Exclusive: Live learning platform NeoStencil raises $1 mn in investment
Ed-tech startup NeoStencil India Pvt. Ltd has raised $1 million (Rs 6.67 crore) in a funding round led by media house Times Group's ad-for-equity investment arm Brand Capital and California-based Paragon Trust.
91Springboard, M&S Partners Pvt. Ltd founder Hirokazu Mashita and Jabong co-founder Praveen Sinha also took part in this round, NeoStencil co-founder and COO Kush Beejal told VCCircle.
The company had previously raised $60,000 (Rs 38 lakh) in May 2015 from Paragon Trust and US-based entrepreneur Dr. Piyush Dhanuka.
NeoStencil was founded in December 2014 by brothers Love and Kush Beejal. Love, an alumnus of AIIMS and IIM Ahmedabad, had worked as an investment banker on Wall Street and was the CEO of a healthcare company in San Francisco. Kush, an IIT Bombay and IIM Calcutta alumnus, has eight years of experience in startups and larger organisations.
A one-stop destination for UPSC preparation, the company provides live as well as recorded classes, test series and study material from top civil services institutes and teachers in the country. The platform also features discussion forums and counseling facility for students.
Neostencil claims to have over half a million students, of which 60% come from tier II, tier III cities.
The fund will primarily be used for new offerings, including courses in state, judiciary and banking services, apart from marketing expenses and improving user experience. Part of the proceeds will also go into a new mobile app that would encourage learning on the go.
"Learning cannot happen in isolation through outdated or pre-recorded videos, nor can anyone become a teacher overnight by starting online or offline courses. More than a disruptive technology, we are an enabler and transformer of quality education," says Kush.
Neostencil offers more than 150 courses and have instructors with an average of 15 years of teaching experience.
According to a report by research and advisory firm RedSeer Consulting, the online education market in India is about $2.5 billion in 2016, and is poised to grow at 15% over the next three years.
One of the most funded startups in this segment is Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd- owned Byju's. The Bangalore-based ed-tech company had raised $140 million (934 crore) last year, to expand its reach in the domestic market with a learning app, and launch its services to other English-speaking countries to become a formidable player in the K-12 tech-enabled education business.
Civilsdaily is yet another online startup in the education space that aggregates news relevant to civil services aspirants. It had raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Malgharia Advisors' co-founder Manoj Kumar and other HNIs in March 2015.
Unacademy, run by Sorting Hat Technologies Pvt. Ltd., had also raised $4.5 million (Rs 30 crore) in Series A funding led by Nexus Venture Partners and existing investor Blume Ventures, last month.