In our quest to explore the journey of every education startup including the successes they get and challenges they face, today we would like to present to you an education startup called "Univariety".
Here's what we have got to know about Univariety from Mr. Jaideep Gupta, CEO and Founder.
How would you describe what your company is doing in minimum number of words?
Univariety creates post-school college planning systems within schools in India and abroad that empower thousands of school students to plan their career.
What problem are you solving and for whom? When and how did you realize that university counseling for Asian students is a good business opportunity?
The company aims to solve the most fundamental problem of higher education counseling that is faced by Asian school students at the undergraduate level. Univariety provides information about available scholarships, entrance examinations, reference books to prepare for the examinations and coaching centers in the proximity of students. Students can also be discovered by universities who believe that a specific program is particularly well-suited for that student. Univariety is associated with 200+ schools and 30,000 students.
What has been the feedback from students you have served, how satisfied are they with your counseling?
We have good feedback from schools as well as from students and their parents. Students find it helpful in getting information about different course options in India and abroad. The extensive information on universities and scholarships help them in getting fit into the best one. Univariety helps the students till the final stage of admission. GEM (Go Extra Mile), a premium service offered by Univariety has already been availed by hundreds of students across the country. We at Univariety have so far been able to help 25,000 students get placed for under-graduation courses across USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and UAE.
Why are you passionate about this company?
We believe the most important phase of a student’s life is the point where he/ she chooses the course that he will take up at the under-graduation level. By making the right choice, students can avoid issues like change of course in the middle of the academic year or getting confused about one’s career during the post-graduation stage. Students will also be able to zero-in on the right career path if he takes the decision after schools.
We felt that there should be a system where a student can “be discovered” by colleges which she/he wasn’t even aware of but which can be a good fit for them. Think of a job portal where you can get a request to connect from multiple companies which you don’t even know. You may end up actually taking up the job with one of those companies. Here, the benefit is that the student can receive admission offers and scholarships from institutes which s/he would otherwise never have known of. Also, it works both ways since colleges also would not have known that a particular student could be a good fit for the college, without a platform like this.
To us, it looked like online platforms have been created for many other less important things (social media, meeting people, dating etc.) in comparison to college education, which is surely a higher level need. Hence we decided to give this a go.
What is the biggest need for your startup? (e.g. funding, development, market access, channels, publicity)
Getting the right talent is the single most challenge that any startup faces in India. We find a lot of people who are qualified but not necessarily capable.
We were in a lookout for passionate employees, who could think like a consumer and did not restrict themselves to a 9 to 5 job. We wanted people who were driven by excellence and not by capability alone.
Tell us about your team, who do you have supporting you? How did this start?
Initially Varun and I started this company from UK and Singapore respectively. Later we set up our head-office in Hyderabad where we now have a 60 member team who provide off-line counseling, a core technology team and a marketing team who reach out to the schools.
How does Univariety solution work? The value addition to various stakeholders – Universities, students and schools?
Univariety is a technology solution that helps students make the best possible choice while selecting his graduation course.
As of now, we have direct tie-ups with schools whose students can create profiles on our website, free of cost. Based on the student’s interests and academic performance throughout the year, the students will be able to choose the course he likes and the best colleges across the globe for which he may be eligible. We also guide students and help them identify the best options by training the schools counselors on how to help the student.
Students are able to identify the best option for them by being a part of this platform and they can also apply for the best scholarships that will enable them to help their parents with the financial expenses. Parents can also help their students by being well informed about all the options through our website. Schools definitely benefit if they are able to provide their own students a service that can help them make the right choice in course and college.
In many of the schools, we are actually training nominated teachers to start functioning as part-time in-school counsellors.
For the universities, we provide a very effective and simple way to connect with the students who show direct interest in them. It is meant to help focus marketing efforts and budgets.
What/Who motivates you? Any thought leader or companies with innovation which you follow for success?
Jack Ma, the founder of the Alibaba group and Reid Hoffman, the founder of Linkedin are the two innovative leaders who motivate us.
We aspire to create a global business and make processes less people intensive and more scalable.
What is the role of technology in making higher education counselling unbiased and structured?
Today, students who are considering a particular college for graduation are making their choices in isolation and with imperfect information (guided by friends, parents etc. who are not fully aware themselves about the options).
On the Univariety platform, a student would just need to create his profile and then he can go step by step from a stage of lack of clarity about the course he is interested in to the stage of getting an admission. That is what we have as our tagline too - ‘Aspiration to Admission’.
- Finalizing what he wants to study and where he can afford to study (country)
- Understanding what tests he needs to take and whether he needs to take coaching
- Which are the recommended coaching institutes near his place?
- Short listing best fit colleges and finalizing a list
- Applying to short listed colleges
- Making the final choice and then post admission formalities
In short each student would see results based on his interests and his academic performance. This kind of personalized search result helps parents as well as students to choose the best available options with spending too much time just exploring without knowing what is available.
Our focus is on generating interest or provisional offers from multiple universities for the student prior to his even submitting a formal application. So a student can easily get an interest from 20+ universities which match his preferences.
How has the journey been so far for Univariety?
The company’s performance is good so far. Currently, we are associated with 200+ schools and 30,000+ students. Our GEM (Go Extra Mile) premium service is availed by hundreds of students. This is evident to prove that the college counseling service has benefitted a lot and our company is flourishing successfully.
What are the biggest challenges of your startup?
The biggest challenge for our start-up would be for schools to understand the need for this service and overcome the resistance to adopt a new method of helping students achieve their dreams.
What are the future plans for Univariety? (Where do you see Univariety in 6 or 12 or 18 months from now? (e.g. product milestones, team size, potential growth/revenue targets).
We plan to work with atleast 350 schools by end of 2014.
We are also looking at ways to open up the ‘B2C’ segment wherein students across Asia could transact with universities and other education partners across the world. These transactions could be in terms of expressions of interest, provisional offers of admission, offers of admission and scholarships.
The geographical focus of this business would be for students from the Indian sub-continent, Middle East and South East Asia looking at studying in India and developed countries like US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.
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