After founding two edtech startups — Xcelerator and PurpleLeap — Amit Bansal and his three-member team realised that during the college years, it is possible to create maximum impact on students by skilling them on specific tools.
After further research, the team discovered that the core aptitude of a person which defines one’s suitability for different career roles is defined in the first 13-14 years.
This led Amit and his team — Manohar Kashyap, Swarup Vijh, and Pramod N — to start WizKlub in Bengaluru in 2018. The startup combines technology and research in cognitive learning to empower K-12 kids to get started on a skill.
For this, it uses a three-step model to engage students in higher-order thinking, process information at deep levels, make critical interpretations, draw relevant and insightful conclusions, and use their knowledge in other situations to solve new problems.
“We decided to come up with a scientific programme to build these skills when the age is right. We worked on the product for six months, including prototyping and pilots to establish product efficacy. Our product has 83 percent efficacy rate, which is quite remarkable for a learning product,” says Amit.
The startup aims to provide high-quality education to school children through advanced science and technology.
“Our mission is to create a million thinking minds who are lifelong learners, adept problem solvers, and creators of technology for a better future,” says Amit.
WizKlub has two flagship products – Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) programme and SmartTech Programme to develop skills in children of ages six to 13 years.
The HOTS programme is designed to achieve cognitive skills with critical thinking, logical reasoning, and problem-solving. The programme ensures that every child is a smart reader and a smart problem solver.
The WizKlub SmartTech Programme helps children as young as six years to build and code technology. Every month, the child builds and codes a tech product such as a smart light, gesture-based remote control, chatbots, etc. The programme aims to build lifelong skills and confidence to create tech products by the application of coding, robotics, smart devices, and problem-solving.
“Each child gets a personalised learning path based on the existing proficiency and the learning progression. Every week, the child interacts with the facilitator to master one skill and then move to the next one. The sessions are conducted in small groups of five to six children,” explains Amit.
One major challenge the team faced initially was that the product was delivering results in terms of improved learning and problem-solving aptitude, but only those parents who were actively involved in their kids’ learning journey were able to witness the results.
They could see that the child has become an active reader, is able to read between the lines, is asking intelligent questions, is more inquisitive, and is not scared of unseen problems, which was not the case before joining the programme.
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),” says Amit.
“We were able to demonstrate similar efficacy of 85 percent improvement on the third-party assessment WISC as well. Our programmes are being accessed by students across the world,” he adds.
The edtech space and team
This is the team’s third edtech venture. The earlier two ventures were in the higher education space where the team worked with over 50,000 engineering students across India. The total team size as of May 2020 was 50 employees and hundreds of trainers across the country.
WizKlub is currently targetting K-8 school students. With COVID-19, edtech startups and the push for online education has been growing significantly. The new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 will also give a push to the startup as it promotes creative learning among students to boost their employment prospects.
There is also a significant push for learning of coding and programming early. Last week, edtech unicorn BYJU’s announced it has acquired coding edtech startup Whitehat Jr. for $300 million, making it one of the biggest deals in the edtech space.
“WizKlub has always been designed to leverage the power of technology for better learning experience and efficacy. From personalised learning paths for every child or providing scaffolding support that helps build the right cognitive processes, WizKlub has extensively used technology. We will continue to leverage cutting edge technologies to deliver great learning experiences to our students,” explains Amit.
He adds that the K-12 supplementary education sector in India itself is worth $15 billion (Rs 100,000 crore). The number of K-12 students in India currently stands at 350 million, and half of them are in the K-6 segment itself. According to a report by KPMG and Google, the online education market is expected to cross $2 billion by 2022 and $4 billion by 2025.
“We have moved the core aptitude (IQ) of more than 3,000 students. We are on track to have 10,000+ students by the end of next quarter,” says Amit.
WizKlub has raised angel and seed funding from HNIs, Incubate Fund India, and Insitor Impact Asia Fund. The startup works on a subscription model, and charges Rs 500 per month for a single programme.
The investment ranges from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 per year, depending on the programme. The distribution model is centred around instructors who impart lessons to students either virtually or physically.
The instructors are selected, trained, and certified by WizKlub’s learning and development team. The entire programme’s design and curriculum is structured to ensure the permanence of learning. The instructors ensure extremely high programme completion and learning efficacy rates.
“Most of the edtech players in the k-12 space are still focussed on curriculum (Maths and Science). WizKlub, on the other hand, is focussed on core cognitive skills (aptitude) that make every student a smart learner (reader), an adept problem solver and a technology creator,” explains Amit.
He adds that most of the school students in India suffer from “memory and recall”. The rote-based learning method fails when subject areas become more complex and when the problem areas increase in both breadth and depth.
“We are building a platform that will provide an easy method for parents to discover and consume the best programmes for their children based on their interests and aptitude. This would be the one-stop destination for parents to get all skills necessary for future success,” says Amit.