Singapore- and Chennai-based edtech startup Littlemore Innovation Labs has raised $3 Mn (INR 20 Cr) funding from Centrum Group’s PE fund Kalpavriksh. As per reports, the company is planning to use the newly-secured capital to fund research and development activities.
A portion of the financing will also go into filing patents and copyrights in Singapore, sources revealed.
With the primary goal of expanding its presence across Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Littlemore is gearing up to partner with private universities in India and overseas.
Commenting on the development, Littlemore Innovation Labs co-founder Srikanth Ganesan said, “Having recognised the unique challenges Indian universities face with written examinations, I scoured the world for a suitable device or a solution and realised there wasn’t any.”
“We have engaged with the Kalpavriksh team for a while now, and what gives us great comfort is that we are aligned on how we want the company to grow, so we have a lot to benefit from this partnership,” Ganesan added.
How Littlemore Is Making The Indian Education System More Efficient
Registered in Singapore, Littlemore Innovation Labs is an edtech startup that was founded in 2010 by Srikanth Ganesan, Tathagata Guha Roy and Anand Padmanabhan. The company was created with the vision to transform the examination process by enabling end-to-end paperless examinations.
To that end, it has developed digital and scalable solutions for conducting descriptive exams online.
Furthermore, the team at Littlemore has built a writable tablet called DigiTaal and a cloud-based software known as PEXA. Both of these solutions, according to the founders, are designed to bring efficiencies to the education system in both developed and developing countries.
DigiTaal utilises a stylus to provide a paper-and-pen-like experience for written examinations, while PEXA is a cloud-based, secure examinations ecosystem that covers the entire examination process right from setting the question-paper, authenticating candidate information, through the actual writing of the examination, the assessment process up to the publishing of examination results.
“PEXA + DigiTaal is an innovative solution for universities which would transcend geography, go beyond examinations to become a broader education tool, while remaining language-agnostic. The core technology competencies built by Littlemore, and the patents that have been applied for, mean that additional applications may be possible in other sectors besides education over a period of time,” commented Anand Sudarshan, Chairman of Littlemore’s Board.
The edtech startup currently has a full-fledged development centre at the IIT Madras Research Park in Chennai.
An Overview Of Kalpavriksh And Centrum Group
Headquartered in Mumbai, Centrum Group is a diversified financial services organisation founded in 1997 by Chandir Gidwani and the late. Khushrooh Byramjee.
Boasting over 125 branches across 48 cities in the country, the firm currently provides financial services – including investment banking (equity and debt), wealth management, institutional broking and foreign exchange services – to corporate and retail clients.
Kalpavriksh is Centrum’s maiden private equity fund. Launched in November 2016, the fund aims to raise a total corpus of more than $78 Mn (INR 500 Cr). At present, it primarily invests in high-growth unlisted companies across diverse sectors such as education, technology, healthcare and wellness.
As stated by Kalpavriksh CEO Giri Krishnaswamy, the fund currently has a corpus of $46.7 Mn (INR 300 Cr), with another green-shoe option of $31.1 Mn (INR 200 Cr).
Elaborating further, Krishnaswamy said, “We are still in the process of raising money. We will eventually do 10-12 investments from the fund. Our average ticket size is around $3.1 Mn-$3.9 Mn (INR 20 Cr-INR 25 Cr). We are looking for at least five deals in the consumer segment.”
Prior to pouring $3 Mn in Littlemore, which incidentally was the fund’s third investment, Kalpavriksh pumped $3.1 Mn funding in The Label Life, an online lifestyle brand of contemporary fashion, accessories and home decor, in December 2017.
Earlier, it had also invested $935K (INR 6 Cr) in sports medicine and physiotherapy chain HEAL Institute.
Speaking on the latest investment in Littlemore Innovation Labs, Krishnaswamy added, “We liked Littlemore’s strong R&D focus that has effectively combined the power of a custom-built hardware and a cloud-based software to provide a comprehensive, economical and yet an eco-friendly solution.”
Indian Edtech Startups Staring At A New Horizon
Online education in India will see approximately 8x growth in the next five years, says a recent report by Google, KPMG. This will have a significant impact on the edtech market that has a potential to touch $1.96 Bn by 2021 from where it stands now i.e. $247 Mn.
In 2017, the country’s education market underwent substantial growth, with a lot of startups expanding into tier II and tier III cities in order to create a social impact. Instead of focussing on the academic curriculum, a number of startups are now working to provide personality development and career counselling services.
In the edtech space, Littlemore Innovation Labs competes with players like BYJU’S, Unacademy, UCLID, Avagmah, Embibe, IMAX Program, iProf, Simplilearn, Meritnation, Toppr, NeoStencil and Englishleap, among others.
As per Inc42 Datalabs, the sector saw a total infusion of $206 Mn across more than 48 deals in 2017.
Among the edtech startups that raised fundings over the last few months are Univariety ($1.9 Mn), Springboard ($9.5 Mn), Meritnation ($5.8 Mn), Toppr ($6.92 Mn), Rubix108 Technologies ($1 Mn), IMAX Program ($13.5 Mn) and many others. As part of one of the biggest edtech acquisitions last year, Bengaluru-based edtech firm AEON Learning took over Acadgild in an all-stock deal worth $10 Mn.
With edtech startups in India witnessing increased funding from a plethora of investors, Littlemore is trying to spread its geographical reach across Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Whether the newly-secured funding from Kalpavriksh will come in handy for the company’s ambitious expansion plans remains to be seen.