The Ed-Tech Company Blending
Traditional and Modern Methods of Learning
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
I am Vijeet Pandey, Co-Founder and CEO of ClassMonitor, an Ed-Tech company. ClassMonitor started off as a communication platform between parents and teachers in 2016, and has evolved itself into a hybrid, early learning tool that marries offline learning with digital cues and rewards. ClassMonitor offers early education solution for kids between the age group of 1-8 years currently.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
After an 8-year long stint in various operations and strategy roles in England, I moved back to India in 2015. The idea came to us gradually, but we realized that education is an indispensable pillar of any nation’s strength, so we zeroed in on the emerging Ed-Tech sector.
ClassMonitor kickstarted as a communication platform between parents and teachers, which provided us the opportunity to meet and understand the needs of various stakeholders of early education (parents, teachers and schools). It is here that we identified the gap in modern education system – parents wanted to be a part of the learning journey of the kid, not only a witness, but the system offered no avenue of parent-child engagement.
We were the first identifiers of this overwhelming gap, and addressed it using a two-pronged solution, which involved combining the traditional with digital. We developed a Phygital learning kit that confined the digital control with parents, while providing immersive and creative physical learning tools to the kids. This entire idea led to higher parent-child engagement and experiential learning for the child.
Our product offerings impact the building block in a child’s educational journey; therefore we have kept quality and affordability as our prime motto. While it is a challenging goal, it is also rewarding to see the profound changes it brings into a child’s life, and this keeps me going every day.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
The journey from the conception of the idea to ensuring customer delight is a challenging one. We experienced many hurdles along the way but overcame them gracefully to carve our niche.
Since we are based out of Indore, we did not get a ready ecosystem for our operations. The readily available resources in Tier-1 cities were a tall order in the early days of setting up business in Indore. Inadequate funds in the initial phase constrained us from hiring the best talent at the best price. However, with an incredible network and extremely supportive early-stage investors, we created a best-in-class product.
Who is your target market?
In the early days of business, my team and I personally delivered the learning kit to customers. I once delivered a kit and was pleasantly surprised to see that the customer was a hotel waitress! She was buying the kit as a Christmas gift for her child. It was then that I realized that what we have created is relevant for people from all walks of society.
Our product is primarily bought by parents in the age group of 25-30 years, with children in the 1–8-year age bracket. 60% of our business comes from top 40 Indian cities, however we are also present in cities where our only reach is via Indian Post! Our market, penetration is across 1000+ cities in 15 countries.
We have always focused on creating a quality product that is affordable and positively impacts a child’s learning journey. Parents with an annual household income of 3 LPA and above can be best described as our customers.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
ClassMonitor has three distribution channels in place (B2C, B2B, B2B2C), however, B2C stands as the prominent channel.
B2C – customers directly purchase the product from the company via tele-calling, Amazon, company website or social media.
B2B – directly selling the learning kits to 200+ Play Schools
B2B2C – we have a robust network of 200+ mothers who are a reseller of ClassMonitor kits in 100+ cities.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
ClassMonitor is guided by rendering quality, affordability and customer delight through its offerings. We offer best-in-class content to early learners across all income sections. Our outstanding customer support team handholds the customer through the stages of product purchase and usage. The 24*7 seamless customer experience has resulted in repeat purchases over the years and a satisfied customer base.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
ClassMonitor focuses on creating quality while promoting openness and creativity. Our team is like one close-knit family. We have an open-door policy, flexible working hours and offer various internal job opportunities to employees.
The team is provided creative leverage and engaged in participative decision-making. This not only keeps the employees engaged but also makes them an essential stakeholder in realizing company’s vision.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
Owing to a strong tech team in place, most of our software is internally built. This gives us the option to make regular changes to suit customer’s need.
However, we have also deployed the best software in the industry for administrative and productivity processes – Dation, to keep track of team member’s work and progress; Tally, to manage Accounts and Finance activities. Deployment of these software has helped in making ClassMonitor a process-driven company, rather than a person-driven company.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
An entrepreneur’s journey is marked with peaks and troughs, but one eventually learns to ride the wave.
The most important lesson that I have learned is perseverance. The fact that I never gave up and continued believing in myself has brought me where I am today. I was mindful of my mistakes and ensured that lessons once learned are not learned twice, and this helped me from committing the same mistakes. The lifelong lesson that will stay with me is to be always learning and always moving because unless you do these, you will not make any progress.
To sum it up, I would say that it was the best of the times and it was the worst of the times, but I kept moving.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is in the shoe of an employee, a boss, a mentor, a friend, a student – all at once! I never realized that I could learn so much and mould myself so quickly until I had become an entrepreneur.
Being the captain of the ship, a lot of sensitive decisions fall on my shoulder, and over time, I have become a better decision-maker. The unexpected business challenges have never let things turn monotonous, they have made me agile and eager to learn. And the joy of watching your business grow from scratch, it not only keeps me motivated but also makes me more responsible towards my team.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The early phase of the entrepreneurial journey requires a huge investment of time and energy, which casts a shadow on the entrepreneur’s personal life. The imbalance between personal and professional life can be disconcerting.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
I listen to various podcasts on Clubhouse whenever I find the time. I regularly review the papers published by Harvard Business Strategy, Sloan Management Review and articles published by The Ken. In addition to this, I find the writings of Peter F. Drucker very relevant.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
Already having carved a niche for ourselves, ClassMonitor is set to dominate the early education market in India and beyond. With at least a thousand employees and an annual run rate of 200 crores, we are targeting a global footprint and deeper penetration across the Indian market.