2020 might have been a tough year for startups across India, but it was the year of being at the right place at the right time for India’s EdTech companies. With the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown that saw schools and colleges close their doors, online learning emerged as the next big thing to watch-out-for. One of them is Practically. Founded in 2018 by Subbarao Siddabattula, Charu Noheria, Ilangovel Thulasimani, Practically uses next-generation interactive methods, such as Augmented Reality (AR), Simulations and 3D videos for an enhanced learning experience.
Practically is built on Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning. “We retain 10% of what we read, 50% of what we see and hear, and increasingly more to 90% when we learn by doing. The more dramatic the experience, the more lasting the recall, and most concepts that are dry can be taught with experiential learning,” says Charu Noheria, Co-Founder and COO, Practically. Bringing back joy into learning and using tech to create life-like experiences Practically uses AI to empower teachers. Practically helps teachers with intelligent insights into their student population, helps them auto-generate question papers, correct answers, give them 2 hours of operational time back, and impact their teaching experience, making classes engaging and effective. “Another problem we tried to solve for is to make everything that a learner needs available on a single app helping the parent pay for a single product with everything right from content, simulations/AR, test prep, analytics/feedback, gamification, doubt resolution to live classes to coding, soon-to-be-launched summer programs, etc.”, adds
An intelligent, interactive, and immersive learning app for students of classes 6-12 with a focus on STEM learning, Practically is the only experiential learning app that brings learning alive through immersive videos, interactive augmented reality, and 3D simulations. It offers an edge over other learning apps by enhancing conceptual understanding and improving retention of concepts with features like life-like video content, hands-on learning, experiential learning, 24×7 seek help with access to subject experts for doubt resolution, live classes, Proton – the AI assistant and study buddy and Coding++. 3,00,000+ students have already benefited from the engaging content on Practically. The App is the largest repository of augmented reality (AR), 3D videos, and simulations which can be experienced on the Practically app available to students to download for free on the Play Store and App Store.
Taking the Lesser-known Route for Education
Having done her schooling from Sacred Heart, Chandigarh and graduating from RV College of Engineering, Bangalore, Charu moved to the US in 2010 to pursue an MBA from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, after which she moved to St. Louis, Missouri to work for Lumeris Inc., where she met the co-founders. “Being part of the competitive rat race for IITs in India back in the day, all I remembered from that experience was stress in learning. I dropped a year, switched five engineering streams, and changed three colleges during the 18 months. I struggled to get my footing right. Unconsciously this left a lasting mark on me, and I was always attracted towards unconventional ways of learning which are different and more effective than rote learning”, says Charu.
Previously colleagues at Lumeris Inc. in the USA, Charu discussed the idea of Practically with her co-founders, Subbarao Siddabattula and Ilangovel Thulasimani, in those very hallways where they bounced off ideas to pursue. “We all wanted to make some of those very dry subjects more interesting, engaging, and fun for learners around the world”, says Charu. Subba has more than 20+ years of industry experience in technology, operations, and management. He was the CTO of Lumeris before starting Practically. A product guy at heart, he is a visionary with tremendous zeal and passion for problem-solving using technology. Ilango is a hardcore techie and was VP, Enterprise Architecture at Lumeris before starting Practically. He loves to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty with code. He has worked with some big names in the industry, such as eBay, Quikr, etc. Ilango leads product development and technology at Practically. “Our Chief Strategy Officer, Bhanu Priya Vaddiparthi, has more than 12 years of experience in technology and operations and has worked in prestigious companies like Sandisk and Dell. She was part of the core team working closely with Michell Dell himself for Dell’s pricing strategy. She has been instrumental in defining Practically’s product and pricing strategy since its early days”, points out Charu.
Rising Above Despite all Odds
Once Practically was officially started, the first couple of years cruised by, and they had a working product, angel investors, early customers, and revenue started trickling in. The challenges began when they wanted to grow the product to become a one-stop-solution rather than a point application so that learners won’t have to pay for multiple apps, and they get everything they need on Practically. By requiring substantial capital upfront to build unique life-like immersive and experiential content, Charu and the co-founders put in all the profits from the existing product sale and went in for their Series-A fundraise, which helped them achieve that. Charu adds, “We faced numerous challenges when we started scaling our business to all parts of the twin states of Andhra Pradesh /Telangana state as this needed a larger team and growth capital. We were lucky that we were able to raise our pre-Series B round just in time to help us scale and grow in this region and further set us up for a pan-India launch this year”.
Looking to expand to other markets with a collective reach of 20M users by 2025, Practically is expected to hire thousands of employees across their teams. By 2023, the company would have comfortably surpassed a unicorn status and will be well on its path to become a Decacorn. The product lineup will also see several additions to keep up with our growth plans. Starting with the K-5 segment this year Practically plans to enter segments such as engineering and medical labs, patient education in healthcare, etc., which is in line with our growth strategy.
Setting their foot globally, Practically is already present in the UAE and looking to move to the US by the end of the year. Although the near-term plan is to expand into other English-speaking countries globally, the company is also exploring with partners in countries where there is a need for content in other languages as Practically’s immersive animated video content can be easily localized. “The Practically School Solution, which is free of cost to schools, will be widely adopted as experiential and blended learning become the norm. Starting this year, Practically is going to be a household name among students and teachers alike. We expect to hire thousands of employees across our teams in various cities, aiming to be the most trusted and preferred EdTech brand globally”, concludes Charu.