Vikalp Jain is a techie who believes that software development requires highly specialised skills, best learned with guidance from experienced practitioners. “Online videos or classroom formats are poor substitutes for building real projects with the help of a dedicated mentor,” says Jain, co-founder and president of Acadgild—a technology education start-up. A key partner in this venture is serial entrepreneur Vinod Dham (also known as the father of Pentium). Established in early 2015, this Bengaluru-based start-up has trained over 6,000 students through its professional certification training courses.
“Our turnover is more than a million dollars,” says Jain. “We offer software-programming courses to students in India and the US. About 20% of our 700 active participants come from the US.”
Acadgild is promoted by K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh’s entrepreneurial platform Growth Story. The edtech start-up has raised more than $2 million funding so far from marquee investors including Jupiter Capital, Zodius, and Kris Gopalakrishnan, former CEO and co-founder of Infosys.
How it began
“As a techie, I was very disappointed with the options that were available for people to acquire tech skills,” says Jain. “People had to either go to a training centre, or sit at home and watch boring videos. For people like us who have spent their entire career in technology, we understand that it’s really hard for people to learn a new skill without a mentor.”
Acadgild emphasises on learning by doing, rather than by reading, listening or watching videos. Its mission is to teach hands-on, job ready software programming and business skills, globally, in small batches of 8-10 to both students and working professionals.
Acadgild started off with its flagship programme, Android Development. Within three months, it launched courses like Full Stack, Big Data, Front End Web Development, Business Analytics, Digital Marketing, Machine Learning with R, Cloud Computing, Spark and Core Java. It works on a subscription-based model. For the more-intensive courses such as the job-guarantee courses, the course fee is R15,000-70,000. Mentors get paid for the hours they put in. The start-up is profitable at a unit economics level and is growing by about 30% on a month-on-month basis.
Acadgild aims to be a market leader in the boot camp professional training course vertical in the coming five years. It has also started working with Tier 1 IT services companies on skill-based assessment of employees as well as for recruitment-related solutions. As design is an integral part of technology, it plans to soon launch UI/UX-centric courses.