Cash may have been the most-prevalent payment mode for educational institutions traditionally, but a push for digital economy post-demonetisation is making them change too and this has prompted three young professionals to start OnFees — an online fee platform. Having tasted big success in Mumbai region with 35 organisations including some chains of institutions, and over 70,000 students on board in a very short span of just about 3 months, OnFees is now looking to expand to other parts of the country and is in talks for the second round of funding.
While the first round of funding came from HNIs, the startup is looking for funding from established private equity and venture capital firms in India and abroad, its Chief Marketing Officer Manisha Thakur told PTI. 30-year-old Manisha, an MBA in Marketing, is part of the trio that set up OnFees — the other two being CEO Mayur Jain and Chief Technology Officer Viral Dedhiya. 32-year-old Mayur is CA by education and has worked with global giant PwC for abut six years, while 31-year-old Viral is an electronics engineer.
Speaking about their venture, Manisha said most of the institutes have always been collecting fees mostly in cash but the government’s demonetisation move last November, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made the cash collection very difficult. “We saw that as an opportunity for starting an online fee platform like OnFees.com. Besides, this also takes care of another pertinent problem faced by the educational institutes — irregular and untimely fee collection,” she said. “We are making the entire process simpler and streamlined — for payment of feels by the students or their parents as also for the institutions to receive the payments in a timely and hassle-free manner. “We are providing features like regular communications and notifications and are linking the existing accounting solutions of the institutions with our platform to serve the institutes better. We are in a way encouraging people to go digital,” she added.
Mayur Jain, CEO, said they are looking to expand to other parts of the country after August, and the areas to be tapped initially include Bangalore as also cities in states like Gujarat, MP and UP. “Therefore, we have decided to go for the next round of funding,” he added.
In the first round, OnFees raised Rs 2.5 crore of growth capital, giving it a valuation of Rs 10 crore. “Mumbai is always a great market to test quality. Now that we have been successful in the Mumbai and Maharashtra region, we are continuing to add more institutions to our platform and the numbers would increase substantially once we start going beyond Mumbai and therefore the valuation would also see a huge jump,” Mayur said.
Asked about what kind of valuations they would look at in the second round of funding, he said that we are in talks for the next round of funding and now that we have successfully overcome the teething issues, which any start-up goes through, we should be able to get a good valuation,” he added.
Viral Dedhiya, CTO, said OnFees is also in talks with several banks for partnerships on fee payment gateways. This will help the customers of these banks to access all the facilities that Onfees has on offer, which today the banks do not provide. Some of the banks provide just the facility of fees payment which is one way communication.
What OnFees does is that it keeps the students updated on all the communications from their respective institutions. As a value add, OnFees has already tied up with HDFC Group’s education loan venture Credila for education loan segment to facilitate funds to students.
The startup is targeting to bring on board more than 5,000 institutions and over 60 lakh students, Viral said.
Giving example of what kind of positive changes OnFees has brought in for the institutes on its platform, Manisha said Niramala Niketan College in Mumbai, before they had OnFees integrated, was accepting DD or cash for fee payments. “It was inconvenient for everyone because fee payment was always an extra time taking job amongst many priorities like attending lectures, preparing for exams or other academic events for students. “The institute management started with OnFees to make it convenient for students and save their time, but in the process institutes also benefited by having digitised system at the back end. Fee collection was so seamless this time that institute could collect 70% fees within 2 days, and all this at no cost to the institute” she said.