Co-founder Vaibhav Singh tells Your Story about what makes LeapScholar a go-to platform for students and about their mission to expand the global footprint.
Could you first define LeapScholar for us and tell us more about how it was founded?
If I had to really define it, I’d say LeapScholar is a one-stop platform offering comprehensive products & services in overseas education.
It is an edutech startup that began with the aim of empowering students to study abroad and has today become the go-to platform for students pursuing international education and careers.
It is gratifying to note that today LeapScholar has pioneered the ‘platform way’ of end-to-end services and has a thriving community of 1 million + students. Headquartered in San Francisco, California with offices in Bengaluru and Mumbai, India, LeapScholar is one of the fastest growing startups today in overseas education.
Founded in 2019, LeapScholar has in fact taken the market by storm through its community-led approach and innovative offerings that suit the needs of every study abroad aspirant.
What drove the vision and mission for LeapScholar when it was founded?
When we first conceived of LeapScholar, the idea was to build a student-centric and customer-obsessed company that can enable ambitious students to access quality global education and careers. The Indian middle classes are more aspirational than ever before; there is an increasing wave of families wanting their children to gain global exposure. But we noticed a gap in the study abroad market at the preparatory stage – right from test prep to selecting the study abroad destination and university, visa, and jobs. Earlier, aspirants had to visit different service providers for each of these steps. Our objective was to create a single platform that would provide all these services under one roof.
So our mission is very simple, really – to empower students across the spectrum by making quality global education accessible for all. Drawing from the many years of experience working in multinational financial corporations and the start-up ecosystem, we have built a customer-focused online platform that offers end-to-end services for students pursuing international education and careers. The study abroad journey can be quite challenging and requires several months of hard work and dedication from aspirants. Our platform hand-holds them through all the stages and processes. Our financial arm LeapFinance provides collateral-free student loans at much lower rates than traditional alternatives.
What distinguishes LeapScholar as a go-to platform for Indian students aspiring to go abroad?
The USP of LeapScholar I would say is its very mission – to make global education accessible for Indian students across the spectrum. With its affordable counseling service and financing options along with zero compromise on quality, LeapScholar is seeking to revolutionize foreign education for Indians. The platform has live sessions with India’s best study-abroad experts and it also offers access to comprehensive IELTS coaching programmes and scholarships.
Being integrated with colleges, universities, their scholarships, courses and programs, all on a single platform, it helps students find the most suited option with ease and make decisions based on merit, counselling and community advice, and thus ensures complete access to all the right information.
Could you take us through some of the key offerings of LeapScholar?
One of the most critical offerings of Leap’s product suite is its IELTS Prep platform, which has helped almost a million students score in high bands. The LeapScholar IELTS Prep app has over a million downloads and is one of the most popular apps globally in the IELTS prep space and comes with many innovative features. Counselling service for college admissions is also among LeapScholar’s key offerings. Its 3,000+ counsellors across the country help students make the right, informed choices regarding their overseas education including shortlisting colleges, applications, preparing SOPs and LORs, visa applications etc. among other things.
The company’s financial arm, LeapFinance, provides collateral-free education loans to aspirants based on their merit. Up to 100% financing of education loans is available through LeapFinance, with the interest rates being much lower than the prevailing rates in India. Besides, it also offers students a U.S. bank account with a credit card. With its LevelUp program and its host of mentors, LeapFinance will also help students land suitable jobs in their destination country.
What have been some of the key milestones in LeapScholar’s journey?
When I look back, the journey has been incredible so far. LeapScholar is on the list of 100 most promising edtech startups by HolonIQ in India and South Asia 2021, besides being among the top 10 edtech startups from India to feature in GSV Edtech 150. The company has already raised over $75 MN in venture capital from marquee investors including Sequoia Capital India, Owl Ventures, Jungle Ventures and Harvard Management Company among others. And I’m happy to say that recently, LeapScholar was awarded the Edtech startup of the year 2022 by Entrepreneur India.
More importantly, the response from the community of Indian students aspiring to study abroad has been overwhelming. In 2021, LeapScholar enabled over 60,000 students to move abroad to their preferred destinations and universities. The financial arm of the company, LeapFinance facilitated loans worth more than $150 million.
So what next for LeapScholar? Any plans to take your offerings globally?
With a community-driven approach and innovation, we aim to democratise access to overseas education for 10 million global citizens over the next decade. In fact, we are at an exciting phase today. To take our platform to the world stage, LeapScholar recently expanded to the Middle East region to serve the study-abroad needs of students. LeapScholar’s offerings will now be available to students from countries such as the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. As we strengthen our offerings in the region, we plan to subsequently expand to South East Asia, South Asia, and North Africa. 2022 is going to see new highs in the study abroad space and we are excited about what’s ahead as we scale up globally.