Founder Interview: THE GATE ACADEMY

TheGateAcademy

A huge population, a burgeoning middle class and a culture that values learning; Indian education system should have been an inspiration for the world. Yet, it is still a notoriously difficult sector – even with a large amount of private sector interest in the last few years, no company could achieve long term success. It is in such a scenario that certain startups are making waves, building on a lean structure and rapid innovation. One such venture is THE GATE ACADEMY, that has been at the forefront of GATE prep and built up a pan India presence of 50+ centres in a short time. We talked to Ritesh Raushan (Co-Founder) who shared more details about GATE and his venture.

GATE prep is a less heard of part of the huge test prep industry in India, can you share the dynamic of this test – how many people take the test, how has this number changed over the years?

In earlier years, student’s motivation for taking GATE was primarily for M.E./MTech admissions at IITs / IISc and NITs. In recent years more and more PSUs have standardized GATE scores as qualifying criteria for most of the recruitments. HPCL, BPCL, IOCL, NHPC,NTPC, Power Grid, CONCOR, GAIL, DDA, BHEL, BEL, TCIL, NALCO, MECL, MECON etc. accept GATE Score. PSU ambition is fuelling growth of GATE applicants.

.

GATE aspirants are growing year on year. In 2009, 1.43 lac students applied for GATE whereas by 2013 it has increased to 12 lac applications. It is more than 730% growth and we expect this to grow more in coming years.

.

When was THE GATE ACADEMY launched? Why did you choose this sector?

THE GATE ACADEMY story started on 2009. It started at a very small level with the first branch at Bangalore. Mr. Nitin Rakesh Prasad, who is GATE All India Rank 9 and is passout from IISc Bangalore used to take care of the academic side and I contributed towards the expansion of the Brand by Franchise model.

.

GATE Test Prep sector, in its initial years, was primarily unorganized. It had local level individual tuitions houses, some local stars and only one organized player. We saw a clear opportunity in the organized sector and hence took a plunge. Being an organized player with pan India presence we are able to deliver quality through our teachers who travel and teach. With 50+ centers and thousands of GATE aspirants, we are able to provide accurate benchmarking via our Mock Tests.

.

What are the type of courses offered by THE GATE ACADEMY?

Needs of GATE aspirants is not uniform. Students are spread in geographies with varying level of access to technologies. They are at various levels of preparation. Taking cognizance of this variety in need, we have devised different courses to bring quality GATE education closer to GATE aspirants.

.

Classroom Training Program is our flagship course that adopts a 360 degree approach to prepare students. It has personalized classroom coaching, GATE syllabus focused books, pre-recorded video lectures to develop concepts and a series of tests that challenges the application of concepts gained so far. This course also has Mock Tests taken by thousands of students all over India, to accurately benchmark level of preparation and course correction.

.

procGATE is the exact simulation of upcoming computer based GATE 14 which has gone online for all streams.

.

Apart from this, we have a variety of distance learning courses to choose from.

.

homeGATE provided live interactive GATE lectures by IIT / IISc faculties to be consumed via internet at individual level at home.

.

inGATE is live interactive GATE lectures provided to engineering college classrooms that are far off from city centers.

.

tabGATE is complete GATE education on tablet including video lectures, e-books, GATE quizzes and Mock Tests. This does not require any internet connection. We are the only academy from organized GATE sector that provide GATE education enabled tablets.

.

We are the only academy in entire education sector that has “cash on delivery” model for delivery of correspondence and other courses for convenience of students.

.

GATE Online Test Series is the largest online GATE test series that provides 70 online tests at a very reasonable price.

.

You seem to have built up a pretty much pan-India presence, how have you managed the growth? What model have you employed to make sure that you retain your vision & quality?

There are two parts of the question. I would address them separately.

.

1) We started small and decided to grow by franchise model but we wanted to stabilize the courses, contents, operations and support. Once we were expansion ready by 2011, we have increased from 6 to 50+ centres across India in 2 years span. Franchise mode has been our strategy to expand horizontally pan India.

.

For increasing penetration in locations where we are present, we have employed two pronged marketing strategy. First is to maintain visibility inside College Campuses by doing ground level activities such as seminars, scholarship tests etc. Our seminar campaign “lakshyaGATE” had tremendous response with more than 1000 GATE aspirants paying entry fee to listen to us.

.

Second part of the strategy is completely based on digital marketing including SEO, SMO and SEM. We invest heavily in digital marketing. We have in-house talent that is complemented by external industry experts. Riding on these expertise we are able to build a FaceBook community of 1 Lac GATE aspirants. This is largest education community in India on Facebook.

.

lakshyaGATE at Salem
lakshyaGATE at Salem

2) Coming to the second concern, retaining vision and quality without compromising of growth is still an interesting challenge. We have adopted various strategies to address this problem.

.

We have a process oriented Faculty Development Program (FDP), designed in conjunction with faculty from IIT Madras. FDP is employed extensively to increase the quality of classroom delivery of our esteemed lecturers.

.

We augment classroom teaching with various course materials whose quality can be centrally controlled. These include printed study materials, pre-recorded subject lectures by GATE toppers, various subject level and chapter level online assignments and full length mock tests.

.

With increase in internet penetration, we have started focusing on digital delivery of live lectures from our hubs where it is easier for us to maintain quality of faculties.

.

On the strengths of these quality measures, we are able to ensure that THE GATE ACADEMY is able to produce GATE toppers year on year.

.

How have you seen the test prep industry change over the years?

Industry is getting organized. Positive change is that exams have changed from paper pencil to online which improved in correction accuracy, correction duration and exam structure & patterns.

.

On the other side, we have seen students are welcoming virtual learning. Eg.Classroom Students from Agartala, Tripura can view classes conducted by Bangalore Faculties. Technology has opened doors for providing quality education right at their door step.

.

You have recently launched tabGATE device? What is your plan behind offering a dedicated device for GATE prep.

As per our research we have noticed that GATE aspirants like working people find difficulty to dedicate time for preparation but they feel that they can utilize break time or waiting or travelling time. We have noticed a change that day by day people are getting mobile friendly and getting used to the habit of consuming online content & e-books.

.

So with the help of mobile device technology we introduced tabGATE, which comes with preloaded materials, video lectures and mock test. It is handy, very convenient to use, no need of internet and can be used for general purpose as well.

.

What is the one tip that you would want to give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Implementation is the key for any startup. I believe that an entrepreneur should aim at achieving 80% accuracy in his plan in 20% of time before he goes for implementation. If he aims for covering the rest 20% perfection, he will end up spending another 80% time. Efficient utilization of time is the essence of fast track growth.

More information at THE GATE ACADEMY

Author:
A bit of education, a byte of startups.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *