Experifun: Tackling India’s infrastructure gap with next-gen low-tech tools
There’s a well shared sense of urgency amongst the edtech businesses we stumbled upon in Bangalore. They are addressing very local challenges at scale, from disrupting the tutoring business like the 1-to-1 tutoring platform Vedantu, to improving the quality of public education; Megshala is training government school teachers through provided tablets that can work without connectivity. The English learning gap is a huge problem in rural areas and a few companies are tackling the challenge while being mindful of infrastructural difficulties, such as Vahan, which relies on missed calls and basic phones for its service. Tackling the skills gap in higher ed is also a priority — TeachEdison aims to create new skills through video classes and specialised mentoring — when many companies like Infosys allegedly have to train their new employees upon recruitment despite their degree.
How do you create opportunities? That’s one of the questions that drove Rakesh Kumar to create Experifun back in 2013 with his former classmate Vivek Pandey. Having studied in a government school and suffered from its main drawbacks — teacher absenteeism, lack of accountability, unreliable infrastructure — the engineer nonetheless managed to work his way up to an IIT and has a strong vision for the future of education in India. Unsatisfied with the way technology in the classroom was dealt with (dusty computer labs of which most teachers remained wary), the classmates created Experifun to provide low-cost, interactive science learning products and associated training workshops to teachers.
The company, a recent Pearson Affordable Learning Fund investment, strives to enable radically different ways of learning science in classroom through products that enable teachers to demonstrate concepts through interaction with the everyday objects around them. Experifun currently works with 250 schools in 11 Indian states, as well as several institutions in the Philippines, Nigeria and China that are adopting their tools for their own classroom. Beyond their B2B business (selling to schools), the 16-person team has just launched their consumer-facing product, now listed on Flipkart, the successful Bangalore e-commerce company.
“The ideal Edtech product is the one that seamlessly fits in the classroom without disturbing the day to day. We want to make sure we don’t complicate anything at all for teachers: it has to fit into the school set-up without disrupting the way they are working. It must be easy and low-cost for them to adopt, while at the same time bringing scalable value.”
Experifun science kits allow students to engage in science experiments without the traditional science lab infrastructure. The extremely positive teacher feedback has a lot to do with the fact that Experifun products get rid of the confusion and fear experienced by many teachers when having to adopt new tools. The biggest challenge for schools remains infrastructure, so low-tech products are a faster way to bridge the gap: the founders wanted a product that would fit anywhere, would have a long device durability and a guaranteed safety.
“We are trying to propagate this philosophy where children should be entitled to ask very simple, numerous questions and not be limited to a given number of items taught on the board”
With its “curriculum-based next-generation science exploratory gadgets”, Experifun wants to enhance the quality of peer-to-peer learning and bring paradigm shift in the way science learning happens. They believe that it’s only by fostering curiosity that we can move away from standardized to personalised learning and get rid of an outdated content delivery mindset. India has 400 million children under 18 and a wide number of challenges to tackle. We wish to see more entrepreneurs embracing this mindset and trying to get rid of the numerous barriers that prevent first generations learners from getting quality education.