Prachi Joshi Johar
NEW DELHI, Sept 07
Premier education portal eGurucool.com has launched its Smart Study programme, putting in action a definite plan towards non-advertising revenue generation. The programme is the first pay-to-use B2C product offered by eGurucool.
The web site has also launched a new channel, CuriousCity, and has revamped its Study Abroad channel, which is a comprehensive source of information on all aspects of overseas education.
Through Smart Study, eGurucool aims to bring to consumers a systematic course structure that straddles five broad categories. These include the CBSE curriculum for Standards IX-XII, and preparatory courses for IIT, engineering, medical and MBA entrance examinations.
The Smart Study kit is packed with comprehensive notes, test preparations through an exhaustive question bank and a test mechanism with percentile ranking. The entrance examination section has simulated test areas, practice sessions and performance trackers.
Students who use the testing mechanism get a percentile ranking of their performance, based on a comparison of an average of 100 such students who take the same test. For instance, if a particular student among five scores the least, the ranking would display him as twentieth from bottom in a list of 100.
"It has taken five months of exhaustive preparation to get Smart Study on the site," says Ashish Goyal, chief technical officer and co-founder, eGurucool. There are about 50 modules in the Smart Study kit under the five broad heads.
The content for Smart Study is being generated by a nationwide network of qualified teachers, all specialists in their respective fields. The content providers also track users' performances, and help address individual problems such as underachievement. The channel also provides effective interaction among students and tutors through chat. Tutors also answer queries through e-mail.
A formal launch of Smart Study is to be announced next week. The soft launch, which happened three weeks ago, simply involved putting Smart Study on the site.
"The response to the soft launch has been very encouraging, and that too without any promotions," informs Goyal. "We expect to generate a sizeable response after the formal launch which will be followed by the promotional campaigns slated for the last week of September."
To facilitate payment, eGurucool has rolled out its own currency - eGurucool currency. Pin or authorization numbers of a particular denomination, akin to those on credit cards, are assigned to this currency. Consumers who want to subscribe to the programme can buy these pin dockets from either the company's offices or their e-partners, who also happen to be their independent sales agents.
Subscribers can even send a demand draft to the company and acquire pin numbers of a particular denomination. Once the subscriber is registered on the eGurucool site, he can enter the pin number on the site and gain access to the course content he has applied for.
An online payment system will start in the next three weeks. "The idea is to support as many systems of payment as possible," says Padmanabh Sinha, chief financial officer of the company. "We want to give the consumer the convenience of paying through whatever mode, online or offline, suits him."
The prices for the different courses of the Smart Study programme range from as low as Rs 400 to Rs 3,000. Which is the distinct advantage that Smart Study has over conventional offline courses that are exorbitantly priced, feel Sinha. Prices apart, the availability of content anytime, anywhere is another factor that can take Smart Study a step ahead of its offline competitors.
In a year's time, eGurucool plans to generate revenue in excess of Rs 10 crore from the Smart Study programme. Ambitious, but Sinha reasons thus, "Education is very important for both students and parents in India, and it is evident that people are willing to pay for it. Keeping this in mind, if the right product is delivered in the right fashion, there is no reason why it shouldn't succeed."
Incidentally, Smart Study comes close on the heels of the second round of funding, in excess of US $10 million, that eGurucool received in July this year. The key investors in this round of funding were Chrysalis Capital, Star TV and an unnamed international organization.
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