Traditional classroom education for a working professional in India is almost next to impossible and hence, the 9-to-5 employee life has cut short many academic goals over the years. Not just working professionals, but young aspirants also gave up many ambitions, as they were either living far away from the institution they wanted to study in or they succumbed to family pressure and compromised with an easily available option. None of that stopped the largest youth population of the world from dreaming big and considering the likes of Harvard and Cambridge.
Those aspirants are now the target of many online learning platforms. The growth of the smartphone and internet availability in India has caught eyes of many businesses and one is online education. The brainchild of Byju Raveendran i.e. his online learning platform 'Byju's', is valued at $600 million. Ronnie Screwvala has also invested in the education space and launched his online learning platform 'UpGrad' another contender in the sea of new players blossoming in the ecosystem.
Another e-educational platform is 'Unacademy' which has associated itself with digital content creators 'The Viral Fever' (TVF) to garner the attention of teachers who are passionate about their profession.
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Gaurav Munjal, says Unacademy is number one in the category at this stage and is set to launch a robust business model within the next two months. "We are not making money yet, but we have the largest pool of students and soon we will have a business model which ensures everyone benefits," says Munjal.
A former software engineer, Munjal considers Stanford alumnus Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng's 'Coursera' as its competition, "There might be players in the country spending more on advertising but we are way ahead of them. Our competition is global players," he adds.
TVF created a video featuring a young Indian female who aspires to become a teacher, but her father forbids her from pursuing the profession. The video is very similar to the trailer of the Aamir Khan produced 'Secret Superstar'. The dialogues, characters and scenes are quite similar to the 'Secret Superstar' trailer. The five and half minute film ends with a message that a passionate teacher will always find Unacademy a valuable platform to pursue their passion.
The video went live on Teacher's Day 2017 (September 4th, 2017) and fetched over half a million views in the first 48 hours. "Our team and TVF have worked together on this project and we are very happy with the reaction we have received so far," Munjal adds.
The biggest chunk of students comes to 'Unacademy' to prepare for competitive exams followed by language courses. 60 percent of the total pool now comes from tier II and tier III cities while the remaining 40 percent come from the top metros. Munjal sees this changing massively in the near future, "As Reliance Jio gets more popular and launches their new feature phones, the education industry will see a significant pool of students coming in from the rural parts of the country and that will spell the next phase of growth."
While the film's content lives up to TVF's high benchmark, will it appeal to the ones who have not watched the 'Secret Superstar' trailer? "The trailer has fetched over 12 million views; of the 12 million if 25 percent connect and relate and get engrossed in our video, it will be a great number for us," says Vijay Koshy head of Brand Partnerships, TVF.
Koshy's opinion is that everyone agrees that brand integration is the next big thing, but very few actually try it. "I have an analogy to explain this, all of us believe that Soya sticks are healthy, but how many of us actually try them? We keep pitching various ideas and whenever a brand feels like innovating, we create sketches -- this is an example of that," he adds.
The brand integration is subtle which works great for the content, but won't viewers miss the brand? "I don't find a problem here," says Gopa Kumar, Executive Vice President, Isobar. "The fact that they have chosen to use this sort of brand narrative and this integration, the branding could not have been overt. If it's more overt, it tends to be seen through as more of a push than pull. And integrations work when it's subtle but relatable."
The success of the brand integration is contingent upon the popularity of a movie trailer. Isn't that a tad risky? How does a brand justify the ROI with such a narrow window? "True, that's a risk which the brand has taken," stated Kumar.
"While not many may know of the movie, it could prove to be a handicap for the success of this brand integration, but for people who have been exposed to the trailer, they'll easily relate to how they've tried to seamlessly integrate the storyline and create a brand narrative. The only plus for the movie is that it's an Aamir Khan Production which he stars in and is featured in the trailer. That should add some recall to the movie and hence the brand integration. It's a fairly long video and since it's on the web, it reaches out to the targets anyhow; so again, it should not be a huge problem," he adds.
Does it reach out to the teachers, which is the main motive of the integration? "This is where I have a problem with the narrative and the entire integration," says Kumar. He adds, "When they say they are reaching out to teachers, it is not the case in the communication. It seems more like it's reaching out to students or at least that's how it felt, and just doing this integration and releasing it on Teacher's Day does not say anything."