Founded in December 2019 by Himanshu Gautam and Ashok Pundit, Noida-based Safalta started out as an omnichannel institute that helped small-town students prepare for exams for government jobs.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the startup has evolved into an online channel for imparting education to not just these aspirants but people of different age groups looking to upskill or prepare for school board exams.
“The reason for starting Safalta was simple. A lot of small-town students have to move to bigger cities to be able to find help for preparation for the exams they are taking, and we wanted to help young India get this assistance where they are,” says CO-Founder Himanshu.
The platform is designed for small screens and offers online learning in vernacular languages with a focus on Hindi.
Safalta provides content through low-data browsing and provides free resources like free courses and study material such as previous year question papers, mock tests, e-books, tips, and videos through 100,000 hours of content.
The edtech startup has an “a la carte” type of revenue model where a user can pick and choose the subjects and courses he or she wants to study. Another way the startup is now looking to generate revenue is through a subscription plan where one gets access to a set of courses.
Safalta has raised funds from the Hindi daily newspaper publisher Amar Ujala group. They also leverage this partnership for networking and visibility.
“For most of the Indian families, the median income is less than Rs 10,000. This makes it difficult for them to afford sending their children to bigger cities and getting coaching classes to ace these exams,” explains Himanshu.
“We thought of solving this problem of accessibility. We wanted to bring in a star teacher and take him to a smaller town.”
In 2019, the startup started out with 160 centres around India which were quickly shut down as the pandemic came knocking.
Additionally, Safalta ran a YouTube channel that saw an increase in the number of viewers in early 2020 and eventually resulted in the creation of an application for the platform.
In January 2020, the application was downloaded by 15,000 users and over the past year, downloads have increased to 700,000. The edtech startup caters to Tier-2, 3 cities. With 90 percent of its users coming from Uttar Pradesh, Safalta provides classes for as low as Rs 99 with the most popular package for 5 subjects for Rs 299.
“We realised early on that there was a discipline problem with kids and they might be distracted by something or the other. Recorded content cannot work in these instances because it gets put on the back burner which is why we decided to work with live classes. There is some accountability in this manner,” explains Himanshu.
The website currently has 1 million monthly visitors with over a million students registered on the platform, according to the startup.
Safalta has onboarded a total of 40 teachers, 14 of whom are employed on a permanent basis while others work part time.
“We were able to onboard some brilliant teachers during the pandemic. Some of them were available at the beginning of the pandemic because they lost their jobs and were on a lookout for other opportunities,” says Himanshu.
“The credo at Safalta is ‘Saath Rahenge Success tak’ (We will be with you till success),” says Himanshu.
In order to do this, Safalta also provides additional services like helping its students create a LinkedIn profile “to get them digitally included”, sending out job alerts and guides on how to apply for various exams online.
“At Safalta, we understand that until these students are active on job portals, and have a strong LinkedIn profile, they will not be able to create visibility for themselves. We are working on these smaller things,” says Himanshu.
The startup wants to make students “life-ready and corporate ready”.
“There are a tremendous number of jobs available in the market but the sad reality is that the skills required to fulfil the job requirements are lacking. We are trying to bridge these gaps by looking into what are the requirements of small and medium businesses and create courses around these needs to ready our students,” the co-founder explains.
The startup also offers a course in the English language and preparation for job interviews. Recently, the company has also increased its offerings to include upskilling courses like digital marketing and graphic designing at Rs 499.
A common practice in small towns, says Himanshu, is that middle class and lower middle class families often focus only on government jobs for their children. The startup wants to increase awareness about jobs in the private sector and also, help students avail the opportunities available in this area.
To this effect, the startup has formed a dedicated placement team which reaches out to corporate companies. The edtech startup has partnered with TeamLease and Quess Corp to receive job opportunities for its users. Safalta is also in talks with HCL among other companies to extend partnerships.
“These companies are coming out with many undergraduate jobs for which they were hiring engineers previously. But now engineers are not happy with these supporting roles and are seeking other opportunities. So, the attrition rate is high in these companies,” explains Himanshu.
Going forward, the company hopes to build a content repository of 500 skill modules, 10,000 ebooks, 150,000 content pieces, and 4,000 hours of recorded structured learning content.
The startup is also hoping to achieve 10x growth in monthly users, and get 1 million active subscribers, 60,000 paid subscribers, and 5,000 jobs each month by the end of this year, says Himashu.