In Greek, ‘Eupheus’ means active seeking of knowledge, a “readiness of will, to learning.” True to its name, edtech startup Eupheus Learning aims to create students who seek knowledge actively, spurred by an excitement and interest in the relevant topic.
“What we are curating as thoughts and solutions in Eupheus Learning are products that enhance both discovery as well as engage learners through various methods and technology,” says Sarvesh Shrivastava, one of the founders of Eupheus Learning.
Why the focus on “discovery” and “engagement”, we ask him. He explains that when there is a discord or variance in the “what and how” of learning at school and at home, students often fail to engage with the topic. As a result, they are compelled to adopt rote-learning for the sake of passing those three-hour-long exams. This, in turn, has long-term implications on the learning imbibed by young people, who go on to join the workforce often ill-equipped to deal with real-life business or academic matters.
Realising this learning gap, Shrivastava, a former Encyclopaedia Britannica employee, along with three of his colleagues, brainstormed to bring a meaningful learning solution for students. The result: Eupheus Learning. The edtech startup believes that rote-learning takes place when students fail to “discover” and “engage” with the topic being taught.
“If these two ingredients are there then learning takes place — it’s our thought and philosophy. Our solution ensures learners don’t face any disparity in the level or pedagogy of the concept being taught either at class or at home,” says Sarvesh Shrivastava of Eupheus Learning.
The Delhi-based edtech startup provides curated learning solution for students from pre-kindergarten (pre-K) till Class X in the form of animations, videos, and games to make learning interesting and engaging in subjects such as computer science, grammar, math, general knowledge, social studies, science, arts and crafts. The startup is currently in discussions with over 200 schools and school groups to provide coding as a subject in existing IT curricula.
Within one year, the Eupheus team has grown from 44 to 75
Eupheus Learning: Integrating Textbook-Driven And Retail At-Home Solutions
Having spent between 10 and 30 years each working for the iconic Encyclopedia Britannica’s Southeast office in New Delhi, Sarvesh Shrivastava, Rohit Dhar, Ved Prakash Khatri, and Amit Kapoor felt they had to do something to address the gap in school and home learning. So, in December 2016, they decided to leave their full-time jobs and founded Eupheus Learning.
They brought together 40 others, mostly ex-Britannica employees, to work for their startup. All 44 of them then infused about $955K (INR 6.5 Cr) from their personal savings to start up the company. The bootstrapped edtech startup was officially launched in June 2017, ready to foray into the online education market and change the way students learn.
“The team came together, giving up their regular jobs, determined to roll out the idea, and put together whatever resources we had to start the company,” says Shrivastava.
Identifying the learning gap in the Indian education system is a no-brainer, really. Anyone who’s studied or taught in schools in the country or has even witnessed the system closely is likely to have noticed it. The point was, what could be done to overcome it?
The quartet realised the answer could be building a digital education ecosystem that would provide solutions to both teachers and students.
Eupheus Learning aims is to bridge the gap between what is taught in class using institutional textbook driven solutions and retail at-home learning providers by seamlessly integrating both. It offers pedagogically differentiated technology-driven solutions — Curriculum Solutions, Print References, Digital Solutions — that lead to critical thinking and achievement of higher learning outcomes. It caters to pre-K to Class X in the private school segment, which consists of 22,000 private schools across India with a base of approximately 26 Mn students.
“We don’t just provide Q&A, we make it interactive… we embellish it. It is not just a plain conversion of textbook into a digital form, it is much more than that,” Sarvesh explains. According to the founders, there is no single solution provider offering an end-to-end solution in the market today.
While Eupheus Learning is not focused on a specific technology, it plans to leverage technology like AI and virtual reality as per requirement in their learning solutions. “We have put together a solution which is addressing a need. We don’t rely on a particular technology, but we see which technology is best-suited for the pedagogy that we are trying to teach — whether AI will be best-suited to impart this learning or virtual reality is required to use, or playing just digital interactivity will do the job,” Sarvesh replied.
New Kid On The Edtech Block
It’s not easy being a startup in any field these days, let alone being a bootstrapped one in an area as undisrupted as education in India. The biggest challenge Eupheus has faced in its first year is being a new kid on the block. “We were going into the market for the first time. How do we grow it? How do we establish ourselves in the market? These were the biggest challenges we faced,” explains Shrivastava.
So how did Eupheus Learning address these challenges, we asked. “We overcame them by curating and offering of a clearly differentiated solution for a different market. We also formed 11 worldwide partnerships with companies in similar spaces,” says Shrivastava.
The Eupheus team has grown to 75. Within the first year of its launch, the startup maintains to have garnered a revenue of $3.2 Mn (INR 22 Cr), reaching about 1 Mn students through 1,500-1,700 schools, largely private.
Three months ago, Eupheus Learning raised an undisclosed amount in a Pre Series A Funding from Nikhil Vora, founder and CEO of Sixth Sense Ventures. “We will soon embark on a Series A round of funding,” says Shrivastava.
Online education in India is expected to see approximately 8x growth in the next five years, with a potential to touch $1.96 Bn by 2021 from $247 Mn at present. The edtech market is expected to have a significant impact on the sector. Naturally, edtech startups are making their presence felt in the $100 Bn Indian education sector, according to the IBEF.
Eupheus is competing with edtech startups such as Flintobox, which provides an activity-based learning; Bengaluru-based Magic Crate, which offers an inquiry and play-based programme; and augmented reality (AR)-focused Smartivity Labs, which has built learning-based DIY kits.
Eupheus Learning: Look Ma, I Can Code
To differentiate itself in this tough market, Eupehus has undertaken novel initiatives such as introducing a coding programme for school children as young as pre-K level! It has partnered with UK-based Cubetto and Canada-based RoboGarden to provide coding programmes for three to eight-year-old children. It provides board and instruction blocks and through gamified learning technique via adventures, journeys, and missions to motivate students’ learning process.
“Coding is one of our key focus areas because the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and the roles that it will play in the future is what everybody is talking nowadays. And AI requires coding, which is basically a logical steps which is required to be followed to accomplish a task,” says Shrivastava.
But how do you teach technology to a toddler? “We provide a wooden robot and it will do the task that the toddler programmes it to do. They learn the very basic steps of coding while playing with the robot. For instance, they can be given a task to move to a certain point — two times to the left and two times forward,” explains Shrivastava.
Eupheus Learning is also offering tinkering kits for Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs), an initiative of the government. NITI Aayog is establishing ATLs under the Atal Innovation Mission with an objective to foster curiosity, creativity, and imagination in young minds. “We feel this is a very beneficial initiative taken up by the government. It introduces learners to many more technologies. We are providing a complete kit which consists of 3D printer along with the courseware which goes along for the learner and the teacher,” Shrivastava says.
The startup also organises the Singapore and Asian Schools Math Olympiad (SASMO) in collaboration with the International Society for Olympiad (ISFO) for math, science, English and GK in India and the UAE. Shrivastava says the Olympiad has helped them understand how their offering is leading to a higher level of learning in schools.
The Indian education sector is in dire need of disruption. Schools haven’t been able to maintain or raise their standards. As a result, students, don’t have access to the right curricula, essential laboratory infrastructure, or even good teachers. The quality of education in India is still a challenge. It is believed that 94% of IT graduates are not fit for hiring due to huge skill gaps.
But if more edtech startups like Eupheus Learning come forward to walk this difficult path of disrupting education in India with technology and innovation, things are likely to change for the better.