Aditi Avasthi worked with TCS in the UK and Barclays Bank across Africa and the US, before deciding to pack her bags and return to India in 2012. An alumna of Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Punjab, and the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, US, she currently runs Indiavidual Learning, a startup backed by venture funds like Kalaari Capital and Lightbox Ventures, that uses data driven insights to help students improve their performance in examinations.
Embibe.com is their platform for students taking the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) or the All India Pre Medical Test. IIT JEE (Advanced) all India topper, Chitraang Murdia and third ranker, Govind Lahoti are some of the students who have improved their ranks after taking tests on Embibe. Another student, Oamkaar, saw his Mains’ score significantly increase from 70 to 105 using the Embibe platform, which focuses not just on academic weaknesses, but also on improving critical exam taking skills like speed, accuracy, time management, stamina and planning. They currently have more than 1,00,000 registered students from over 270 cities in India. Access to the platform is priced at less than `1,000 per month, for the full practice and test module.
“I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur, even while working for global companies like Barclays or TCS. Having personally gone through the grind of preparing for entrance exams, I knew exactly how tough it was to get a seat in a reputed college. After meeting students, parents and teachers across 11 cities in India I found out that it had gotten even tougher! That is how the idea for Embibe took shape,” recalls Avasthi.
She adds, “Corporate life instilled a sense of discipline, and taught me how to create a structure out of ambiguity. My stint in Africa, where I was managing a very big team, helped me become a team player, and taught me how to work together to achieve business goals.”
Born in Ludhiana, Avasthi lived in different parts of India, because her father had a transferrable job in the civil services. He recently retired as Chief Commissioner of Income Tax. Her mother, who also cleared the IAS exam decided not to pursue it further to take care of the family. An outgoing student, she took part in debating, extempore, and public speaking competitions and also had a keen interest in art.
“I believe that it is extremely important to pursue something apart from the regular school curriculum. It was always an outlet to express myself and grow as a person. Life lessons do not come from books. In 1999, I appeared for the IIT-JEE, but did not clear it. I felt it was because I did not study Chemistry as much as I should have. In September 2012, I founded Embibe to personalise the crucial mentoring and academic guidance needed by young people in India — a country where one mark can determine your access to college. It is very important for every student to feel that they have an equal shot at the exam.”
In March, Embibe.com acquired 100Marks.com, a popular platform for IIT-JEE preparation that offers a forum for resolving doubts and allows students to study on their own using ‘gamified’ adaptive practice tests and prompt exam updates. The combined entity had a footprint of four million page views last year.