There is an increase in the number of edtech startups worldwide as per the trends in 2015 and first half of 2016; and India is also contributing a lot to the global edtech community with its innovative startups. Some catch our eyes, some don't but this week we came across an interesting edtech startup Kompanions.
While speaking to Yuvraj K Sharma and Gautam Arjun, the Co-Founders of Kompanions, here's what we explored about the company.
1. What would be the simplest way to explain about your company?
KOMPANIONS is an Indian EdTech-Sci organization that aims to build a more cognitively healthier and intellectually smarter planet by REVISUALIZING EDUCATION and working across the education landscape from K-12 through higher ed. Striving to accelerate intelligence and to keep the grey cells ticking.
For this, we have designed several products, aimed at different age groups and works upon neuroplasticity by deploying brain workouts, using some of the new and advanced approaches such as Gamification, Visualization, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
2. What is your company's core value proposition? What problem are you solving and for whom?
We are focused on Brain Training, keeping neuroplasticity as an important factor of our work/programs and use some of the new and most advanced approaches such as Gamification, Visualization, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
The core problem that we are trying to solve is a three part issue –
- Diagnosing and raising Brain performance in key areas such as Fluid & Crystallized Intelligence, Language Proficiency, Logical Reasoning, Creativity, Plausible Reasoning and Co-evolution.
- Reducing the gaps in learning, reasoning and aptitude.
- Providing a growth path towards improvement; as currently there isn’t a structured approach towards organic development and learning continua.
Lastly, our focus group is from toddlers to ninety years old.
3. What has been the market response till now? How do you plan to check on the user (for whom you are solving problem) satisfaction?
The initial response has been very encouraging. Everyone that we have interacted with, has liked the idea and a lot of them after understanding the nuances of our offerings have been forthcoming with suggestions/ideas and feedback for future enhancements. We are already working with some of the best schools in the country.
The fact that there is a slight information deficit, on areas like Brain Training for kids, adults and senior citizens, so there is some amount of effort that is required in terms of creating the right awareness (coupled with the fact that ‘Brain Training’ is also one of the most frequently-used but under-understood terms) and positioning.
In terms of staying connected and measuring the efficacy of our product. This is our USP. All our products have been built on a state of the art Assessment and Analytic Engine that gives us true feedback and helps to make improvements at both the customer as well as company end. The fact that one of our first products KUBE (Knowledge Cube) is a first of its kind edutaining product for kids; gives them the joy of playing and the adrenaline of gaming, not only keeps the user engaged but our state of the art technology also keeps track of essential growth parameters to track efficacy.
4. What inspired the idea of KOMPANIONS? What is the driving passion for this company? What is your vision?
We were doing really well in our corporate careers, but always had the driving urge to work for a cause and if the work can impact a larger audience and can contribute, even in the smallest ways towards building a healthier and brain fit planet, was enough for the idea of KOMPANIONS to be birthed.
At KOMPANIONS, we firmly believe that each and every individual has tremendous potential; it is all about unlocking it via varied channels. It is like being the OS where different applications can run to create future driven and amazing things. At KOMPANIONS we are deeply driven towards advancing the human race ahead and accelerating intelligence.
Our vision is to nurture an ecosystem that encourages creative and critical exploration, facilitates accelerated understanding and encourages individuals to cross frontiers, to go beyond the obvious and assist curious minds in the creation of NEW by positively impacting the BRAIN.
5. What is the stage of the product? Where do you see KOMPANIONS in 6 or 12 or 18 months from now?
In our first year itself, we have launched three products that are a “First” for the market. We will be coming out with three more in 2016.
Currently, we are focusing on kids and adults in the B2C and B2B space, but we definitely see ourselves reaching out to an even larger audience in the next six months. We also want to reach to a global audience in 2016. For an organization that started out with two members, to reach to a team size of about 40 in our first year of operation, is good progress. We aim to be a 60 member team, within 2016.
6. What is the biggest need for your company at this point of time?
For us at KOMPANIONS it is about attracting the right kind of talent. From the space we operate in, to some of the technologies that we use, it is a very niche space. Building a team that is right-minded is extremely critical to our future success and growth. Also, since most of our efforts are a “First” in their space, they require continuous R&D and we hope that our efforts will be noticed by the markets and we should get enough backing, when required.
7. What are your views about the growth of the Education Technology industry in India?
It is definitely a very exciting and challenging time. The Ed-Tech industry is at an inflection point and the next 5 years are tipped to be path-breaking. Markets and investors need to back and support potentially disruptive ideas but you got to have patience as the space takes its own time and you have to be in it for long. We believe that the next cutting edge disruption, across all industries will take place in the space of Education Technology in the next 3-4 years time, else be used the maximum in Education.
8. Tell us about your team, who do you have supporting you? How did this start?
TEAM KOMPANIONS comprises of eclectic, dynamic and self-motivated individuals who are dream chasers, idea churners, WOW generators and religious “What –Iff’ers”. Individuals, who are continuously willing to push themselves, beyond the edge, individuals who catalyze creative entropy, eventually leading to the creation of “NEW”. But the one word that describes this exceptional cohort is that they are all, "Learners" and learners for life. Our R&D teams, Creative Visualizers, Innovation Evangelists and Data & Pedagogical Scientists as well as Learning Scientist are all driven by our common goal of “Revisualizing Education”.
We are backed by an angel investor. KOMPANIONS has successfully begun its second year of operations.
It actually started with a question that was posed to the founders by one of their young nephew’s. This kid had a mathematics test in class and he was supposed to perform division for a 5 marks question. The question was to divide 15 by 3 and this kid wrote 4 in the quotient’s place and 3 in the remainder’s place. But actually got a zero for his attempt! His question, when he came back home was simple, that though he agreed that he didn’t quite do his tables thoroughly, but he had over-heard his elder sibling saying that Dividend = Divisor X Quotient + Remainder, so by that logic it was 15 = 3 X 4 + 3 (and what he did, satisfies the equation that he had heard), so may be the teacher could have deducted a few marks for not remembering tables properly. But since the process that he followed was right, he should have gotten atleast 2 – 3 marks for his attempt.
This question in itself was the “apple falling” moment, as it not only highlighted the gap areas and the opportunity that existed but also showed them that if there was an area that they wanted to work and contribute in, it is definitely “Education”.
9. What/Who motivates you? Any thought leader or companies with innovation which you follow for success?
The fact that our work positively impacts the society and helps children, adults as wells senior citizens to optimize their cognitive abilities; to be able to do our bit in building a more brain fit society, is something that really keeps us going.
Inspiration is everywhere, from the small things in life to reading about all the greats. We take the best from everyone and remain true to one of our guiding principles of being an eclectic learner.
10. What are the biggest challenges of your ed-tech startup?
It is about quickly creating the right kind of awareness amongst our target group, getting to our early adopters at the earliest and getting the right set of team in place to be able to do the kind of work that we are doing, is a challenge.
We are lucky to have the team we have till now.
11. Who would you call your competitors? And how are you different?
We haven’t really come across any direct competitors so far. Yes there are a few who are doing some standalone similar things but not to the tune of what we at KOMPANIONS have envisaged and are attempting, thus in a way, most of the things that we are doing are a first and automatically sets us apart from the others.