Can this startup make money from free online mentorship?
Translating impulsive clicks into revenue is too strong an urge to deny for online businesses these days. Bucking the seductive trend towards double-clicking money directly into existence, NCR-based WisTree Solutions Pvt. Ltd is connecting students and professionals with industry experts, for free.
Founded in 2014 by Neelam Kapur and daughter Kritika, the startup says it is the only online platform that offers free mentoring on a diverse range of disciplines such as technology, analytics, design, management and sales. It has 70 mentors and 900 registrations.
The startup’s co-founder, Neelam, hails from an education and training background, having worked in leadership roles at NIS Sparta (a Reliance Group company), and Asia Pacific Institute of Management. Kritika has a background as a computer science engineer and has previously worked with companies such as Zomato and HCL.
If WisTree doesn’t charge its users anything, how does it make money, if at all? Well, WisTree’s revenue model entails drawing commissions of 20-40% from every transaction made through the affiliate links/banners/strategic mentions that the company makes in Careerpedia (integral offering of WisTree) and email chains to mentees and subscribers. Plus, the upfront payments system is also for the third-party platforms that prefer such arrangement.
WisTree’s partners include e-learning platforms Coursera, Udemy, Edx, Magoosh Test Prep, The Princeton Review, The Economist Test Prep, Simplilearn, EssayEdge, PrepScholar GMAT, and Zebra Education.
The founders said the startup was cash positive, having met break-even back in 2017.
Immediate competitors include companies like Tapchief, MentorYes, Dyad, Gainlo, and Pinterview, Kritika said. “While all of these platforms offer some form of mentorship/mock interview preparation, ours is the only platform out there that provides access to mentorship free of cost,” she added.
To scale up in this competitive landscape, WisTree has forged tie-ups with engineering and management colleges in Delhi-NCR to take online mentorship offline in the form of one-to-many sessions, seminars and workshops.
The startup plans to expand to colleges in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune. It says it has been receiving many invitations from placement co-ordinators in these cities.