We’re sitting in the terrace cafe at Vedantu, looking over the high-rises in the Bangalore’s HSR Layout. Startups dot this neighbourhood, and bright young people seem to cluster in its many eateries and shopping places. “This is the new startup hub in Bangalore”, says Anand Prakash, while sipping on his coffee. “The rents in Koramangla are too expensive.”
And Vedantu’s found a nice little place for themselves. Spread over two floors that house 120 employees, Vedantu has a cozy office that’s done up in bright orange, the colour of its logo. Its employees type away busily on their keyboards, working towards changing how education is imparted in India.
Prakash co-founded Vedantu in October 2014 along with Vamsi Krishna, Pulkit Jain and Saurabh Saxena. Being IIT students, they’d been exposed to the grind that IIT-JEE preparation can be, and after graduating, they started mentoring and helping other school students prepare for IIT exams. This led to the birth of Lakshya, a competitive exam coaching centre that they sold off in 2012.
The founders then looked for a solution that was more scalable and accessible. “We wanted to democratize education in India. Why should students be forced to attend a particular teacher’s classes, and vice versa? We wanted to give both the teachers and the freedom to choose.” And thus was born Vedantu, an online portal that connects teachers and students over the internet. Students can book teachers for hour-long video sessions, and have a slew of teachers to choose from. The students and teachers connect over a video call over technology that’s adapted to suit low bandwidth conditions in India, and a nifty whiteboard that’s provided to the teachers to help them explain complex concepts.
“It wasn’t easy at first to convince parents to let their kids get lessons on the internet”, says Prakash. But students seem to have taken to the concept. The company claims that 70% of users who use the free trial end up becoming paying customers. “Students living in remote towns can now access the teachings of some of the best teachers in the country. Our teachers too have flexibility over schedules and the number of sessions they take. We have a teacher on board who travels the world while teaching on Vendantu. It’s the democratization of education.”
And the company’s democratization philosophy seems to translate into its work culture as well. Vedantu claims to have no leaves policy. Vedantu’s employees can take leaves when they want without approval of the management. “We don’t keep tabs on our employees. We hire only motivated people who know how to get their assigned work done. They’re free to take leaves as and when they want, provided they can deliver.”, says Prakash. The strategy seems to be working. Vedantu boasts that no employees have left the company since its inception, with the exception of one who had to move abroad. “Even she wanted to keep working for us remotely”, laughs Prakash.
The work environment at Vendatu seems intense but upbeat. Large screens in the office area beam down the company’s daily metrics, such as the number of signups and active users. “We share all relevant data with our employees, and this helps us stay transparent as a company”, says Prakash.
Employees can chill at a mini golf course that’s located right at the office entrance, relax tired muscles in the sleeping room, or engage in long meaningful conversations on the terrace cafe.
“The internet will change the way education is seen”, says Prakash. And Vedantu’s well on its way to being at the forefront of that change.