Within weeks of the first phase of the lockdown in March in India, well-known schools in the big cities launched online classes. Soon, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom became household names as teachers instructed students over their smartphones and laptops. However, for students in smaller towns or those enrolled in budget private schools or even government schools, an online schoolroom seemed impossible as school administrations scrambled to find an affordable, tech-light model which did not require training the teachers or hiring an IT team at the back-end. While make-shift arrangements on WhatsApp or even television channels worked to some extent, these have their limitations when it comes to tracking attendance, submission of assignments or live interaction between students and teachers. And of course, there is the affordability factor.
Illumnus, a B2B SaaS-based collaborative learning management system (C-LMS), aims to solve some of these problems. Easy to set up with no technical expertise required, the app available on Android and iOS, promises not just to move classes online, but to bring the entire school with all its activities online. It offers features such as video lecturing, online examination, organised assignments, smart attendance model, content recommendation and in-depth analytics.
“In order to enable education to reach all doorsteps we have started an initiative of ‘Re 1 per day per student’ offer to all the educational institutions across India. The same offer is at ‘$2 per day per student’ in other countries, but we decided to give an 80% off for Indian schools,” says Akash Singhal, co-founder & CEO, Illumnus. “Tier-1 and tier-2 cities will be our main target for the next 18 months. We are also in talks with state governments and the education ministry for rolling out the LMS for government education institutions.”
Once an institute signs up, it gets separate accounts/credentials for admins, teachers, students and parents through the dedicated main app, parent app and admin app. Unlike most apps wherein the teacher must create each and every class/ course and the student must join every class/ course individually, on Illumnus when any teacher or student logins for even the first time, all the courses which the teacher is teaching in the institute are already there and easily accessible just like WhatsApp groups. Also, the teacher need not invite each student separately by entering students’ email ID, or give out a course code. With Illumnus, all the students are already linked to their respective courses/subjects just like in a normal school. Teachers and students can share and discuss notes, study materials, assignments, quizzes, etc., managing day-to-day attendance making knowledge dissemination centralised, simplified and collaborative all at the same time.
As of now, it has more than 20 clients in India. Illumnus works on a licence-based subscription model, charged per student/per licence. It also has some integrated premium features like live video lectures which are charged separately on a per hour basis. Besides India, it has clients in Dubai, New Zealand, UK and South Africa. “We recently crossed a 7-digit figure in revenues in three months of operation,” says Singhal.
At the same time, Illumnus is extending its platforms for free to schools which are in dire need of the LMS systems but have limited funds, on a case-to-case basis, he says.
Illumnus’ tech infrastructure plays a significant role in user experience, for which it is using AWS servers and security systems. “We secure data with globally accepted data security and encryption standards so that even in the worst possible breach, users’ personal data stay secured and unaffected,” says Singhal.
The startup was founded by Akash Singhal, Akshaya Singhal and Devashish Saxena in July 2018 and launched its first stable product in September 2019. It has recently raised a $100,000 seed round from angel investors in Dubai.
Singhal points out that while the B2C edutech segment has taken off well in India, it is a crowded market with no directives of a synchronised learning system in place. “Our core ideologies are different in terms of imparting knowledge and skills. Illumnus’ Collaborative Learning Management System provides educational institutions with their internal digital learning network,” he says.