WizKlub is a Bengaluru based ed-tech startup, that builds cognitive excellence for school children through its HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) and SmartTech programs. WizKlub’s Founder and CEO, Amit Bansal is a serial entrepreneur with over a decade in start-up experience across three Ed-Tech ventures; and 10 years of corporate experience across strategy, business development, technology, product management and marketing for consumer and enterprise technology products across India and North America. His earlier ventures include Xcelerator and PurpleLeap. In an exclusive interaction with CXO Outlook, Amit talks about the current education system in India, opportunities for Ed-Tech companies, WizKlub’s unique research-based programs for 5-14 years, and many more.
The nationwide lockdown and school closures have brought online learning providers into the spotlight. How is WizKlub responding to it?
WizKlub program is a hybrid learning environment which has a facilitator driven session to enable students to get started on a skill. The students complete 10 workouts on each skill that enables them to make the skill part of their natural skill.
WizKlub facilitator driven sessions have moved completely online in this era of lockdown. We have ensured that appropriate pedagogical changes have been made to ensure learning efficacy in the online classroom as well.
What would you like to change in the field of Ed-Tech or our current educational system in general?
Most of the school students in India suffer from the “Memory and Recall” as their predominant method for learning and problem-solving. The Rote-based learning method fails when subject areas become more complex and when the problem areas increase in both breadth and depth. Focus on underlying skills such as comprehension, problem-solving, critical thinking and logical reasoning ensures that the children are being prepared for a future where the most rewarding careers would need a person to be a lifelong learner and adept at complex problem-solving.
What are some of the most innovative technologies in Ed-Tech right now? What are the key trends of this sector to follow in 2020?
Artificial intelligence is changing every industry and would have a tremendous impact in the area of education as well. Automated grading for accurate assessment of interest and skills, personalized learning paths, more engaging learning through conversational AI are some of the areas to watch out for.
What are the opportunities WizKlub see in the Indian education market? Also, what are the challenges for you to become a major player here?
The k-12 market can be largely broken into 2 segments. One segment caters to the curriculum support (Math, Science) and has players like Byjus, Topper, Vedantu. Most of the parents in this segment start shopping for solutions in grade 6-7. The other segment is the early-years segment where the parent is looking for programs beyond the school curriculum. This segment is by and large fragmented and suffers from a lack of quality solutions. WizKlub is catering to the early years market and is offering an affordable solution that imparts quality experience and learning efficacy even at scale.
One major challenge that we faced initially was that the product was delivering results in terms of improved learning and problem-solving aptitude but only those parents who were involved with their kids’ learning journey were able to witness the results. The involved parents could see that the child has become an active reader, can read between the lines, is asking intelligent questions, is more inquisitive, is not scared of unseen problems, which was not the case before joining the program. However, the other set of parents was not able to appreciate the difference as they were expecting results in terms of visible output. We solved this problem by demonstrating the improvement of the world’s most popular IQ test for children, WISC (Weschler’s Intelligence Scale for Children). We were able to demonstrate similar efficacy of 85% improvement on the third-party assessment WISC as well.
How did you come up with the idea of HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) and SmartTech programs? How has been the response to these programs so far?
This is the third EdTech venture of this team. The earlier 2 ventures were in the higher education space where the team worked with over 50,000 engineering students across India. We realized that at that stage we could create the maximum impact by skilling students on specific tools. However, at that age, the basic aptitude of a student is pretty much cast in stone and cannot be changed significantly. So, if a student does not have programming aptitude, one cannot be trained to become a good programmer. More research established that the core aptitude of a person which defines one’s suitability for different career roles is pretty much defined in the first 12-13 years. And unfortunately, the Indian schooling system is still focused on curriculum, instead of focusing on core aptitude that makes one smart learner and adept problem solver. We decided to address this issue by providing a scientific program to build these skills when the age is right. We worked on the product for 6 months including prototyping and pilots to establish product efficacy. Our product has an 83% efficacy rate which is quite remarkable for a learning product.
What is the unique appeal of WizKlub? How do you distinguish yourself from competitors?
Firstly, the products offered by us are designed with research in cognitive learning. Additionally, it also provides a personalized learning path for every learner based on existing levels. The major highlight is hybrid learning cutting across facilitator, app, conversations through Artificial Intelligence Innovation.
Most of the Ed-Tech players in k-12 space are still focused on curriculum (Maths & Science). WizKlub, on the other hand, is focused on “future skills” – the skills needed by children to succeed in future. WizKlub HOTS program ensures one stanine improvement in core cognitive skills (aptitude) that make every student a Smart Learner (Reader) and an Adept Problem Solver. The SmartTech program, on the other hand, ensures that each student develops the skills and the confidence to be a “Creator of Technology” instead of being just a passive consumer.
What would be the future of Ed-Tech market from now? What is some advice that you have for startups that are emerging in the Ed-Tech space?
The ed-Tech sector is finally taking off. Our initial survey suggests that more than 50% of students with access to a smartphone and internet connection would end up experiencing some e-learning solution this year.
The most important aspect to keep in mind for any startup in the Ed-Tech space is to focus on solving a real problem. Most Ed-Tech companies fail as they try to force-fit a technology to a situation, so don’t start with the question – how can I use AI in education? Instead, start with a real problem and find out what all does it take to solve that problem. Tech should be a means to solve the problem and not an end in itself.