, a global edtech company based in Singapore, believes that offline education is the best option for tutors and students. As a result, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, business came to a screeching halt as the company had no online offerings.
“We had to switch to the online model because our revenue had dropped by a fifth,” says Rajesh Panda, Founder and CEO of Corporate Gurukul, in a conversation with Your storyadding that business has managed to bounce back to pre-COVID-19 levels.
He adds that the team doesn’t believe in bringing together as many students as possible and follows a motto: if you’re the best, we’ll help you get better.
At present, Corporate Gurukul provides short refresher course and only targets students from the best educational institutions – IIT, BIT or NIT – through partnerships with elite universities in Singapore. The aim is to ensure that students are better prepared for a career in business or simply to improve their skills to be better equipped for higher education.
Rajesh says, “We want our students to prepare for the corporate world through a form of experiential learning that is relevant to society as a whole.
Launching online meant bringing all of its faculty and students together on a single platform, which could work cross-country and cross-culturally, to accommodate multiple countries as the company sought to leverage this to expand its presence.
Rajesh says it was important for his partners and the students to adapt to this new model, adding that none of the lectures are recorded.
And it paid off.
“Before the pandemic, Corporate Gurukul had a presence in eight countries, but we have since expanded to 20 countries, including launching on the African continent.”
Since December 2021, the edtech company has seen its students return to offline learning, and Rajesh says revenue has tripled in the past three months.
He strongly believes that Corporate Gurukul will not completely go online as students and universities still prefer the offline model and will look for a middle way – a hybrid model.
“Experience is a big part of education which is a four stage process of knowledge, execution, practice and reflection,” remarks Rajesh.
Rotate the business model
However, in 2007 when Corporate Gurukul was launched, it did not initially focus on top-tier colleges. In fact, he first reached the bottom of the pyramid by improving the skills of students in schools and colleges in Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal to increase their employability quotient through a partnership with the company Infosys computer.
By 2014, the company had trained around 1.25 lakh students in the model, the founder claims.
“It was about training these students in life skills and soft skills,” says Rajesh.
Around 2013-2014, Corporate Gurukul decided to change its focus, targeting students from top engineering and management institutes. This also included schools, as Corporate Gurukul wanted to sue students in class 11 and 12.
Rajesh says, “By charging students less than Rs 1,000, we have moved to a model where it costs Rs 2 lakh per student.”
To achieve this goal, Corporate Gurukul has formed partnerships with National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University. Additionally, it has formed industry partnerships with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Amazon.
As a result, Corporate Gurukul successfully expanded its reach from the Indian market alone and became a more globalized business. It offers three types of courses – internships, research and certifications – in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, Internet of things, design thinking, sustainable engineering, entrepreneurship, etc.
Corporate Gurukul’s product team, in close collaboration with partner universities, creates various short-term programs, lasting between seven days and six months. Rajesh claims that around 90% of the program is entirely new and adapted to industry requirements. At the end of a course, each student receives a joint certificate from the university and the company.
He adds, “We have partnerships with over 70 universities in India and over 150 schools in 20 countries in Asia.
Despite the pivot, the goal of Corporate Gurukul remains the same: to develop students to help them obtain better opportunities, both in higher education and in the job market.
According to Research and Markets, Global Edtech Market was valued at $254.80 Billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $605.40 Billion by 2027 growing at a CAGR of 15.52 percent. In terms of competition, other players in this upskilling segment are Emeritus, Hero Vired, Udemy, etc.
The Gurukul business is now looking to expand the market, which means venturing into the United States and other countries in Africa. It is also consolidating partnerships with Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, in addition to considering similar ties with Cambridge and Oxford.
Today, it has around 2,000 students graduating from its various courses each year and aims to increase that number to 5,000. However, it has tightened its own selection process and Rajesh says only one student out of 35 applicants is selected. .
“It is very easy for us to expand the cap to increase the number of students, but we will only work with the best universities,” says Rajesh.
Corporate Gurukul generates approximately 40% of its revenue comes from the Indian market while the rest of the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
For Rajesh, it has been an emotional journey to build this business over the past 15 years without any external funding – leveraging student fees and revenue sharing from his partner universities.
“The Gurukul company will continue this model with a focus on cash flow and profit,” he concludes.