MyBskool.com caters to half a million registered learners currently, and is targeting three million users by 2014
His first venture was inspired by India’s low-cost aviation pioneer Captain G R Gopinath, and his latest by global platforms such as Coursera (which has partnered with Stanford University) and edX (a non-profit organisation created by Harvard and MIT), which offer free mass online courses. His goal is to make “premium” educational courses affordable.
Meet Chennai-based Swaminathan K, 39, a serial entrepreneur who has founded and exited half a dozen businesses in a little over a decade. The first was eGurucool.com (India’s first low cost e-learning portal), and it was followed by Aspire Learning, SuperKidz, Scholars League, smartlearnwebtv.com, and myBskool.com - all started between the years 2000 and 2011.
An alumnus of IIM Bangalore who started his career at NIIT, Swaminathan has partly or fully exited his previous ventures and is now mostly involved with myBskool.com, of which he is founder and chief executive officer, and which he says is the country’s largest virtual B-school.
“Don’t be emotionally attached to your business – you can be passionate towards your business but not emotional,” says Swaminathan about his tendency to periodically exit businesses.
His first venture, eGurucool, was sold to NIIT. He then exited his second business, Aspire Learning, to start smartlearnwebtv.com. It was targeted at students who appeared for the Indian Institutes of Technology Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE), and allowed students to access training materials. In 2010, however, Swaminathan sold this venture to Chennai-based Edserv Softsystems Ltd.
Next, he obtained $1 million (around Rs 5 crore) as seed funding from K B Chandrasekhar – a Chennai-born entrepreneur now living in the United States, and one of Swaminathan’s mentors – for his latest venture, myBskool.com, the idea for which was triggered by a government report that said India would require 800 universities and 35,000 colleges to achieve a gross enrollment ratio of 30 per cent.
Swaminathan asked himself: why not blend technology and learning, and provide management education which, with some 3,500 schools and around 1.2 million people doing distance learning courses, was seeing a boom? An MBA at a premier Indian B-school, with its quality faculty, pedagogy and case studies, costsRs 10-15 lakh.
Swaminathan decided to replicate it online and offer it at a tiny fraction of this cost. He approached the Indian Institutes of Managements (IIMs), Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur, and company CEOs, seeking to enlist their know-how and support in offering programmes targeted at working professionals with a portable classroom showing video clips of lectures by leading management gurus in the country.
MyBskool has tied up with IIM-Ranchi and Madras Management Association (MMA) to launch for the first time in India a free online ‘mini MBA’ course. It now runs a fee-based programme certified by the MMA, the content for which is created by IIM Ranchi.
Swaminathan says that initiatives like Coursera and edX, with a combined investment of over $100 million, have revolutionised higher education the world over. MyBskool announced its first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) earlier this year.
Today it caters to half a million registered learners, mainly from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, and is targeting three million registered users by 2014. It plans to raise around $3 million in the next round of funding (which will be invested in improved infrastructure, content, partners and a placement cell) and is planning to offer more domain-specific courses. By 2014, the company expects to clock revenues of Rs 20 crore.
While myBskool.com courses are free, says Swaminathan, only those interested in a certification (which will be issued by MMA after the candidate undergoes an independent assessment by it) will be charged a fee.
The certification programme costs Rs 5,500 per candidate, but a range of new courses are planned, for which the fee may go up to Rs 15,000. “If just one per cent of the three million users take up the certification programme, we can achieve the turnover target,” says Swaminathan.
Source: Education News