Karthik KS, founder & CEO, Avagmah
As Internet has become the prime channel for delivering all types of services, today marketers are increasingly using the Internet ubiquity to deliver even education services to consumers.
Bangalore-based Avagmah is one such company that is leveraging Web technology to deliver online education mainly to working professionals.
RMN Digital invited Karthik KS, founder & CEO, Avagmah to discuss the trends in the online education market. Here he expresses his views in an exclusive interview with Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of RMN Digital.
Here’s the interview.
1. Which factors are driving the online education market, in general – and for working executives, in particular?
The global market for online education was pegged at $73.8 Billion as of 2011. By 2017, it is estimated to reach $220 Billion. There are several factors that are driving market growth. Employers are increasingly accepting online education as a credible qualification. Thanks to the reach of the Internet, students have access to courses, faculty, colleges and programs outside of their immediate locality / city, thereby being unconstrained by distance. In India in particular, where there is low coverage for education, youngsters are increasingly comfortable with technology. There is a growing penetration of computers, broadband and mobiles.
Among working executives at the senior and mid-level, there is an increased hunger to compete with their global peers. They do not want to be left behind. The lack of time often prevents executives from taking an academic sabbatical to pursue classroom based teaching. And this is where online education comes in. Enabling factors that are driving the market are availability of student friendly software which creates a classroom environment, as well as peer-to-peer and faculty-to-student collaboration, thus eliminating the need to be in a classroom
2. When even most formal educational institutions fail to produce employable workforce, can a privately run virtual platform ensure quality of education?
Absolutely – online education can be nimble and fast and can rapidly adopt to the changing business environment. We can edit / create newer contemporary syllabi in weeks whereas brick-and-mortar takes years or even decades to create / update courses that meet the needs of modern business. Students who pursue online education can work on contemporary case studies and are more closer to the business world. Thus their education helps them grow in their careers armed with contemporary practice-based theory taught in our virtual classrooms.
Karthik KS, founder & CEO, Avagmah
3. What measures has Avagmah taken to provide value for money to its students or buyers?
Avagmah offers contemporary, industry relevant education which is delivered by practicing professionals. They impart what they currently practice thus increasing the productivity and chances of career growth for our students. Avagmah students are both migrant and resident netizens, and are deeply wired to the collaborative world. Therefore their peer-to-peer interaction is much higher as the study environment is similar to the interactive world of social media where users connect. Avagmah faculty continue to work in industry and are thus discussing current day industry best practices with Avagmah students. Avagmah faculty are also available for student mentorship.
4. Do you have a formal SLA (service level agreement) in place for the students?
There is no SLA. However, the 150% y-o-y growth in student numbers and multiple referrals per student is testimony to the quality of our courses.
5. What backend technologies Avagmah deploys to ensure full availability of its online platforms?
Our backbone is the ‘Avagmah technology platform’ which comprises the online content creation engine, Avagmah virtual campus, student collaboration and student management tools. Avagmah virtual campus is delivered to smartphones of students. They can utilize otherwise non-productive hours such as while traveling by bus, train etc., to study. The student collaboration tool ensures students can deliberate on classroom discussions, online, thus enhancing involvement in subjects.
6. As online education market is already cluttered with service providers of different shades, how do you plan to stand out in the competition?
We believe Avagmah already stands out from others in the space. Fundamentally, we are not a service provider. We are an institute that offers courses online. Others are essentially e-commerce portals whose merchandise is education. We believe education cannot be sold. At all times, our efforts are focused on creating a world class institution where students would, first and foremost, approach us for education.
As is the case with world class institutions, Avagmah boasts only of a) best-in-class faculty (most of who are professionals currently working in the industry) b) best-in-class industry and institutional partnerships viz. Subhash Ghai’s Whistling Woods International, Apollo Hospitals etc. This helps us offer contemporary and industry relevant courses.
7. What factors should a consumer consider while selecting an online education vendor?
This is similar to what one would do when seeking an educational institute – quality and pedigree of the i) people running the institute / company ii) faculty iii) any industry / institute affiliation iv) technology of the company. It is only when all the 4 components are of the highest quality should students join.
Karthik KS is the founder & CEO of Avagmah. Karthik is a Mechanical Engineer from NIT Kurukshetra and PGDM from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan – Delhi. Hailing from Kerala, he was born and completed schooling in Durgapur and did engineering in Haryana and Delhi.
Karthik started as a young executive in India’s leading tech company HCL selling CAD-CAM solutions to the first-time-user (FTU) segment in Delhi. He later worked with MicroUniv – the education division of Microland Ltd. in India.
This interview is published under the RMN Digital’s “Thought Leaders” series in which top tech market leaders of the world express their views on different burning issues and market trends.