Please note that the interview has not been edited.
1. What would be an elevator pitch for someone who does not know about
Creatist is a real-time, active learning enterprise tool that enables instructors address the mundane pain points in teaching by managing the entire learning cycle that includes
- content management, security and delivery
- enhancing interaction
- tracking students’ activities
How it works
- An instructor uploads content, which can be readings, videos or activities before class
- Students can use any platform on any device to access content.
- As the students play with the content the instructor gets reports on how the content is being used.
- In the classroom, students can bring in their laptops, tablets, smart phones and the instructor can effectively use tools like text responses, polls, quizzes, and screen shares to make it engaging.
2. What is your company's core value proposition? What problem are you solving and for whom?
Creatist is the only solution to handle certain crucial problems that make using technology in teaching easier.
Instructors, especially in institutes refrained from using technology due to the amount of distraction that devices brought into the class. In addition to that poor internet connectivity is a huge issue, especially in India.
Due to these reasons a number of organizations have focused on building solutions that work in a ‘closed’ local environment. Their solutions can control learner devices remotely in a local setting and that also takes care of an unreliable internet connection. Also, the instructors could control access to content to prevent unauthorized copy.
But installing such systems has been an expensive affair. Moreover, there were dependencies on specific pre-configured learner devices. Organizations had to buy as many devices as there were students. That was again very expensive.
This problem could be solved with a back-end that could interact with any device over the web while not compromising on the crucial aspects of distraction and poor connectivity.
Creatist has 13 pending patent claims that solve the issues of poor connectivity, distraction, content management and dependency on devices at the same time making it the most practical tool for instructors to use in their teaching process. (See the Image above)
3. How do you plan to check on the user satisfaction?
Team Creatist is and will always be in the field of providing a technology solution, not a stand-alone product. We know that instructors using Creatist is only the first step towards a successful implementation. We ensure user satisfaction through the following steps:
Continuous Support: Customer education videos and hands on support helping instructors use the system more effectively
Impact Estimation: We measure the impact of Creatist implementation by tracking parameters like time spent in routine processes of maintaining content, student participation levels, student performances and feedback from stakeholders.
4. Why are you passionate about this company? What is your vision?
Having been instructors ourselves we were always on the lookout for effective tools to make our work easier. We tried a number of great tools, but most of them fail not because they are not good, but because of the practical constraints during implementation. That motivated us to create a system that takes care of the practical implementation issues and Creatist was born. As instructors we realize how important and effective a tool Creatist can be for other fellow instructors and believe that its adoption will be a great value add. That is what makes us passionate about our solution and the company.
We long to see Creatist as one of the most effective tools for instructors. Creatist should be able to enable any instructor anywhere to convert a classroom to a ‘smart’ classroom with no additional investment in hardware.
5. What is the stage of the product? Where do you see Creatist in 6 or 12 or 18 months from now?
The beta version of Creatist is already out and we have 7 enterprise clients using the system. We aim to add 50 enterprise clients in the next 12 months. On the development front we plan to develop Learning Tools
Interoperability compliances, plugins for well-knows learning systems like Moodle and Edmodo, implement more active learning frameworks and focus on enhancing user experiences. We envision the addition of 12 more full time resources in technology and sales to reach our target.
6. What is the biggest need for your startup?
We feel that proper market access through strong channels is the biggest need for our startup now. We already have a great product that is making waves and has renowned clients like the Indian School of Business, the National Police Academy using it. The challenge is to reach more clients faster. With a limited team size we don’t have that marketing might. Hence we are constantly on the lookout for channel partners to promote and sell Creatist.
7. What are the improvements a pedagogical model like flipped classroom can bring to Indian education?
We believe that the flipped classroom has a huge role to play in the Indian education scenario, which has been dominant with the one-size-fits-all approach to education. The model has a proven success in enhancing student understanding and retention by allowing instructors to focus on students individually. With active learning frameworks, the classroom is made engaging, interactive and fun. In the same way that it has done in the US, we believe that the flipped classroom model can drastically bring down the drop out rates here in India.
8. Tell us about your team, who do you have supporting you? How did this start?
There are three people at the helm of affairs.
Subhash Chanda heads the product planning, execution and operations. With more than 10 years of experience in organizations like the Defence R&D Organization, Aricent Technologies, Texas Instruments, Alcatel-Lucent, he brings in the professionalism to develop a structured product-driven team.
Joydeep Roy Choudhury heads technology. With more than 20 years of experience in technology companies like PacketVideo, Gemplus, VideoActive Corp and with 3 international Patents already under his belt Joydeep brings in the innovation in technology to address business needs.
Shouvik Dhar heads the business development and channel sales. With an experience of 5 years in the Defence R&D Organization, a business degree from the Indian School of Business and having been an entrepreneur ever since, Shouvik brings in the expertise to rope in crucial channel partners and expanding the team to help the organization grow. We have a team of 5 young developers who have supported the heads brilliantly in executing such a great product.
Shouvik and Subhash started Career Aces, a training organization that trained more that 5000 graduate students in 8 cities in Andhra Pradesh. Their experiences revealed the need for a platform that unifies the entire learning process, right from content delivery to enhancing classroom experience to ensuring student understanding through analytics. With Joydeep joining the team, they set out to develop such a tool and in the process solved a number of glaring pain points that teachers had. Months of development and close interaction with instructors from 30 different domains culminated in the birth of Creatist.
9. What/Who motivates you? Any thought leader or companies with innovation, which you follow for success? Whether in the EdTech space or in general?
As a team, we derive inspiration from a number of sources or people. Salman Khan from Khan Academy and Pranav Mistry are people we have always followed. The concept of Creatist came from the massive adoption of the flipped classroom that the Khan Academy sparked. Watching Salman connect with students like the way he does got us started to think of a solution like Creatist when we were instructors ourselves. We follow Pranav for his unflinching focus on using technology as a tool to enhance user experiences. Technology should never complicate processes. That made us focus on solving the issues that might deter people to use Creatist in the first place.
10. What are the biggest challenges of your edtech startup?
There are so many players in the edtech scenario that our clients get confused on what to choose and why.
Invariably it becomes very important for us to project how Creatist is different from other systems and that was what we started doing from day one. But inertia among clients is a huge hindrance. That is one of the biggest challenges to overcome. But to overcome that we need to publicize more, get effective channels, grow a decent sales force and a technology team to meet client demands and funds to do all that. All these challenges are all related and any general startup would face these.
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