KOCHI: A vast number of students moving to online media has catered to the emergence of many edu-tech startups across the country. When all the platforms delivered their courses in English, a startup from Kochi took a different road by offering courses in vernacular languages. Avodha, a vernacular upskilling platform founded by 24-year-old Joseph E George currently has 20 different courses in four regional languages.“The courses are available primarily in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. We are offering six of our courses in Hindi as well. English is available, but we focus more on offering our services in the regional languages,” says Joseph.
Joseph, in his second year of college, developed an open-source notes aggregator app, Vidya Education Application, where students can upload their notes and curriculum and access it anytime. The BA History student was able to develop the app by learning coding through YouTube. During the production process, he realised many people aren’t able to learn using YouTube as most of the content is in English. “I believe language shouldn’t be a barrier,” says Joseph.
Coding, digital marketing, accounting, are a few of the 20 upskilling courses offered in Avodha. At the start of the venture, Joseph took up several roles — he built the platform, taught classes, and took care of the sales as well. At present, it has 500 employees and around 1,500 freelancers. “We now have around 70,000 students,” he added.
Students can switch courses if they haven’t completed 30 per cent of the course. According to Joseph, students will not be charged any amount if they switch to a different course. Also, if the students don’t complete the course in three months, the company would allow its users to extend the course timing. For all the courses, Avodha follows uniform pricing, including those which cost more than one lakh in general. “We don’t want money to be a hindrance for students to find their passion,” adds Joseph. Though the total cost of each course is `12,800, the students have to pay only `2,800, the rest can be paid once they get a job through their platform.
“Most of the students are studying to get a job. If the educational institution fails to ensure that they are employable, then the hefty fee would go in vain. We follow the income-sharing model, and it is quite popular in the USA and Europe,” says Joseph. Avodha’s job portal helps students to connect with better job opportunities upon completion of the course.
Apart from having the software courses, the young entrepreneur has set his foot in the hardware arena, making Avodha the first startup in India to impart skill development in hardware. “We are in the process of launching courses like electric vehicle engineering. As the government and private sector are pushing to get the electric vehicle consumption up, we need mechanics in the space, and the present market has a huge deficiency for that,” informs Joseph. The company has its physical outlets in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kannur, Hyderabad, and Coimbatore.