Featured Startup Pitch: Gradestack wants to make test prep more social and convenient for Indian students

Gradestack logoBy Shobhit Bhatnagar, GradeStack co-founder

Elevator Pitch: GradeStack is an educational companion which helps students discover courses of their choice and connect with their peers to compare and discuss their performance. The courses are built in partnership with educational publishers who own print/digital content that is optimized for delivery on mobile devices.

Product/Service Description

GradeStack is a student’s educational companion, where students can discover and take courses of their choice and connect with their peers. Our goal is to give the student the option to learn, test or discuss on-the-go in a quick five-to-ten minute timespan. We partner with educational publishers to build courses that are delivered to users on their mobile devices. Hence, GradeStack is an advanced mobile learning platform with text, images, videos, flashcards, assessments, and discussions, that makes learning a lot more fun.

Founder’s Story

GradeStack was started in January, 2013 by Vibhu, Sanjeev, and myself. We were working on separate business ideas within education when we met during a startup event and connected on our ideas. We then founded GradeStack with the goal of making education accessible on mobile devices, giving students an opportunity to study and test themselves quickly, on-the-go.

About our backgrounds, I did my MBA from IIM Calcutta and worked in analytics consulting before turning into an entrepreneur. I take care of business partnerships and marketing for the company.

Vibhu is a computer science engineer and has worked at Yahoo and Naukri.com in the past. He was also the founder of Floost, a social media startup. He leads product development.

Sanjeev worked with Infosys in the past, and leads the mobile development at GradeStack.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy

Our marketing efforts are a mix of online and offline means. We use our partners’ reach—through their books, institutes, etc., to push along offline means on one hand.

On the online front, we have a well-defined strategy which uses SEO, App Store optimization, and content marketing to attract users. Due to the interactions between users, our product is inherently social in nature, and that also drives a lot of users through referrals.

Market Opportunity

Test prep is a huge space globally; within India itself it is a USD $2 billion market, and it is a much larger opportunity internationally. This business is dominated by offline players established over the last 15-to-20 years. The challenge is that the cost of delivery and reach of offline is very limited if you need to maintain quality. The big benefit of a mobile/online model is that we can deliver quality, personalized education at a fraction of the cost, and this equals a huge opportunity.

How We Differentiate From the Competition

Mobile learning by itself is at a nascent stage, but has immense potential to grow with the growth in mobile penetration and being increasingly used as productivity devices. It is still very early to compare different products since all of them are in an initial stage of finding their space.

How we differentiate from most others in this space is that we act more on a marketplace model where learning content is sourced through different publishers. This gives us the flexibility of scaling at a fast rate without investing a lot upfront. Most of the more established players are more web-focused, while our focus is a lot more on mobile.

Business Model

We get content from partners like Cengage, Pearson, and McGraw-Hill, and offer our courses on a freemium model—once a student registers for our course, some content is available for free, and then the student can access the complete course by paying for it.

Current Needs

We are investing a lot in getting more courses on our platform, including some international exams such as GRE, GMAT, etc. The focus is on partnering with top-quality content owners globally and launching courses for different markets. Apart from this, we are always in the process of strengthening our technology team and are looking for enthusiastic developers for the same.

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GradeStack team

GradeStack team.

Headquarters: Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

Website: www.gradestack.com

Founders: Vibhu Bhushan, Shobhit Bhatnagar, Sanjeev Kumar

Investors: TLabs/Times Internet Limited

Incubator/Accelerator: TLabs

Year Founded: 2013

AngelList: angel.co/grade_stack

Twitter: @grade_stack

Facebook: facebook.com/GradeStack

CrunchBase: crunchbase.com/organization/gradestack

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