Communication tools play a major role in education: Shaji Thomas, co-founder & chairman, Entab

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November 2, 2020 4:15 AM

During the lockdown we were able to provide a lot of support to schools remotely. Our offerings are 50% management-centric and 50% student-centric.

Shaji Thomas, Co-Founder & Chairman, EntabShaji Thomas, Co-Founder & Chairman, Entab

During the lockdown, Entab—which provides school SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions—scaled up its product offering by adding new features including online assessments and live video integration. “This quick thinking enabled our partner schools to keep providing quality education to their students even during the lockdown,” says Shaji Thomas, co-founder & chairman, Entab. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that the growth, going forward, will come from regional schools that are realising the importance of using technology. Excerpts:

Has your business model changed due to the lockdown?

During the lockdown we were able to provide a lot of support to schools remotely. Our offerings are 50% management-centric and 50% student-centric. A few years ago our application was purely for fee collection, salary preparation or financial accounting management or report card preparation, but now the scenario has changed; today, communication tools play a major role in education.

During the lockdown we also saw a slowdown, especially in the first three months. But our business started growing July onwards, and month-on-month we are seeing 40-60% growth in terms of business generation. While school revenues were also impacted, they understand that they need technology utilisation. The most in-demand model is the one that caters to online examination.

Do you also cater to higher education institutes?

While our application can be used in higher education institutes, there has been a slowdown in the higher education space since 2015; a lot of colleges got closed and even the number of students reduced. As a result, many higher education institutes adjusted their finances accordingly—wherever they can save money, they are saving. From 2010 to 2015 we were focusing on higher education, but later on we put our full concentration on the K12 segment; K12 is evergreen—if a school has, let’s say, 3,000 students today, next year also it will have 3,000 or more students.

And do you cater to government and public schools?

We cater to elite schools across the country, whether it’s a private school or a trustee school; even DPS and DAV and similar school chains are our clients.

While we are trying to tap into government schools and state board schools, they lag technical infrastructure needed for technology solutions—even at times in terms of the necessary number of computers needed or good internet connectivity. We are serving army, navy and air force schools, and about 20 Sainik Schools are using our software.

Where does the growth lie, going forward?

While right now about 1,100 schools are using our solutions (in terms of live usage), with 20 lakh students, we are now planning to penetrate deeper into the country, beyond big cities. That’s where the growth lies. We may offer them smaller packages, dedicated to their needs.

At the same time, digital transformation is now happening in the education sector, which was previously lagging in technology investments. Covid-19 has accelerated its growth, driven by irreversible adoption of technology and changes in user behaviour. The market opportunity for players such as Entab is huge, with more than 3.5 lakh schools in India. In the next five years, we plan to expand to 3,000 schools and enter neighbouring geographies.

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