“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”
Keeping up with technology and developing modern techniques in the field of education is not only a step forward into the development of the present generation but it also paves a more solid ground for the scholars of tomorrow to walk with their head held high without having to wait and trip at every loose stone. By scholar, we don’t mean just an engineer or a doctor but every child who grows up into a creative genius when the breeze sweetened with the fragrance of the flower he/she loves most invigorates the passion within that child to be something, reach somewhere in life.
And Aurus Network is one such organization that comes with a vision to make quality education accessible to the masses at affordable prices. Founded in 2010, it pioneered the use of internet-based, live 2-way HD classes which connected the best teachers with students across the country and eliminated the need for costly hardware-based video conferencing or VSAT (satellite based) equipments and networks.
To get into the details of such a wondrous initiative, Team Startoholics got in touch with Jaya Jha, Head of Marketing & Product team, Aurus Network. She gave us the following inputs.
How would you describe Aurus Network to a person who has just heard about it?
Aurus Network’s flagship product is CourseHub. It is a video creation, management and delivery product for education. It is used by educational institutes to deliver live classes online and also to make their lectures available to the students for the purpose of revising and reviewing after the class.
As such it may seem trivial, and for the different kinds of tasks that we do, there are alternatives available in the form of VSAT-based solutions, video and web conferencing, or some dedicated lecture capture solutions. But CourseHub triumphs over them by being a complete product for the requirements of educators and learners and by being optimized for them. The USP of the products are
- HD-quality video delivery at speeds as low as 100 Kbps (unlike any other alternative in the market)
- A complete solution for education with live and on-demand delivery of classes, as well as content and learning management systems (as opposed to generic video streaming, video conferencing and web-conferencing providers)
- Cloud-based, automated, non-intrusive and deployable at a fraction of cost of the existing lecture capture, video-conferencing and VSAT solutions
What motivated the idea of Aurus Network?
Piyush Agrawal, our founder, had used a lecture capture solution while he was doing his Masters at Stanford University. He and other students found the system to be extremely valuable. But the implementation at Stanford was high of cost and resources. Although many other institutes could benefit from a solution like this, most of them won’t have that kind of resources. His thesis was also related to video processing. Recognizing the market needs and seeing a technical fit with his interests, he decided to come back to India and start Aurus Network with a vision of making quality education accessible to all.
What differentiates Aurus Network from the other online/distance education portals?
We are not an education portal in the sense that we are not selling content. We believe that good teachers and educators are the best people to decide how and what to teach. We enable them to reach out to more students and to capture the valuable content they create while teaching a class and use it in various ways later. In serving this need, we have created a product that is complete, works out of the box, doesn’t need the teacher to change his natural style of teaching and delivers classes in high quality even at a bandwidth as low as 100 Kbps.
How is the response from the customers? Is the Indian market open for this new type of education?
We have about 30 customers and the number is increasing continuously. For test preparation and training institutes, this is the right technology to help them scale their business without establishing physical presence and hiring new faculty in every city they want to cater to. Instead of a teacher going to three to four centers within the city to take the same class repeatedly, they can deliver classes to hundreds of centers or students all over the country without the teacher having to travel anywhere and that too at one go. The sophisticated interaction features lets the students and teachers interact with each other to get full advantage of the teaching session.
We have customers like Career Point, Career Launcher, Academy of Commerce and Crack Verbal using us to deliver these classes. Corporate training segment is also picking up and the system has been used by people like Kemin India and TalentEdge for this purpose.
Apart from the test preparation and training, we are now also getting an encouraging response from higher education institutes. We have institutes like IIT Kanpur and IIT Patna onboard and many others in the pipeline.
Overall, it is clear that the market needs a solution like this, the response has been more than encouraging and we are very excited about the future.
What challenges have you faced in your entrepreneurial journey? What has been the toughest decision you have had to make lately, if any?
The company was bootstrapped for the first two years. It was good in a way, because not having external money makes you look hard into your business model and ensures that you focus on a sustainable, profitable business. Despite a glaring need for a product like this, selling technology is not easy in the market. Customer education has been another big challenge. But we also see this as an opportunity to do things right.
What are your plans for promoting Aurus Network? Also, do you have any tie-ups?
Currently we are doing most of our business development directly, because we have figured that a lot of what we are trying to do is concept selling. Finding and training partners for that kind of involved selling is difficult, especially for a startup. But we are open to partnership opportunities and might scout for them more actively in future.
How do you see Aurus Network as in the next 5 years?
We are looking to become leading players for delivering online classes and deploying lecture capture, not just in the Indian market, but in international markets too.
What more do you wish to include to take Aurus Network to the next level?
We wish to include more team members and some more money.
What are you most excited about at this moment regarding Aurus Network?
What is exciting for us is that the customers are ahead of us! Once they get into the platform, they find creative usage and request new features all the time. We don’t have to push anything on them. The large market potential and high engagement of the customers with the product is gratifying and exciting.
So it seems like the days of drab black and white ‘teaching-learning’ sessions are nearly over. So on a day will come when education would be more than just rote-learning and instead it would become more and more interactive, interesting and every bit worth acquiring ( the easier way)!
Education has no end, so to all those who think – ‘Lord! Why didn’t this happen when I was studying and slogging so much with my stuff’; do not lose heart, life is too short and yet we all have a long way to go! Tread on!