Briefly explain the model of Uolo.
Uolo is a mobile-first B2B EdTech platform that connects a range of EdTech offerings to the learners and parents, via schools. Making EdTech available universally was the mission with which Uolo was started. On the demand side of the education market, interventions are needed most for learners who are not financially well-off. Yet, EdTechs are priced much higher than what people can afford. 70% of the EdTechs are priced around the INR 20,000 mark, while 98% of the learners pay less than INR 30,000 per annum in school fees. The lack of efficient and effective distribution capabilities tends to make EdTechs expensive and unaffordable, and hence inaccessible. Uolo, as a platform, attempts to solve this problem.
How is Uolo using technology for simplifying the education system in India?
The learning crisis in India is both a testimony to the problems that surround the education system and a direct consequence of it. Technology, while revolutionizing other sectors like food delivery, personal and goods mobility, health, etc., could not make a significant dent on the state of the Indian education system. Technology, by itself, fell short in driving the needed transformation, because of affordability issues in EdTechs.
The pandemic, however, has taught schools to extend beyond the four walls of the school and traditional school hours, through digital products. We use technology to bring schools online and provide them a range of EdTech products that parents find affordable, thus enabling successful scale-up of these interventions.
There are many apps in the cloud, how does your app Uolo stand out in the booming Edtech applications?
The “booming” edtech space has been a fast-evolving one. While we saw the emergence of Physicswallah as a unicorn without venture capital, we also saw reversals in the cases of Lido, Udayy, Vedantu, and WhiteHatJunior. On one hand, we have Byju’s that has figured out their sales machine; while on the other hand, smaller companies struggle to take their offerings to the market.
The point to notice is that there is no dearth of quality offerings or less motivation to pay for products. The problem is the lack of efficient distribution that makes EdTechs simply go beyond the reach of the masses.
Uolo gives schools and parents, as customers – affordable yet high-quality products. The base products are free and premium products are priced affordably. A typical coding program by multiple B2C companies charges Rs. 700 per hour, in contrast, Uolo in partnership with schools delivers coding classes at Rs. 700 per year.
What do you envisage about the future of Uolo?
The future of Uolo is directly linked to the future of education. The future is expected to be completely different from the past. The pandemic has taught schools that digital products can be adopted and learners can be reached beyond the school’s space and time constraints.
We foresee that schools will adopt technology en-masse and learning products will be pursued the after school hours. We also envision making EdTechs as affordable as school education today.
We anticipate reaching 50,000 schools and 20 Million learners by 2025.
Who all are your partners? What kinds of roles are they playing for the seamless functioning of Uolo?
We partner with schools to build a strong distribution network. We bring the schools onto the Uolo ecosystem and are able to reach parents at zero cost. We are currently working with over 5500 schools in the country.
At the supply end of education, we partner with organizations that can provide high-quality, original, and pedagogically proven content, which is then productized into a mobile-friendly form by Uolo. This digital product is then deployed by the school and consumed by the learners.
We also partner with service providers that struggle with high marketing and customer acquisition costs. We bring their services to our platform and enable their consumption through the distribution network of schools. These services will vary from building skills in public speaking to problem-solving to and even playing chess!
What are your future aspects of expanding Uolo?
Uolo currently offers learning programs in English and Coding. It also offers a Public Speaking program.
As our network of schools and strategic content partners expands, Uolo will also offer products in other academic areas like Mathematics and STEM education. It will also offer products and services related to extracurricular thematics like critical thinking, chess, calligraphy and various dance forms.
In due course of time, we envision to perfect this model of making EdTech more affordable and accessible to the masses. This template will then be scaled to other developing countries and contexts that have similar challenges related to the uptake of EdTech.
The schools are opening now, so how do you think Uolo is going to function efficiently post-pandemic?
Uolo was designed to engage and work in sync with schools in the post-pandemic era. We understand that the school ecosystem is extremely important for learners’ overall development and learning. For us schools are not just customers, but partners in transforming education in India.
The pandemic has exposed schools to digital products, but their scale-up has been restricted due to affordability issues. Uolo gives the school a range of products to choose from as per its choice.
Through Uolo, the schooling system essentially comes online. The school and Uolo together forge an alliance that gives learners the needed physical touch, warmth and encouragement through the school, and supplementary learning at home through affordable digital products.