Recent developments in the Indian education sector have paved way to the emergence and growth of many innovative business models. With the sector providing a USD 40 billion opportunity the growth potential for players in this sector are immense. Riding on the resilience of this trend, social businesses like EduSports, which are dealing with school sports and Physical Education (PE) curriculum, have grown leaps and bounds in a short span of time.
EduSports is Indian School Sports Organization with a vision of helping millions of children all over the world become healthier and fitter. EduSports currently works with over 550 schools spread across 250+ locations in 4 countries, and engages over 450,000 children in an inclusive and positive sporting experience. They are the pioneers in India for providing in-school sports structured program, using a combination of In-house developed service based curriculum model and technology best suited for Indian schools.
EduSports’ curriculum is designed specifically for Indian schools to help them tackle the challenges of limited space. The company has successfully brought about a change in the way sports or physical education is perceived – that it is not meant only for competitive children playing for trophies, but has to be inclusive of all children, and improve the child’s general fitness levels. Also, EduSports is the first company in India to work with pre-schools to plug the gaps in physical activity.
Sujata Sangwan Interacts With Saumil Majmudar, Co-Founder and CEO, EduSports And Spoke To Him
How did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?
The EduSports journey started from a very casual remark from a friend of mine that his 6-year-old son was not engaging in enough physical activity was getting hooked to TV & computers. The parent observed that there were hardly any healthy, social avenues for his son to mingle with children outside of the school. Clearly, parents wanted children to play and stay fit and healthy but there were not enough opportunities for children to have a fun experience around sports. After trying various ideas on a direct B2C model, I realised that schools might be the right partners for helping children experience the magic of sport.
That was when EduSports was started.
How does EduSports work?
EduSports focuses on building a sustainable & scalable model for getting children to play by helping schools deliver sports as an integral part of every child’s education.
EduSports uses Structured Physical activity & Sports as a pedagogical tool for developing mental skills, behavioral skills and physical conditioning in children with periodic assessments.
The EduSports program has the following design principles:
Age-appropriateness (of the activity & equipment)
Adequate equipment for all children to stay engaged
Inclusion i.e. all children get to play. Not only the talented ones.
Assessment. Each child gets assessed and fitness/skill parameters tracked.
Designed for limited space & time. Our program fits into the school’s constraints of limited space & time.
Parent engagement – Ensuring parents participate in the process of building healthier & fitter children
EduSports has been instrumental in making a fundamental change to the education system by convincing schools to adopt a curriculum-based, age-appropriate and structured PE/sports program. Today, most schools have started talking about a sports curriculum. Something that did not exist 7 years ago!
Parents and school leaders now view sports as an integral part of education that helps build fitness and also improves social skills.
What were the challenges you faced while setting up the business?
In mid-2008, we started knocking on school doors with the idea of making sports an integral part of education. Out of 100 schools that we tried to reach, 90 threw us out saying “Parents don’t want sports for their kids; they want their children to only learn maths and science”. But 10 of them said, “That is interesting. Tell us more”. Of these 10, three said, “Where have you been all this while? I know my sports program is broken, but I don’t know how to fix it!”
When we started, we did not have any of the tools (curriculum, assessment, monitoring etc). We only had the desire to get children to play in schools.
Some of the early schools trusted our sincerity and decided to give us a chance – but also challenged us on how we are going to actually execute the program throughout the year. In partnership with the schools and with a sharp focus on ensuring that the on-ground program delivery is world-class, we kept iterating and fine tuning the various tools used to deliver the program with accountability & transparency.
At the start of the EduSports journey, we had to evolve to lay emphasis on the program for the young kids segment and not the middle school segment. The nursery-5th standard age group was better suited to the programme demands of most school leaders since they saw a huge gap in the early childhood years when it came to sports and physical education. At the same time, schools didn’t see enough value is just the content-tech platform model which we had zeroed upon as the core product for EduSports. They wanted us to ensure the delivery of the program as well. This meant recruiting and training of PE teachers, something we had never envisioned.
The EduSports programme required at least one qualified and trained resource to be present in every school. Till date, availability of highly-skilled graduates from a sports/PE background is the biggest challenge to scaling-up. After the initial hiccups, when the EduSports programme gathered momentum across the country, it brought with it a different set of challenges; a majority of which were related to scaling the service delivery model in remote locations.
The entire operations team had to be prepared to service a tier-2/3 city and we required the skilled manpower to execute the programme on the ground. Thankfully, we had the reporting platform in place, which helped us track the programme delivery in remote places.
Today, EduSports is present in more than 100 cities in the country and through its operations, hiring and training teams can help set-up a school with a minimal lead time.
Who are your competitors?
In India – EduSports is the leading player in this segment having the advantage of being the early starter in this segment & then building on the foundation. Other enterprises like Leapstart, Sports Gurukul, Kooh Sports and Tenvic work on almost similar lines across institutions today.
How is your business model different from the existing ones?
The EduSports business model is about schools outsourcing the school sports & PE programs to us. Schools integrate our program into their timetable and EduSports becomes a part of the overall educational experience that schools provide.Schools pay us on a per-child-per-month basis from the fees they collect from parents.
Most sports programs are retail i.e. consumer-paid in the form of academies and summer camps. The EduSports business model makes sports an integral part of education and gets a share of the school fees paid by the parent to the school.
Who are your clients? How do you look at expanding?
As of now, we have seen that a majority of our clients are CBSE and ICSE schools. Many of these schools fall in the annual fee range of 25 to 60K and hence have the required budgets to sign up for the program. We have also partnered with over 150 Government Schools spread over 4 States. Some of our clients include PSBB schools, Narayana group of schools, Delhi Public School Society, Pearson schools, Global Indian International Schools etc.
EduSports aims to reach 1,000 schools and get a million kids to experience the magic of sports in the next two years.
What are the traction details?
We have been adding 100+ schools every year and have seen many large school chains work with us over years.
We started in 2009 and today, in 2016, we work with 500 schools.
What is the funding status and how do you monetize?
We started the business with our savings and investments from friends & family – followed by an angel round and then SeedFund – an early stage VC fund – invested in 2010.
In 2015, Gaja capital – a private equity firm has recently invested 10mn $ in SportzVillage (the parent company of Edusports). With the funding, we will seek out new growth opportunities in addition to investing in our current businesses to make them stronger and grow faster.
We monetise by getting schools pay us on a per-student-per-month basis over multiple years in return for the curriculum, assessment, props, trained resource(s), monitoring technology, reporting systems etc.
The best and worst memories while setting up …
Worst memories: When we started, we had to wait outside Principal’s cabins for hours and still not get a meeting. This happened across Tier 1 as well as Tier 2/3 cities. In one case, the Principal sent a message “Please leave your sample behind”. She thought I had come to sell a bat or a ball!
Best memories: The support we got from school leaders in our early days as we had the intent but not the structured method of delivering sports as an integral part of education. Many school leaders were patient as we learnt, helped us navigate the school system, pointed us in the right direction and (rightly so) demanded high performance for each element of our program.
Apart from that, the support & goodwill from our team members who were kind enough to join us on this journey as well as early investors who supported our dream was just wonderful. We wouldn’t have been here without all these folks and the wonderful positive energy they gave us as we were struggling to make this a reality.
Your Marketing Plans so that world know you…
Our marketing strategy is about promoting the notion of sports being an integral part of education. We wish to reach out to school leaders who can be our partners in helping children experience the magic of sport as part of their education process.
We do this through:
Annual surveys on the health & fitness of school children
Media interactions that help in creating public awareness about the need for a structured PE/Sports program that is inclusive, transparent and accountable.
Participating in Education conferences & sharing the impact of our program
Presenting papers in Education conferences.
What is the market size and market opportunity?
There are ~ 25000 private schools with annual fee of over INR 10,000 p.a. in India. Out of these, ~ 14000 schools fall in the addressable target segment with fee point between 25,000 p.a. – 60,000 p.a.
Almost ~1,000 (7% out of 14,000) schools have adopted outsourcing today and spend INR 55 crores on third party providers like EduSports. This number is expected to increase to about 15-20% by the year 2020 i.e. between 2100 to 2800 schools are likely to adopt outsourcing.
This content was originally published here.