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Toppr.com is an ed-tech startup founded by Zishaan Hayath, dedicated for online test preparation for students appearing for engineering and medical entrance examinations. In the span of one year Toppr has enrolled more than 30,000 students on their platform. Toppr claims to be the only online test preparation platform where the technology acts as a facilitator to the content. The predictive technology works just like the way it works in ecommerce websites like Amazon.com. For example, the practice content is customized through programming algorithms that works out the areas of strength and weakness of the student. The company also recently raised $2 Mn funding from SAIF Partner and Helion Ventures.

Prior to starting Toppr, Zishaan Hayath co-founded a mobile commerce marketplace, Chaupaati Bazaar, in 2008. In 2010, Chaupaati Bazaar was acquired by India’s largest retailer, Future Group. Earlier Zishaan worked with Opera Solutions on strategy and operations, consulting projects for Fortune 100 clients in North America, Europe and Asia. He was the first employee in Opera Solutions’ India office. Zishaan is an angel investor in few of the well known Indian startups including Olacabs, Housing.com and also runs an angel investment group called Powai Lake Ventures, based out of Mumbai.

We caught up with Zishaan Hayath to know more about his venture, the need of online test preparation startups, the market size and the way forward.

Inc42: What are your thoughts on the online test prep market in India? There have been a lot of players in the market. What is the differentiation that Toppr brings to the table?

Zishaan Hayath: Online test preparation market is growing at a rapid pace. The USP of Toppr is the way the platform has leveraged technology to complement the tutor based offline coaching of a student with a truly intuitive online platform that makes a student optimize the time spent on self practice. Toppr intelligently uses algorithms to justify the results and provide assistance to students in understanding the areas of concern and where more practice is needed to improve the chances for them to excel in their entrance examination. The platform helps students understand the time spent on each question versus the optimal time to be spent on it and provides a goal based approach to perfect a particular section. Depending on the ability of the student, Toppr’s intelligent platform automatically customizes the questions based on the scope for improvement of the students.

Inc42: What do you think is the estimated market size of the online test prep market in India and globally?

Zishaan Hayath: The Test Prep market in India is valued at about $4-5 Bn (2012) and is projected to grow to $ 6-8 Bn by 2015 which includes both traditional coaching centres providing classroom teaching as well as the highly-efficient and comparatively newer online preparation websites. Although in terms of percentage, a very small number of students rely on online media of test prep, this number is increasing exponentially and even the established players in classroom coaching are now fighting for a market share in the Online Test Prep. Although, we have been quite clear in our approach of being a supplement to classroom coaching and partnering with them to help their students improve further.

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Inc42: Can you please share the numbers on the types of courses offered?

Zishaan Hayath: We have more than 30,000 registered students in past 6 months and are adding approximately 10,000 students every month. Toppr offers different types of courses where students from the XI and XII std can enroll into 1 or 2 years programs for IIT JEE or Pre-Medical. Further students looking at creating a foundation from VIII, IX and X std can enroll in a 1, 2 or 3 year program for Foundation course. We have recently launched IIT JEE Test Series which helps students know their standing across India and analytically give them meaningful insights on how they can improve.

toppr

Inc42: Has increased mobile penetration helped Toppr expand into Tier II cities?

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Zishaan Hayath: It is estimated that the mobile penetration is likely to reach 500 Mn by 2017. 40% of all our users are already accessing our product through mobile and this is likely to go up in the coming few months. We found that students from Tier II and Tier III cities are showing greater interest in Toppr, as they have limited options in terms of coaching centres and test practice options. Our product gives them a level playing field by ensuring that they get all the relevant help in their exam preparation.

Inc42: How do you ensure quality of study material available to students and track their improvement on Toppr?

Zishaan Hayath: A network of experienced teachers and students from IITs curate all the questions and verify the solutions on our platform. We have more than 100,000+ questions across physics, chemistry, maths, biology and mental aptitude across all levels of difficultly. To track progress, students get a report on how well they have fared in a test and where can they improve both in terms of time and accuracy. We see that on average, students are improving their accuracy by almost 25% and saving 30% time by accomplishing various goals on Toppr. This shows that our strategy of providing a goal driven adaptive platform is helping students improve their scores drastically.

Inc42: You have invested in Housing & Ola. How has the experience been since both the companies have proven to be the next big startups of India?

Zishaan Hayath: I was quite lucky to have spotted both the companies at an early stage. The founders of both Ola and Housing are my juniors from IIT Bombay and that surely helped. It’s great to see that they are doing quite well and are building disruptive products which have scaled very fast. As you might be aware they have raised multiple rounds after our initial investment and they seem to be on track to reach newer heights.

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