Coaching centres are like shrines in this country. They are everywhere. A 2015 government-appointed committee conservatively estimated the coaching industry to be worth Rs.240 billion ($4 billion). Analysts, unofficially, estimate this figure to double by 2025. But only a small percentage — operating in the scale of TIME, FIITJEE or Allen — can offer students the convenience of online classes, with custom-made software. The rest are mom-and-pop establishments that clock attendance on ledgers and hand out photocopied tests.
Start-ups such as Classpro, Classplus and Proctur have sensed an opportunity in this. They are selling software as a solution (SaaS) to these ‘old-timer’ centres, charging anything between Rs.5,000 and Rs.50,000 per package, digitising every aspect of their running in user-friendly manner, for the not-so-tech savvy tutors. The three young companies together serve around 10,000+ centres and, with their solutions, the centres can charge their students 10-20% more on their fee, according to an industry veteran. It has meant changing entrenched practices but the growth in their user numbers shows that there is definitely demand, however slow growing that demand is. Manit Jain, chairman of FICCI Arise, a think-tank of stakeholders who represent different facets of school education, explains why the three players are in a lucrative business. “It’s a universal phenomenon, where in you have helicopter parents that want to enroll students somewhere or the other irrespective of the need, due to social pressure. This encourages a parallel industry that runs on pure obsession combined with a genuine need for some,” he says.
The first on the scene was Classpro, in 2011. Two year