Foradian Technologies is now considered a leading provider of enterprise software solutions for education institutions. But like any other startup their journey has also been full of challenges and hurdles.
In spite of those challenges, the growth of the company has awestricken many since its formation in a small town Kasargod, Kerala in 2009 (shifted now in Bangalore). The story of Foradian is surely inspirational for each entrepreneur especially for those from small towns.
We recently got the time to chat with Vishwajith, one of the co-founders, who shared with us about the journey of Foradian Technologies.
The Team and The Start
“We were 8 childhood friends from the states of Kerala and Karnataka who had experiences in different schools, colleges and companies. We together decided to take the path of entrepreneurship. We had no idea what product should look like and for whom should we make the same. But the decision to do something of our own was firm. We started our journey as a small web development firm in 2009,” says Vishwajith.
But he adds that within few months of starting up they decided to develop an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for educational institutions.
Various products and services offered by Foradian till date
Foradian has two main products – Fedena and Uzity.
Fedena is a multipurpose school management software which is used by thousands of educational institutions worldwide for all administration, management and learning related activities. Over 40,000 institutions use Fedena management information system to manage students, teachers, employees, courses and all the system and process related to running the institute efficiently.
“As part of Fedena, we have a marketplace for institutions called “Fedena Marketplace”. This is a one-stop shop for tools you need to run their institution. They can add functionality to Fedena school management information system using the different plugins available in this marketplace,” says Vishwajith.
Another product which they have launched is “Uzity”, which is a collaborative system for e-learning contents and textbooks online. Uzity enables a better and neutral e-learning ecosystem for every organization, teacher and learner around the world.
“At present our product Fedena currently helps us with majority of revenues (million dollars), a good profit margin and has over 20 million students and teachers benefiting from it worldwide,” says Vishwajith.
What is that customers or schools like the most about Fedena?
“One of the key factors to Fedena’s popularity and immense global success is the fact that it is open source. Fedena has the core software and functionality for free, it’s the plug-ins which are paid for. And the paid plug-ins provide different levels of customization allowing institutions to meet their individual needs. This is something customers have appreciated apart from the simple UI and UX,” says Vishwajith.
“The basic version is available free of cost, and we earn revenues from installation, customization and training services of Fedena,” he adds.
Game changer for Foradian
It was during the course of their work that a visit from an official from a school nearby that forever changed Foradian’s story. The school had wanted Foradian to provide services to help them manage their institution.
Foradian got on-board another game-changer that was - the Department of Education and the Government of Kerala. The company is successfully deployed in over 15,000 schools in Kerala post their contract with the Kerala Government.
Parts of the world where Fedena is popular
Fedena currently has 80% of its revenue from Latin America, Africa, Middle East and India, though they have downloads from almost all countries and territories across the globe.
Investments seen by Foradian tilldate
“We have received two rounds of funding till now. It was an amount of 75 lakh in 2010 which we all had raised from relatives, friends and families of partners. And then in the end of 2014, we got an investment of 2 million dollars from William Bissell, MD, Fab India,” says Vishwajith.
What were the biggest challenges for Foradian in early days? And how are they different to challenges you face today?
Having enough revenues for sustenance and hiring good talents were the two major challenges in early days for Foradian.
“Finding an ROR guy with shoestring budget was tough, but we solved this challenge by hiring freshers and training them for 6 months. And for the challenge of revenues we worked as a web services company for many months,” says Vishwajith.
The other challenges they faced were no smaller.
“The initial days were not easy for the 8 of us, as another difficult hurdle we had to overcome was the pressure that they faced from society. While our parents supported them, it was difficult surviving in an environment where entrepreneurs weren’t given respect,” says Vishwajith.
The product development challenges they faced was that they used to customize Fedena for every school initially. This was a big challenge for them to deliver as well as scale. They discovered that scaling would require Fedena to be a single product to be sold to everyone. And they solved the problem with plug-in architecture which makes their system optimized for customization.
“Now the challenges are different, now the challenges are to scale it up. We are now in a growth stage from an early stage so the challenges are surely to increase the growth rate”, says Vishwajith.
Future Plans, Plans to Scale
The company has now shifted their office from Kasargod to Bangalore realizing that location was crucial to growth. And the surprising news is that they registered a 250-350% increase in revenues once they made the move. They have focus on expansion into more saturated markets like the US and Europe with their products.
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