"We have tried making an interactive platform for teachers who want to teach online. The features are aligned in a manner that a teacher gets all the required support and solution at one platform," says Mr. Shivranjan Kumar.

Learnyst to Scale Up and Expand to Major Indian and International Test Prep Markets

Learnyst, in four years since its beginning, has become a leading LMS and end-to-end course creation and marketing platform in India. Learnyst’s SaaS-based platform became well-liked and trending for allowing teachers to create online courses and float those on white-labelled mobile/web apps branded in their own name. Courseware World recently had a detailed conversation with Mr. Shivranjan Kumar, Co-founder & CFO, Learnyst Insight Pvt Ltd.

Excerpts:

To begin with, tell us how Learnyst came into being? Our readers would like to know what services Learnyst provides to teachers/educators who are into online teaching or looking for online teaching opportunities.

I have experienced first-hand the inaccessibility to quality education. And, that’s rather a common observation, especially in our country where education is yet to come within reach of all, let alone quality education. That’s where it all began. We, a bunch of tech enthusiasts who believed in equity and quality of education, started thinking how technology can be harnessed to make that happen.

Digitization of education was already catching pace in the country and e-learning was fast becoming a byword of new learning approaches. However, despite technology having tremendous potential, there was a vast gap between teaching community and new learning technologies in terms of their (technologies) accessibility and usage complications. Amid the flurry, we also started brainstorming and thought what if we made the technology easily accessible to and significantly simplified for teachers!

We knew if we could anyhow design and develop such a platform, which even a not-so-tech-savvy teacher can use to reach a wider audience of learners, the dream of quality education may finally come to a substantial fulfilment. We succeeded in developing a SaaS-based online platform that permits teachers to create their own white-labelled web and mobile apps.

In other words, we can build for teachers and small tutoring institutions highly secure apps in their own names allowing them to showcase their quality instructional skills to a large number of learners. These apps handle the security, traffic, hosting, analytics, student interactions along with payment processing, which together make these apps a complete solution for online teaching.


Do you also offer some sort of training to teachers who want to start teaching online using your platform?

Yeah, of course! That’s necessary part of any technology’s operation. We also take care of teachers’ professional development needs in order to go online and effectively use our platform. Additionally, there is continuous customer support wherever, whenever customers need. Learnyst offers helpful tips for teachers through support articles, chat, and call support.

We also have Learnyst University, offering courses for teachers. The platform is evolving and is soon going to be well-sructured with a number of focussed training programs for teachers for their online professional development.

We also want to help teachers create better quality videos by tying them up with 3rd party players who can help them shoot the videos.


Facilitating teachers to achieve their desired and variegated goals is very important. We have to enable them to do whatever they wish to do in terms of creating courses and engaging learners.”


Mr. Kumar, yours is basically a SaaS (Software as a service) platform. Can you highlight some of the key features of your platform?

We have tried making an interactive platform for teachers who want to teach online. The features are aligned in a manner that a teacher gets all the required support and solution at one platform. The platform is easy-to-use and within pocket. With our low entry barrier, a teacher can start an online academy for as low as INR 1999/month.

Along with course creation tools, Learnyst also provides ways and means to promote and market the course. Learnyst’s branded learning apps let students seamlessly access courses and mock tests through web or mobile devices. AWS cloud architecture allows teachers to easily handle traffic and response time along with dedicated payment gateways to capture 100 percent course payments.

There are other enabling features like adaptive streaming for playing courses and videos even at slow internet speeds; cloud hosting of apps for allowing the access anywhere, anytime; security measures like DRM encryption, screen-recording restriction, and watermarking for preventing plagiarism; test analytics tools for tracking and highlighting learners’ performance; and so on.

Besides, the offline availability of courses helps teacher reach students in internet-less, remote areas. As course content is encrypted, one can even sell courses in offline modes like SD card and USB drive. The marketing and sell optimization tools like push messages, SMS, emails help in selling courses through web and mobile devices.


How do you think online learning platforms, like yours, can ensure quality education to the learners?

I think I have already answered you amply on this question when I enumerated quite carefully all the features above. Those features of quality course creation, connectivity, security, learner’s performance tracking, and a facilitating payment gateway are the ones which are the real drivers of quality education, at least from the technology side.

However, I would add a little more. For me quality education is something which allows a learner to measure learning, get constructive feedback, and improve upon their existing skills and knowledge. Our white-labelled learning apps help students in doing exactly that.

Our platform allows teachers to host interactive course contents like SCORM/TINCAN, videos, audio and HTML articles. Platform also addresses the learning needs of any student group through quizzes or tests. For interaction and engagement, there are Discussion Boards to interact with peers and ask questions to teachers. Push messages can be used by educators to engage learners to an upcoming task.

Content dripping can enable educators do an interactive project in class and release the pre-requisite theory lessons on a predefined date. Besides, configurable personalised automated transactional emails guide the learners at different journey points like signup, course enrolments or discussion board notifications. Educators can also use course certificates as a motivator to enhance learner’s involvement in their courses.

So, now, I covered the question from the view point of what learners can achieve if a quality course uses our app.


Online K-12 and test preparation segment has been projected to see considerable growth in coming times. How does your company Learnyst strategize to tap these opportunities?

Currently, Learnyst is well positioned for growth in test prep market. In K-12 learning segment, we understand that there is an increasing demand for AI- and ML-based tools, especially in report analytics.

To cater to the K-12 market, we are in the process of developing exam replica templates for competitive exams like IIT JEE, NEET, CA/CS etc. We also intend to involve parents by giving them access to their children’s performance report for K-12.


What is Learnyst’s revenue model? Also, tell us how much teachers can earn by hosting their courses on your platform on a monthly basis?

Learnyst follows a subscription model where educators can pay us a monthly or yearly fee and use the platform. We have seen a positive trend with respect to earnings made by teachers on our platform. Here are some interesting facts about ROI generated by Learnyst customers. I will tell you by subscription plan wise.  Under our Lite Plan (@3000/month),the approximate average revenue generated by our subscribers currently stands at INR 318,000/year whereas we only charge INR 36,000/year.

So, you can actually see the huge returns a subscriber gets by using our platform. Our Professional Plan (@9000/month) has been the most popular and rewarding where we only charge up to  INR 108,000/year and the average revenue generated by users touches around INR 69,00,000/year.


Your company talks about creating even-playing field for teachers. How do you assist teachers in marketing their courses and creating an online learning brand for themselves?

Currently, our platform has removed a significant number of technology barriers for teachers. Further, we assist our teachers by publishing marketing courses through Learnyst University. Facilitating teachers to achieve their desired and variegated goals is very important. We have to enable them to do whatever they wish to do in terms of creating courses and engaging learners.

Apart from push messages, email marketing, and newsfeeds to engage learners, we also help teachers to upsell through bundles by grouping courses into a bundle, setting a price and upselling. Bundling courses provides the flexibility to offer different course combinations in a combo-based offer.

Besides, students can sign up for free and access trial coursesand lessons. Pay now button is shown to students when trial students try to access paid lessons. This increases chances of conversion. Coupons codes can be created to offer discounts on a course. One can create unlimited coupon codes for each course.

‘Activate course review’ feature encourages the enrolled learners to provide course review. This helps other lead learners make easier purchasing decisions.


Please tell us about your future plans of scalability and expansion in the e-learning domain?

4 years since our inception and we have expanded to become a leading LMS provider in India for test prep institutes predominantly in the sector of Bank, SSC, and CAT exams. More than 50 percent of the top 10 online CAT coaching institutes in India are our customers.

Over 300 customers trust us to serve their 1.3M students with our unique secure branded learning apps solution. This USP, along with our unmatched value propositions, technology foundation and strong customer centric business culture has put us on the forefront of growth.

Taking this success into account, we see the potential to scale up in other major and bigger sectors of Indian test preparation market like IIT, NEET, UPSC/PSC, CA/CS (USD 200M online market). We look to penetrate into these segments through 2019-20 and also expand our market to global test preps and corporate training segments post the year 2020.

We are currently working on optimising our marketing campaigns in India and also to reduce the sales cycle. By the end of 2019, we will increase our online conversions to 8 percent by marketing through multiple online channels. We expect to achieve further growth online, once we hit this rate. We will take up direct field sales in major test prep cities like Kota in India.

Keeping in mind our customers from international markets (Singapore, the Middle East, North America and South America), we will be implementing international market features like language support, international payment gateways, and customer support system in place. We will start to target international market by early 2020 and accelerate international marketing efforts by 2021.

With these marketing strategies and with a strong tech partner in Amazon we are confident of scaling our business to serve over 1000 test preparation institutes by end of 2020.