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Achieving Excellence in K-12 Education by Involving All the Entities in the Ecosystem

29-Jun-2020   Ms. Swagata Roy, Designation: Director, Extramarks   Author: Akshit Goel

The Professional Test Prep space is remarkably different from the Graduate Exam Prep space, in the sense that the buyer and the user in the former is the same, while they are different entities, in the latter space. In such a situation, it becomes essential to enhance the satisfaction of multiple entities at the same time. ‘Extramarks’ has been able to achieve the proposition through its multi-pronged approach of targeting schools and school-going children both in their model.

In an interview with Ms. Swagata Roy, Director at Extramarks, we explore the positioning of Extramarks in the K-12 Test Prep space and how the company attempts to integrate all the entities in the ecosystem together, through different offering levels. We also look upon how a consolidated system of feedback, recommendations and deployment of AI solutions has helped the brand to develop a robust product and carve out a niche for itself in the market.

Q. How has Extramarks achieved scalability operating in the industry?

Extramarks Education, founded in 2007 by Atul Kulshrestha, is today the country’s second largest ed-tech firm by revenue. Extramarks has achieved scalability riding on the popularity and goodwill earned over the last 10 years. Almost all premium schools across the country use Extramarks’ digital content for delivery of concepts. As children are acquainted with us from an early age, they along with their parents know that they can repose faith on the quality of our solutions. The scalability or in other words, our capability to adapt easily to increased market demand was never more evident than in the recent times. In the 1st week of March when schools started closing down and sending kids home, the sudden shift gave us an early glimpse into how our digital solutions would soon be in high demand across the country. The upheaval strained us but we were able to successfully ensure continuity in learning for all those students and institutions who reached out to us and without the need for having to prioritize either our existing customers or new entrants.

In the test prep market, a very important aspect which has allowed scalability is the availability of our robust testing platform. Ultimately the adaptiveness and robustness of any platform comes from rigorous usage and we have been diligently mining data generated on our AI based assessment platform for a decade now.

Q. How does Extramarks’ business model function, with respect to its different product offerings?

Extramarks operates primarily across two business segments and multiple product offerings. For B2B, we typically enter into multi-year contracts for providing services. Revenue model is a monthly licensing fee which includes digital content for classroom delivery of concepts, learning app, assessment centre and the test preparation app.

For B2C segment, we have solutions covering entire spectrum right from Toddler to K-12, all major boards in India with full curriculum, not restricted only to Science, Maths or hard spots and test prep for engineering, medical and CA foundation. B2C operates on a freemium model for the first few days, post which it is fully paid for the service availed for the period of use – be it the adaptive testing platform or test prep app coupled with live classes or the AI enabled learning app helping to create personalised learning journeys.

Q. What are the bottlenecks that online test-prep players in the industry face?

Lack of successful and adequate integration of technology into the learning solutions is a prime challenge for traditional players in the industry with JEE having shifted online. Our robust adaptive assessment platform is the biggest advantage we have.

Q. One of the major attraction points for a Test Prep platform is a Customer-Centric and Customer-focused approach. How does Extramarks map Customer Satisfaction for its learners?

We are engaged in continuous interaction with students and parents throughout the learning journey. That is why; we have a very robust digital product which includes a lot of feedback sessions, enhancement and validation on an ongoing basis in association with schools, renowned academicians and expert faculties from traditional test prep institutes. Also, data analytics helps in mapping satisfaction levels and identifying where we need to improve and how to further personalize the learning journey for all to culminate high levels of customer satisfaction.

Q. How has the demand for Test Prep been impacted due to the COVID situation? What are the strategies that Extramarks is leveraging to make the most out of the increasing familiarity of people with online learning?

We are seeing an overwhelming demand for online learning and rigorous testing and this has been beneficial for us, as we already have a strong technological interface in place. Extramarks is already a known brand and the faith reposed on our solutions by both parents and students is evident from the fact that we had more than six lakh downloads post Covid, without any marketing efforts.

Q. What are the marketing strategies that players leverage for student acquisition and expanding user base? Is Extramarks focusing more on offline marketing or online marketing?

Extramarks is capturing market through organic database. It is ultimately the quality of service and effectiveness of our offerings that will lead to student acquisitions for the long term. As of now, we do not feel any need to advertise. If at all any need is felt, appropriate decisions will be taken at that point in time.

Q. What is the future growth scenario that the industry would witness? What would be emerging trends or new technologies that would impact competition and business growth in the future?

Brick and mortar coaching centres have mostly not adopted technology and seem to be increasingly anachronistic – a digital strategy will become a key differentiator going ahead.  Organisations who have the ability to scale up will see immense growth, with the base ingredients for success being quality of the digital offerings supplemented with the best of faculties. What will work will be personalized digital offerings which enhances value from a cost-based and a need-based perspective.

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