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Making education accessible and affordable

Jul 07 2014, 01:49 IST
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SummaryA Delhi-based serial entrepreneur is simplifying the learning experience through innovative technologies in rural as well as urban India

Judged as Bollywood diva Sridevi’s comeback vehicle, English Vinglish was one of the most-anticipated movies of 2012. But when audiences walked out of theatres (or turned off their screens) after watching the film, it was to talk not about the star, but her role: of Shashi Godbole, the Maharashtrian housewife from English Vinglish who smiles through her family’s taunts at her sub-par English language skills. Humiliated for her inability to speak English, Shashi joins a four-week course at a language school, and the movie ends on a happy note with Shashi making a heartfelt climactic speech in fluent English. The movie is inspired by countless true stories of people struggling in their personal and professional lives due to their inability to interact in English.

Vivek Agarwal, CEO of Liqvid, the elearning company says, “I was once talking to a taxi driver and asked him if he wanted to learn English. He said he did because all his customers sitting in the backseat used to speak in the language, which he did not understand and hence felt small. So there is a basic feeling of inadequacy if you can’t speak English.”

Liqvid, (based on two root words: ‘Liquidus’—Latin for ‘fluid’ or ‘flowing’, and ‘Vid’—Sanskrit for ‘to know’) is trying to address this need. Liquid, by definition, takes the shape of the mould. Seen as a language of utility by many, English is fast becoming an essential business tool for firms across the globe. Almost everyone aspires to converse in perfect English. In a country where an elementary understanding of the language can increase social mobility, open up job prospects, failure to grasp the language can prove to be a real handicap, adds Agarwal.

A product of IIM-Calcutta, Agarwal started his startup Liqvid in 2002. He is now the chief executive officer of the company. He has launched EnglishEdge, a software to provide English language learning at an affordable cost. Prior to this venture, he had co-founded eGurucool which was subsequently sold to NIIT.

It was this thought that gave birth to EnglishEdge, a programme that empowers teachers to deliver an effective learning experience through technology. “The programme is available through the Internet on computers, tablets and mobile phones. It has nearly 1,500 hours of content,” Agarwal says.

Based out of Noida, a suburb of New Delhi, Liqvid has an impressive infrastructure that delivers quality learning services that

include custom content development, training design services, technology services, and learning support services for corporations, academic institutions and government organisations across the world.

Liqvid is a venture launched by key members of egurucool.com, which had established itself as India’s foremost elearning brands, created over 8,000 hours of elearning content and had tied-up with over 1,600 schools. “We, at Liqvid, pride ourselves on having gained reputation of being an eLearning company which matches global benchmarks and delivers rapid eLearning through cost-effective solutions.”

The company follows a unique technology based, learning methodology that leverages the power to technology to make learning scalable. The English programmes are offered on PCs, tablets and mobiles.

Liqvid has more than 250,000 learners across schools, colleges, vocational institutes and corporate for this programme and its customers include IIT Delhi, Jamia Millia, British Council and Educomp. Liqvid also has a tie-up with BBC Active.

Agarwal has a passionate

interest in education and is

committed to exploring how technology can be used to make high quality education and training available to a very large number

of people at a cost that they can

afford and at a place they can reach. Liqvid sells its software

to schools, colleges, training

institutes and corporates. Its

audience ranges from six-year-olds to middle-aged users.

Agarwal says, “In the next three years, we are targeting about 5,000 schools. We currently have a few hundred. Our goal is

to reach 10 million learners across top 500 cities. By 2017, our goal is to reach 10 million learners across top 500 cities. We charge between R500-5,000 per learner per programme for a single course of 60-100 hours. Where there are more than a 1,000 learners in one place, we license the software for close to R2-3 lakh a year,” he says. We plan 5,000 more centres by 2017, he adds.

Liqvid aims to make quality education and training available to billions of people at a cost that they can afford and at a place that they can access.

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