Millionlights EdTech Startup Profile EDUKWEST

Millionlights – EdTech Startup Profile

Name: Millionlights
Website: www.millionlights.org
Headquarters: Pune, India
Vertical: Professional Development, Higher Education, Lifelong Learning
Tech: Web App, Mobile App, TV

Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.

Millionlights is an education content provider using technology to achieve massive scale. It was formed to create a better future for millions of people across India through learning and skill development. The Millionlights vision encompasses a hope to be able to reach out to the farthest corner of India and deliver skill-based training to everyone. Millionlights believes that for India to be relevant on a global scale, there is a need for millions of trained, skilled people. Education is the only way to alleviate poverty and move a large underserved segment of the population out of their current cycle of unemployment and make them productive members of society. The inspiration for the brand came from the idea of reaching out to millions of lives and lighting up their future through the use of technology.

We are committed to provide educational access by leveraging technology in order to put the best of internet-based education within the reach of the millions who are currently deprived.

Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.

Chairman – Prof. Pradeep Varma
Prof Pradeep Varma was an Advisor at the National Board of Accreditation where he advised on critical Senior Management issues. He was also overseeing the development of the National Institutional Ranking Framework for the Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India.

Prior to coming to NBA, Professor Varma was Program Director, National MOOCs Deployment at IIT Bombay and Adjunct Professor (Innovation & Entrepreneurship), Design School, IIT Kanpur at IIT Kanpur.

Pradeep has consulted over areas as diverse as Strategic IT Consulting, New Technology Management, Distance Education, ICT Based education and E-Governance and has served as an India expert and Visiting Faculty with the Gordon Institute of Business Sciences, Johannesburg, South Africa. Prof Varma has also been associated with the Ministry of HRD in several strategic areas.

CEO and Founder – Mr. Akshat Shrivastava
Akshat Shrivastava started his journey as an entrepreneur right after doing business administration. He was the co-founder and COO of an IT services company named Xanadutec which is headquartered in the UK. Xanadutec has now grown into a 500 people multi-country IT services and product company. Akshat also founded Alabot, a company in the Artificial Intelligence space that got funded by the Malaysian Government and subsequently merged within their portfolio. Alabot awards (http://alabot.com/press/)

Akshat has also been a part of the NMEICT programme of the MHRD and was actively involved in policy formation for the ICT programme of the Central Government.

What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.

One of the key features of Millionlights is access to the best authored and curated content leading to industry recognised certification on all screens (Mobile, Desktop and TV). This availability of free and open access is missing in India – we are working to plug this major gap and thus ensuring that every Indian has equal opportunity to get skilled – irrespective of where they are and at what socio economic level.

Our vision is to get 50 million learners in India, open access to the best curated content across any device and platform.

Millionlights hopes to disrupt the current education and skill landscape by adding massive scale to reach across millions of Indians and provide open access to education and real-world skills to at least 50 million learners in the next 5 years. We plan to leverage our platforms and technology to ensure that no aspiring learner is left bereft of access to skills and education either due to lack of infrastructure or good faculty, irrespective of where they may be.

The key feature of Millionlights is access to the best authorised, curated content leading to industry recognised certification. The technology used by the start-up facilitates live lectures, offline viewing, TV programs and faculty and industry interactions and are confident of delivering higher learning outcomes through our platforms. The learning platforms ensure peer interaction, faculty handholding, discussion forums coupled with localisation of content.

How was the idea for your startup born?

The inspiration for the brand and the startup came from the idea of reaching out to millions of lives and lighting up their future through the use of technology.

In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.

We are focussing on the Indian market and will continue to reach out to more learners in India.

Who is your target audience.

Our key market is anyone with a need to get upskilled – these learners can be in metros as well as emerging cities across India.

According to the 2014-2015 AISHE Provisional Report, there are now 757 universities; 38,056 colleges; and 11,922 standalone institutions in the country.

Close to 400 Million Indians fall in the college-going age which is assumed to be 15-35.

Our audience is between the ages of 18 to 35 – these constitute a bulk of India’s educated youth who need to be up-skilled, trained and certified. We aim to reach out and train 50 million of these youth.

How many users / downloads does your service have?

215,000 learners on the website and our Millionlights TV channel is live across 250,000 homes in Pune, India

Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart from them?

The way we are approaching skilling and online learning is slightly different.

The problem that we are trying to solve is massive. Attempting to solve this should be a national level initiative with collaboration between content creators, technology and learning providers and most importantly – with active participation from Central and State Governments.

In number terms there are more than 150 million learners to be trained and certified in the coming years – achieving this goal should be a national priority and has to be a collaborative process.

To that end we are already in conversation with global MOOCs courseware providers, universities, content creators to add their certifications and training programmes to our platform. The larger our partner base the better it is for our user.

Our goal is to have a bouquet of courses and certifications that cover a wide range of skills and not be limited to one vertical.

Collaboration rather than confrontation is what will help up-skill our people.

How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.

Our key feature is access to the best authored, curated content leading to industry recognised certification. Our technology facilitates live lectures, offline viewing, TV programs, and faculty and industry interactions. We are confident of delivering higher learning outcomes through our platforms.

Our learning platforms ensure peer interaction, faculty handholding, discussion forums coupled with localisation of content.

Millionlights is spending heavily on creating content which can easily be consumed by a local audience.

What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.

There are multiple avenues for monetization. These include sales of Training Courses and Certifications, advertisement sales and inventory sale on TV and across all our platforms. Going forward, we will also look revenue streams from subscription from viewers of our TV channel

If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.

Initial funding comes from the Founder, and we also raised a Pre Series A. We plan to go for Series A funding in the next few months. We have raised upwards of 500,000 USD to date.

Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.

Launching of our TV Channel – www.millionlights.tv

The launch of the Millionlights TV channel brings a positive disruption to the current education and skill landscape by adding massive scale to reach across to millions of Indians. Millionlights, across all three screens will provide open access to education and real-world skills to at least 50 million learners in the next 5 years. We plan to leverage our platform and technology to ensure that no aspiring learner is left bereft of access to skills and education either due to lack of infrastructure or good faculty, irrespective of where they may be.

What are the next steps in growing your startup.

We plan to work closely with industry partners to increase our bouquet of content and certification providers so that it reflects the needs of the industry. We will also expand our reach across cable networks, OTT and leverage all digital channels to reach the end user. We will also be curating content from leading indian universities and offering it on the Millionlights platforms.

How can people get in touch with you.

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at KirstenWinkler.com.