology.

“Even though coaching has been around for a long time, there is actually a huge gap in the availability of quality coaching infrastructure throughout the country,” said Singh.

The coaching centres will follow the standard classroom teaching methodology of lectures of Bansal Classes, but the testing practice will be moved to the company’s mobile technology platform. Adding the technology platform to the traditional classroom model allows one to provide a more personalized learning experience to students, he said.

Historically, the education and healthcare markets have been very big markets and have always been of keen interest to venture capital investors, said Mukul Singhal of Pravega Ventures, an early-stage VC fund.

ConceptOwl is currently running pilots in two coaching centres in Kerala. Apart from IIT JEE coaching, the start-up also plans to provide coaching for medical entrance exams and classes 9, 10, 11 and 12.

ConceptOwl’s plans to raise funds comes at a time when ed-tech start-ups have seen strong investment traction from investors.

Earlier this month, ed-tech start-up Byju’s, owned by Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd, said that it had raised $50 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and existing investors Sequoia Capital, Belgian investment firm Sofina SA, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Times Internet Ltd.

In March, the company had raised $75 million in a Series C round from Sequoia Capital and Sofina, the largest transaction till date in the Indian ed-tech space.

According to data from Venture Intelligence, the ed-tech space has seen investments worth $169 million, across 17 deals, so far this year, compared to $68 million that was invested across 20 deals in 2015.

“In the last two years, there has been significant activity in the ed-tech space. Given the increased smartphone penetration the target market has become much more large for ed-tech firms and we are also seeing newer business models, all of which is attracting VCs,” Singhal of Pravega Ventures said.

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