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Zishaan Hayath on edtech venture Toppr, startup funding scene in 2016

Zishaan Hayath is no stranger to the Indian startup ecosystem. The IIT-Bombay alumnus co-founded his first company, mobile commerce marketplace Chaupaati Bazaar, in 2008. The firm was acquired in 2010 by Future Group, where Hayath then worked for about two years.

In April 2013, Hayath co-founded Toppr.com. He also runs angel investment group Powai Lake Ventures. Over the past couple of years, he has invested in about a dozen companies including prominent ones such as Ola, Housing, Chaayos and BiteClub.

Toppr is a test preparation platform for engineering, medical and secondary schools students. The platform covers exams such as IIT JEE and BITSAT in engineering; AIIMS, AIPMT and AFMC in medical; and NTSE and NSO, among others, at the secondary school level.

In a conversation with Techcircle.in, Hayath talks about how he co-founded Toppr and the company’s product offerings. He also talks about his investment preferences and lends his views on the Indian startup ecosystem.

Toppr recently claimed that about half a million students used the platform. Hayath says the company’s aim is to reach five million users by the end of 2016.

“Right now, we are operating for 8 to 12 grades and want to expand to 5 to 7 grades. Once that happens, we want to go deeper into the market,” he said.

Talking about the Indian startup ecosystem, Hayath said that 2016 won’t see the funding exuberance that was evident last year.

“Founders and entrepreneurs should be more judicious with the money they have. The year 2016 will be tight on that front [funding]. But you still have an opportunity to build great products because there are a lot of customers in India waiting for great products,” he said.

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