Mumbai-based edtech startup Imarticus Learning is gaining popularity with an annual average growth rate of 40 percent. The startup’s industry specific skilling solutions in the areas of finance, technology, analytics, and management have also entered into partnership with over 480 companies.
However, co-founders Sonya Hooja (37) and Nikhil Barshikar (41) had a humble beginning from Andheri, Mumbai in 2012 when the country was not this gung-ho about online learning. The duo had to work hard to market their product and business model to answer the important question,“Why should a fresh graduate pay an additional Rs 1 lakh after his graduation?”
The brother-sister duo has always been keen on creating large-scale impact in the skill training economy. Learning meets industry needs Prior to starting up in 2012, Sonya was working in Accenture Singapore in strategy development and had also consulted with the government of Brunei for nearly seven months on its tourism and education policy.
She also conducted workshops for the Prime Minister’s Office in Singapore on problem-solving and project management skills and various public sector executives on ways to develop business models and monetisation strategies for SmallGrid in Singapore.
An MBA graduate from INSEAD, France, Sonya has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Information Technology from Rutgers University in the US and has been closely associated with the financial services world throughout her career. When she returned to India in 2012 for personal reasons, she decided to start up in the development space along with her brother. She recalls one common complaint across corporates in financial services – they were spending too much time on training fresh graduates and wanted skilled and talented workforce.
Their first course to address this need, Certified Investment Banking Operations Professionals (CIBOP) was introduced – and it continues to be the startup’s flagship programme till date. “We took fresh graduates, trained them in very specific skill sets and then took complete responsibility for their placements,” Sonya says, adding that the initial success led to further product expansion into areas of finance, analytics, and technology over the years.
Additional programmes on marketing and management were introduced earlier this year. Major corporate companies including KPMG, IBM, Deutsche Bank, Citibank started showing interest in partnering with Imarticus Learning in co-creating courses and placement opportunities. Priced between Rs 70,000 and Rs Rs 1.7 lakh per course, the platform has a placement record of 65 to 85 percent led by its 15-member placement team.
“We don’t try to teach them the entire gamut of the domain but upskill them on specific skill set and go into significant depth so that there is value for both learners as well as the corporates,” Sonya shares. This also led the startup move from a B2C focused platform to catering to B2B clients for corporate employee training as well. The B2B channel contributes to 20 to 30 percent of the business, according to the founders.