Edushala: Crafting educational experience for all 

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Edushala: Crafting educational experience for all 

 

 

We spend most of our lives educating ourselves. How often have we questioned the kind of experience we get with educating ourselves? Is it empowering us or amplifying our love for learning? Or is it making us wiser rather than merely making us educated? In this age, when the market reality has shifted from products and services to customer satisfaction, the need for educational experience is revolutionising educational system all over the world. Great minds have spoken; from educationalists like Sir Ken Robinson to marketing wizards like Seth Godin, they all have shown us how education is no more about rote memorisation and batch production but instead the fulfilment of human’s potential. Here in Nepal, Edushala is representing this forward thought on education. 

Edushala is a young startup based in Kathmandu designing educational experience for all. They strive to bridge the gap between resource person, experienced ones and passionate learners, and install a life-long love for learning among people. They believe education institutes in Nepal should collaborate to collectively improve the quality of education and learning experience for students and they aspire to make this a reality by catalysing this collaboration. Ruchin Singh, the co-founder and managing director of Edushala, walked through their journey of crafting educational experience for all in Nepal.

 

Convergence

The team of Edushala converged from different realities of lives. Five years ago, Ruchin Singh and Jyoti Adhikari, who were both from IT background, were working together to open an IT training company. Meanwhile, Ruchin’s brother-in-law Santosh Shrestha, CEO of Edushala, and sister Rumi Singh (who are currently in the USA) were eyeing for profitable investment opportunities in Nepal and Edushala was their creative option. Also, Santosh’s friends Niranjan Kunwar and Jorge Esteban were travelling to Nepal and got in touch with Ruchin and Jyoti. They discussed about the concept of the IT company and Niranjan, an educationalist, noted that it isn’t only the IT sector but the entire educational system of Nepal which needed an overhaul. As the idea shifted from IT to the educational sector in general, Niranjan and Jorge Esteban joined the team. The team was also joined by another investor from Ruchin’s family, Rajat Rajbhandari. On September 5th, 2013, they set out on a journey officially to recreate the educational experience of Nepalis. 

 

Evolving business model 

Though the purpose of Edushala has always remained the same, their business model has evolved. “The whole idea of Edushala when we started was to create a market place where we connect passionate instructors with knowledge hungry students . We wanted to builtd onlinethat platform to make instructor-student community,” says Ruchin. They are still pursuing it. They have managed to build an instructor network and conducted more than 100 courses. Edushala has been helping these passionate instructors design immersive and experiential courses and market them. They believe in mantra - “learn by doing” and have adopted project based learning in most of their courses and workshops. 

However, they identified gradually that people in Nepal experienced a void in between their academic expertise and career demand. To fill the void, they fine-tuned the business model to package different courses for individuals and organisations by designing them and selling them. 

With the pool of instructor in their network, Edushala started with designing teachers’ training program on classroom reading at Triyog High School and Shuvatara School. They designed various learning programs for big organizations including ICIMOD, NCell (P) Ltd. and the World Bank. Edushala partnered with various colleges in the valley and designed career and enhancement courses. Thames International College was one of their first client to support and buy their learning program and now have worked with more than 20 schools and colleges. 

Edushala advocates lifelong love for learning and learning should be fun. Therefore, they always try to incorporate the elements that make learning fun and worthwhile which they call have rightly named Edushala experience.

Initially, they didn’t think working on projects and being funded by external agencies was a sustainable option for Edushala. But later, they grew into it due to the unique experience and responsibility it brought to the table. They also worked with the US Embassy to design a program for 140 students to provide them career guidance. Having done such programs, they realised programs as such added to their credentials and expertise. 

 

Reality Shock 

Edushala wasn’t spared from going through the excruciating and challenging times all startups and entrepreneurial team face on their way to creating greatness. They received their first reality shock when the members of team diverged for different pursuits, though on a mutual understanding. Niranjan opted to stay in the organization as an educational adviser as he had other commitments apart from Edushala. Jorge couldn’t continue working in Nepal as a foreigner facing visa issues.  Meanwhile, Jyoti also went abroad to pursue his higher studies. By the end of 2014, the team had already shrunk to four individuals. 

The second reality shock struck during the earthquake. They had collaborated with US Embassy for a project during the end of 2014. But they had to postpone it because of the natural disaster. Meanwhile, since Ruchin was the only person in Nepal from the team, responsibility of the organisation and its operations shifted to him. While he was looking forward to handle marketing, he was stifled by the shift which challenged him to think if he was even ready for it. 

Ruchin’s way forward wasn’t pre-defined and was filled with unknown circumstances. Since the co-founders were leaving, it worked against the confidence of the employees towards the organisation.  As they had already worked long enough and were seeking better opportunities, some key employees were leaving Edushala. Moreover, due to the earthquake, schools closed down and their infrastructure was damaged. Edushala had no other option than to cancel their projects. As a considerable sum had went into building the office space and the projects got cancelled, the only thing growing at its pace for Edushala were its challenges.  

 Giving up hope wasn’t an option though. The team made an effort by gathering all its resources to finish the US Embassy project since it was the only profitable scheme ahead of them that could save them. But, the challenges kept coming one after another. Just two days before the event date, the economic blockade hit the country and the program got postponed once again. In the aftermath, prices of the venue rose and the team members found new jobs. “I had to be understanding. I had to start with the new team. When the key employees left, they was a big void which needed to be filled. We were confused if we must continue or close with Edushala. But we continued.” They hired new team members and started 2016 from the scratch towards the completion of the US Embassy project. Ruchin says, “We wouldn’t have moved forward without the new talented bunch. They have inspired and motivated me to move forward.”

“There will be roadblocks. Even I had doubts. People used to message us in Facebook asking if Edushala is still going on,” says Ruchin. 

 

Aftermath 

It wasn’t just the team of Edushala who still had faith in their purpose.  “People around me were supportive. And back then, I was also involved in an accelerator program called Enterprise. At the end of 2015, I was in the low point when I joined. But investors believed in the idea of Edushala and people loved the idea of Edushala. They believed in the vision.” This added to the confidence towards what they were striving for.

They started to build programs and diversify Edushala. They have an online platform (http://www.edushala.com) where one can design courses. It is also an online repository of courses available and resources of individual courses. They are developing training programs for corporate organisation and packaging their courses as per the need of academic institutions and exploring creative options to fulfil the void in between academics and career. Moreover, they are also developing educational IT product to support the online platform. They will be rolling out a new feature - ‘Computer Based Test’ for organisations to measure the effectiveness of training programs and its reinforcement, and to assist human resource via personnel management. 

 

Revenue Inlets 

Their diversified services are the source for multiple revenue inlets. The courses are the primary sources of revenue. They sell their courses to individuals as well as organisations such as schools and colleges. Moreover, they also collaborate with organisations to design education related programs. They also sell merchandises. Currently, they have been maintaining a breakeven for several months and expect to remain profitable in coming months.  

Their early investment includes about $20,000 seed money from co-founders. . Beyond that, the company is operating with organic investment and will be obtaining some external investors in days to come. 

The way forward for Edushala is certainly more profitable not just to the organisation but to Nepalis in general. Soon enough, only qualification requirement and its sufficiency as a measure of education will be an obsolete or rather a regressive thought and what will really matter is the experience of it. “We encourage life-long love for learning and learning by doing motto,” says Ruchin. As such, Edushala is crafting that experience for all.

 

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