After getting a degree in electrical engineering from IIT Roorkee, Preeti Rani worked for more than a decade in the semiconductor sector. However, inspired by her own rich learning experiences of her childhood and the desire to offer a similar experience, she started offering weekend workshops for children along with her friend Komal Arora in 2012. Preeti says, “I realised that I learnt the most when I had a hands-on experience with concepts and ideas. But, when I looked around I saw that most schools had a ‘one size fits all’ approach towards learning.” A year later, the two launched MerryGoLearn in Bengaluru to offer personalised after-school programmes for kids to make learning more more personalised, contextual and experiential.
The duo started with science and mathematics for children between four and 12 and added English to the mix later. “We designed hands-on activities for each class, so that kids would wait for the next class with excitement. We went for B2B tie-ups along the way and organised events like summer camps in schools,” says Preeti, who heads the business development, sales and marketing segments of the venture.
In 2018, the MerryGoLearn team established an additional business line for events wherein they organised brand activation and corporate events. A year later, MerryGoLearn turned profitable with efficient cost control, geographical hiring and bulk procurement. They opened three more centres in Bengaluru in 2020. The company’s annual revenue touched Rs 22 lakh in April 2020. The venture also launched additional products such as LIPI Phonics Readers, and 60 decodable books featuring interactive activities, songs and fun worksheets.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the MerryGoLearn team switched to online classes. Unlike earlier where a bulk of their clients were B2B entities MerryGoLearn pivoted their business model to cater to B2C clients. While earlier, their target audience were students between kindergarten and class 10, MerryGoLearn is now concentrating on kids from kindergarten to class 5.
Preeti says MerryGoLearn’s future plans include launching an English literacy programme for children and an app for teachers and caregivers. Over the next three years, it aims to reach out to 100,000 students between 5-8 years with its online classes and ensure that LIPI Phonics Readers is recognised as curricular content for early learners in schools.
The road ahead
However, she also feels that insufficient systems, automation and use of technology for data-driven marketing are some of the challenges in the business and it is in these areas that she feels that her participating in Xcelerator Bangalore would be helpful. “We believe we have the right foundation in the team, a well-iterated minimum viable product and a defined future path. We are potentially at the cusp of a hockey stick growth curve. With the Xcelerator programme, we are looking to iterate our product and service to increase the market-fit linkage. We would also like to build on marketing strategies to achieve our user acquisition targets,” says Preeti.
Xcelerator Bangalore aims at accelerating the growth of women-owned, non-IT businesses in Bengaluru. It provides support to the women entrepreneurs to learn, collaborate and network with various stakeholders through a multitude of workshops, learning and mentoring sessions. This series highlights the work of 24 women entrepreneurs who will be participating in the first cohort of the Xcelerator Bangalore programme.