Amid hectic daily schedules, professionals often struggle to find the time to learn new skills. The option of an academic sabbatical, in the rare case it is available, comes with its own set of problems—career-break, expenses, loss of income. The need to upgrade and up-skill among working professionals, without having to take a career-break, posed a tricky problem. Education industry veteran, Karthik K.S. decided to solve it. “Due to the reduced shelf life of employee skills, continuing education is no longer an option, but a must to remain relevant in the job market. So, we decided to help working professionals pursue higher education, without having to take academic sabbaticals,” says 51-year-old Karthik. In November 2013, along with Sankar Bora, Karthik, who has been associated with the education industry for 17 years, founded AEON Learning. The startup has partnered with several universities to offer higher education courses online and has become a leadingplayer in the online education industry. Besides long-term academic courses, it also offers short-term skill development programmes. In November 2017, Bengalurubased AEON Learning acquired Acadgild, another online learning firm. Acadgild’s founders, Vikalp Jain and Rahul Jain, have since joined AEON Learning as co-founders.
The ed-tech startup, which now reaches out to 22,000 students across 66 countries, found it tough to get its solution accepted by educational institutes. “The online education industry in India was still in its infancy, and our solution was way ahead of the market. Finding takers was a big challenge,” says Karthik. Gradually, the startup was able to bring stakeholders to the table and its learning platform, which seeks to create classroom-like environment online, started gaining acceptance.“Built on the principles of engagement, interaction and motivation, our core objective was to replicate the feel of a classroom. After several demonstrations to various stakeholders, we were able to sign our first few clients,” says Karthik.
Set up with a seed investment of Rs 1 crore, the startup has got a big thumbs up from investors and has received Rs 62 crore in funding till date. The latest being Rs 20 crore earlier this month from MEMG Family Office, a fund set up by Ranjan Pai, chairman of Manipal Education and Medical Group. Other prominent investors in AEON Learning include Vinod Dham, Kris Gopalakrishnan, Atul Nishar Lionrock Capital, Zodius Capital and Jupiter Capital.
AEON Learning, which has a staff of 135, generated a revenue of Rs 13.65 crore in 2016-17 and expects to close 2017-18 with a revenue of more than Rs 30 crore. It is now looking to partner with more universities, bring new courses on its platforms, and expand beyond the 150-odd towns and cities in the country where it offers services. “We have a prominent presence in South India and are planning to focus on expanding further in North and West India. becoming a one-stop solution for all working professionals’ skilling needs,” says Karthik.