“Edtech in India is at the tipping point of explosion”- Kunal Malik, Co-Founder of PlanetSpark
At the present scenario, edtech has been providing courses and contents that are freely available. But, customers are also looking for value-added services such as tutoring, facilitation, social learning, doubt solving, learning recommendations, career counselling, etc. through technology-enabled by AI and ML.
With a similar vision, Gurugram-based edtech, PlanetSpark has started implementing AI and ML techniques to help children develop new-age skills. Founded in 2016 by Kunal Malik and Maneesh Dhooper, PlanetSpark is also a one-stop-shop to help parents develop key life skills aligned with their need-gaps, career aspiration and interest.
“With parents now onboarded to the idea of online learning and the changed global scenario due to COVID-19, edtech is at the so-called ‘Tipping Point’ and is ripe for an upward hockey stick graph and mass adoption”, says Kunal.
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The company closed a pre-Series A funding of INR 3.2 Crores led by Indian Angel Network, Lead Angels and Hyderabad Angels. Existing seed investor, FIITJEE, known as India’s largest test-preparation company, also participated in the round.
According to Maneesh, there are major segments in the edtech space – test prep, school tuitions, and career and life skills, where the test-prep has seen a lot of activity, and the school tuitions have been steadily moving online. “We see the career and life skills as the most exciting and fastest-growing segment with younger parents investing heavily in building new-age skills in children,” says Kunal.
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According to the founders, the flagship product of PlanetSpark is a live online product of a career stream in one of the following pillars, which are Language Learning, STEM and Creative Arts. Here, each career stream has a structured learning path for the child, with clear learning objectives, videos, presentations, and quizzes. As the children progress on the path, they collect badges, certificates, and experience points and keep them to their skill repository.
Use of AI and ML at PlanetSpark
According to the founders, AI makes PlanetSpark’s learning platform responsive to individual students’ needs by adapting intelligently to their requests. This results in increased engagement and retention on the platform.
PlanetSpark uses AI personalisation in creating a custom learning path for the learners. Kunal said, “The company uses AI algorithms that ensure bespoke experiences for the learners by analysing their learning behaviour, courses selection, and their preferred format for learning.”
He added, “This information is then used to understand what’s most relevant for a learner. Using this, we curate a learning path that is most appropriate for the learner. Hence, instead of a standard linear learn plan, we curate a path that is more relevant, which leads to better information retention.”
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Tackling Hiring Phase
PlanetSpark believes in hiring and grooming talent in-house. They usually look for talents who have the attitude and ability to learn new skills. For senior leadership positions, the company has hired experienced edtech business and technology leaders, and for the remaining leadership positions, the company grooms the talent internally by providing exciting growth paths to the top talent.
How Is PlanetSpark Differentiated From Other Companies In The Market?
Maneesh stated that PlanetSpark is differentiated from the other players in the market through three levers:
- Firstly, the segment of career and life skills in which PlanetSpark operates is focussed on building new-age skills in children. There is no organised player that is catering to this largely unmet need in a scalable manner.
- Secondly, the product has been designed to enable activity-based learning using PlanetSpark’s proprietary STEPS methodology. This ensures that children develop real skills in an engaging manner.
- Thirdly, live online classes in the presence of a teacher not only helps in doubt-solving and mentoring but also provides motivation and encouragement to learn. Hence, it is a much more powerful offering as compared to stand-alone videos.
To this question, Maneesh replied that the plan for the next 5 years is to spread the wings in every part of India and impact over 100 million learners. He said, “To achieve this, we will invest heavily in developing our tech and product to provide a superior learning experience and curated paths using AI and ML. The plan includes a micro skill recommendation engine, a learning prediction engine to give lead indicators before completion of a topic.”
Kunal added, “Also, we have planned to aggressively scale up our offerings internationally in the US, Canada and South East Aisa. We already have several learners from these regions. In the future, we plan to ramp up our teams looking to expand in these geographies.”