Wizklub Co-Founder and CEO Amit Bansal on how they empower school kids with skills for the future
Born and raised in the beautiful city of Chandigarh, Amit Bansal was a meritorious student throughout with an active interest in sports. One of the key skills that he acquired during his school days was the ability to solve problems. It didn’t really matter whether it was a problem in academics or in general life, Amit was the go-to person for solving any problems.
Later in life, Amit graduated from Punjab Engineering College and did his MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur. Prior to commencing his start-up journey, Amit had worked with various companies including Asian Paints, River Run Software Group and Talisma Corporation Pvt. Ltd.
Amit shared his entrepreneurial journey with us in an exclusive interview. Check it out -
CE: What do you most remember about your alma mater? How did it prepare you for the corporate world?
Amit: XLRI Jamshedpur is a very unique institution. Due to a variety of reasons, the place is designed to be a self-sufficient ecosystem. The small batch size ensured that we developed really strong bonds with each other. The institute attracted the best brains both in terms of peers and faculty and that exposed me to another aspect of growing - by getting challenged with different viewpoints. Another viewpoint brings the opportunity to analyze one's own thinking process and discover the biases that one is carrying in the decision making process. More than the curriculum, it was the interactions with intelligent minds that broadened my horizons.
CE: When did you think of the idea behind Wizklub? Was there a eureka moment?
Amit: This is the third EdTech venture of this team. The earlier 2 ventures were in the higher education space where the team worked with over 50,000 engineering students across India. We realized that at that stage we could create the maximum impact by skilling students on specific tools. However, at that age, the basic aptitude of a student is pretty much cast in stone and cannot be changed significantly. So, if a student does not have programming aptitude, one cannot be trained to become a good programmer.
Research from leading institutes such as Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University established that the core aptitude of a person which defines one’s suitability for different career roles, is pretty much defined in the first 13-14 years. And unfortunately, the Indian schooling system is still focused on curriculum, instead of focusing on core aptitude that makes one smart learner and adept problem solver. We decided to address this issue by providing a scientific program to build these skills when the age is right. We worked on the product for 6 months including prototyping and pilots to establish product efficacy. Our product has an 83% efficacy rate which is quite remarkable for a learning product.
CE: How large is the problem that your company is trying to solve? How is it different from its competitors?
Amit: The skills required to succeed in the professional world are very different from what the school system is delivering today.
The Indian education system continues to focus on curriculum based learning specific to subjects and children adapt to the rote method to do well in subjects they do not grasp well from a logical thinking perspective. Unfortunately, the Indian schooling system is still focused on curriculum, instead of focusing on core aptitude that makes one smart learner and adept problem solver. We decided to address this issue by providing a scientific program to build these skills when the age is right.
Most of the edTech players in k-12 space are still focused on curriculum (Maths & Science). WizKlub on the other hand is focused on “future skills” - the skills needed by children to succeed in future. These cognitive skills would be the most important skills for people to do well at the workplace in future as most careers involving repetitive tasks would be taken by machines in the forthcoming years.
WizKlub HOTS program which ensures one stanine improvement in core cognitive skills (aptitude) that make every student a Smart Learner (Reader) and an Adept Problem Solver. The SmartTech program on the other hand ensures that each student develops the skills and the confidence to be a “Creator of Technology” instead of being just a passive consumer.
CE: Tell us about the market you are targeting.
Amit: The k-12 market can be largely broken into 2 segments. One segment caters to the curriculum support (Math, Science) and has players like Byjus, Topper, Vednatu. Most of the parents in this segment start shopping for solutions in grade 6-7. The other segment is the early years segment where the parent is looking for programs beyond the school curriculum. This segment is by and large fragmented and suffers from lack of quality solutions. WizKlub is catering to the early years market and is offering affordable solutions that impart quality experience and learning efficacy even at scale.
CE: What is the revenue model for your company?
Amit: The business model is subscription based and the investment ranges from 10k to 25k per year depending on the program. Our distribution model is centered around facilitators who impart the program to the students online. We launched the program through events in these apartments and found our early adopters. Revenue model is simple - WizKlub charges a subscription fee to the students who enroll for its program. The subscription fee starts as low as Rs 1000 per month.
CE: What were the biggest technical or operational challenges faced by your team?
Amit: One major challenge that we faced initially was that the product was delivering results in terms of improved learning and problem-solving aptitude but ONLY those parents who were involved with their kids' learning journey were able to witness the results. The involved parents could see that the child has become an active reader, is able to read between the lines, is asking intelligent questions, is more inquisitive, is not scared of unseen problems, which was not the case before joining the program. However, the other set of parents was not able to appreciate the difference as they were expecting results in terms of visible output. We solved this problem by demonstrating the improvement on the world's most popular IQ test for children, WISC (Weschler’s Intelligence Scale for Children). We were able to demonstrate similar efficacy of 85% improvement on the third-party assessment WISC as well.
CE: What is your ultimate vision for the company?
Amit: Our vision is to create a million thinking minds that are trained on Future Skills - skills that need to be acquired today for a better future.
CE: What has been the most fulfilling experience of your startup journey so far? / What part about being an entrepreneur excites you the most?
Amit: The most fulfilling experience is the impact our programs make on the kids. It is a very satisfying feeling when parents share the success stories of how the kid has started loving the problem solving part or how the confidence level of the kid has soared and the kind of intelligent questions that the kid has started asking. Our programs dramatically improve the logical thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving ability of a child.
The most exciting part of being an entrepreneur is to solve problems that make this world a better place.
CE: What is one piece of advice/life lesson you have for young entrepreneurs and budding engineers?
Amit: The most important aspect to keep in mind for any startup in the edTech space is to focus on solving a real-problem. Most edTech companies fail as they try to force-fit a technology to a situation, so don’t start with the question - how can I use AI in education? Tech should be a means to solve the problem and not an end in itself. Instead, start with a real-problem and find out what all does it take to solve that problem.