Indian student registrations at US universities is up 52% since 2015, but international acceptance rate at Ivy Leagues likes MIT, Harvard and Columbia is still 3-4% and incredibly hard to get into
Abhishek Singhal, a graduate of MIT Sloan and IIT Delhi, is a millennial impact strategist focused on mentoring young people and building new ventures.
Kamini Vidisha, the other founder of UnivAdmitHelp took a leave of absence from Harvard University to set up Anavi Learning, a partner company of UnivAdmitHelp; Vidisha is a committed educator with focus on free-learning and constructivism.
They came together to form UnivAdmitHelp. “We are education mentors,” says Singhal. The company aims at prospective university students hopeful of getting into the top-20 colleges in the world. “We have developed a unique model which is focused on building deep skills and a true mentoring service which enables its respective students to learn survivability. Admission into a top-notch college is just a by-product,” Singhal said. Their services include mentoring, application support and storyboarding, career selection advisory, and subject selection advisory.
Right now the team is involved in building an AI enabled virtual mentoring platform and has already built out a wire-frame POC (Proof of Concept) for the same.
The company currently has around 1000 subscribers. And Singhal, only plans to attract more with increased marketing efforts. “Consumer marketing play a very important role in our business. Consumers, often are unaware of the education journey that they are planning to undertake and driven by misinformation make sub-optimal decisions.
Irrespective of whether they become our clients or not, it is extremely critical that they are supported in their decision making. We create a lot of useful content in this space and consumer marketing helps us distribute it to the relevant audiences and get the eyeballs that make it count.”
We offer a very niche service. Not everyone wants to go down the route of study abroad in an Ivy League university. Our approach is very simple – we create great content. And using that as a hook, we drive customers to our website or convert them into one-to-one meetings.
However most of our business now comes through referrals but the underlying strategy remains the same – build great content and deliver excellent service”.
Their services cost $5,000 and are based in large markets for education, Delhi, Mumbai and Dubai. The venture is bootstrapped and founded with personal savings and money from friends and family of $150,000.
“We have not raised funds for the business as yet. We are very optimistic about raising capital but I don’t think I shall be needing it for the next year or so. Our clients have put their faith in us and support us with their checkbooks,” surmises Singhal.
“Education counselling is an extensive cottage industry in this country. Anyone or everyone has become an adviser without the relevant experience or credentials. There are people who claim to send their students to Ivy League colleges without even having set foot in any one of those ever. I wonder how?
After we came back from MIT and Harvard, we started helping young startups with building their business. In the process, we helped out a few others in building their MBA application. We realized that people are battling a crisis of confidence and are outsourcing the effort to prepare an application to education counsellors. This process usually does not turn in great results and students get habitual of crutches that they come to permanently rely on.
So for UnivAdmitHelp, we recruited people who have graduated from top universities to work directly with students one-on-one. This person is a full time mentor who is invested in the student’s future and is committed to achieve it. This leads to great professional outcomes. The student learn skills which are not focused on in a tradition education set up. Getting an admission in a top school is just a by-product”.
Singhal says challenges have been many. “The following story encapsulates the initial challenges we faced: We had set up an event to meet prospective students and their parents. This event was scheduled on a Sunday at a club in Gurgaon. We did extensive marketing for the event – printed out flyers, sent out mailers and even went from society to society distributing pamphlets or setting event notice boards. All of this entailed sizeable costs – I think we spent close to 40 to 50,000 rupees. On the day of the event, I wore my best suit and went to the event venue. And I waited for students to turn up. While I was waiting I ordered a cup of coffee. Not one single person turned up for the event. Only later did I realize that I had the most expensive coffee ever.
Cannot say that I enjoyed it!”
With those tough times behind the company, looking forward Singhal hopes to triple revenue for this financial year, “Our FY 18 -19 performance is on track and we should achieve our numbers”.
Singhal further said, “I would be lying if I said that it was a cakewalk. Building UnivAdmitHelp has been tough. But every time we thought we were done, the universe conspired to keep us going. One time it was the heartfelt thank you message from a student who got into Harvard, the other time it was a friend who offered support and help… We could not stop”.
Source: BW Disrupt
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