Toppr is one of India’s most popular and trusted ed-tech companies. It is a Mumbai-based after-school learning app, which provides personalized education for students of standard 5th to 12th. Additionally, it provides effectively customized learning solutions for students who are studying for their board exams, olympiads, and a myriad of other engineering and medical competitive exams like IITJEE and NEET.
Nowadays, Edtech startups or educational technology is one of the most prevalent startup industries in India. It is one of the basic requirements of Indian society too. With the presence of a magnanimous and determined audience base, the burgeoning interest of investors and rising paid subscriptions by the students, the quality of education is going up and thus allowing the surge in the cutthroat competition, Edtech is one of the most prominent sectors in India. Amidst this rapidly changing and consistently growing sector, Indian ed-tech company Toppr has managed to make a place for itself and stay pertinent since 2013.
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Toppr’s Founding Story
Toppr was founded by Zishaan Hayath and his friend Hemanth Goteti in 2013. The journey of Toppr getting initiated has a very fascinating story to behold. In April 2008 ‘Chaupaati Bazaar’, a phone-commerce marketplace was co-founded by Zishaan. In the year 2010, the company went on to be acquired by Futurebazaar.com, which is Future Group’s very popular digital commerce arm. Being a platform that provides opportunities for shopping electronics, household, and products for children, among others, Zishaan’s company proved to be very useful to the firm taking and acquiring it. At this stage of life, Zishaan epiphany and coined the concept of Toppr.com. The idea was backed by observing the daily and dire need of the Indian education system and the poor state of students’ future. The unfortunate fact that students in India spend huge sums of money on coaching classes that have no personal interaction whatsoever.
Zishaan says, “The need was widely realised for a live doubt-clearing platform session for students, with 24×7 availability. The students learn best at the time of their choice, which is either late night or early morning. The problem is, at this time, students don’t have anyone to ask from or anyone they can turn to for solutions. We also realized that most students are hesitant to ask doubts in class for fear of being judged and because of peer pressure.”
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It was the realization of this dire need gap that made him, alongside his IIT Bombay pal, Hemanth Goteti, come up with the idea for Toppr Doubts. The vision was to develop a live app where the students could instantly get their doubts cleared even at 3 in the morning by the experts.
“We knew that crowded classrooms and sub-par coaching classes use a one-size-fits-all approach. Following thorough research, Toppr was brought into existence in 2013,” notes Zishaan. The ed-tech company’s co-founder further adds, “There are about 350 million school-aged children in India. When built for them, one knows that the company is building and working for five per cent of the world’s population. It’s our privilege and honour to be able to do this kind of work. And, our opportunity makes us deeply aware of our responsibility —to shift the human capital of India.”
The journey of Toppr over the years
The company was registered under the name of Toppr Technologies Private Limited on 2nd April 2013. It was developed by the education platform developer company Haygot Education Pvt Ltd. Toppr successfully managed to raise a hefty amount of 10 Million US Dollars in the second round of funding from Fidelity Ventures, SAIF Partners, and Helion Venture Partners in May 2015. The very same year, in October, Toppr procured $2 Million from InnoVen Capital in debt funding. That year, the ed-tech startup also won the ‘Top 10 Hottest Startups’ award by CB Insights. Two years later, in 2017, from IAMAI India Digital Awards and AWS Mobility Award, Toppr won both the ‘Best education website’ and ‘Best emerging company in education’ award respectively.
Three years later in 2018, from Kaizen Private Equity, Toppr successfully raised an enormous amount of $35 Million Series C funding making it one of the heaviest names in the industry. That year, Toppr also won the prestigious award for ‘Best education platform’ by Indian Education Awards.
In 2019, Toppr was the finalist of the EdtechXGlobal Awards. In 2020, Toppr won the award for the Best tech for education by IAMAI India Digital Awards. In July 2020, Toppr bagged enormous funding of Rs 350 crores ($46.8 Million).
Recently, there have also been talks of Toppr being acquired by another mammoth of the top 10 ed-tech companies in India, Byju’s for 150 Million US Dollars.
Improvements over the year
As the tagline of Toppr suggests, Better Learning. Better Results and also One platform for all your learning needs perfectly fits the situation and offerings. In the education companies in India, Toppr is a name enshrined beside the brightest stars of a startup in education, namely, BYJU’S, Vedantu, and Unacademy. Similar to these ed-tech startups, Toppr also runs on a freemium model with 150,000 Premium Users. The company provides its services in a plethora of ways. For around 22 boards of India, 17 different subjects, and 58 different kinds of exams, Toppr has plans like toppr JEE, toppr NEET, and toppr STAR, in extension to the services like toppr school for classes KG-12, toppr answer for classes 5-12, toppr codr introduced in July 2020 for kids to learn Coding, and toppr learning app for classes 5-12.
Toppr app is available on different platforms like Mobiles (both iOS and Android), Tablets (both Android and iPad), and on all browsers on Desktops.
Toppr’s features have a wide range from video classes, to All India Test Series, to student stories, to providing question banks, creating one’s test, to 24/7 help from Expert Tutors.
All these features do make Toppr one of the most famous ed-tech companies.
The Significance of Toppr and what makes it different
Rahul Chowdhry, Director of Helion Advisors, the company that funded around 12 crore rupees in Toppr in 2014, said that “The current brick and mortar model in test prep space is hard to scale and to deliver consistent quality.” It was said when Toppr, as an ed-tech startup, was just fathoming ground in the rapidly growing realm of K12 ed-tech companies in India. During this time, the traditional model of coaching classes was still very much prevalent. The conventional biases towards the stronger students created a sense of insecurity among those who were too shy to address their doubts in fear of being mocked for their ignorance. Toppr caught hold of this hindrance and thus played a significant role in addressing the issue by democratizing the test preparation industry with the aid of online tools like mobile applications-based personalized learning solutions. Toppr has a hybrid manner of utilizing the experts and student communities, thus, making its testing solutions very relevant for the seekers.
The best summary of how significant Toppr has been can be the following review of a user: “It was like having my professors in my pocket, I loved that I could revisit video lectures anytime.” Further adding to the significance of Toppr among the ed-tech firms in India, Zishaan Hayath says, “To become a true alternative to a physical coaching class, we need to demonstrate engagement, and currently the engagement is 110 minutes, per user per day which is above the industry average.”
The Goal of Toppr
Alongside the revenues of the ed-tech companies, the usage of mobile applications has encountered a growth as well, from 5 lakhs in 2014 to 40 lakhs at the end of 2018. Consequently, paid subscriptions are rising too, as e-learning spreads across India. Toppr claims that its paid users have doubled 2018-2019 and it expects a 3x growth until 2020, riding on both new user acquisitions as well as upgrades from the existing subscriber base.
Interestingly, with users placing greater trust in ed-tech companies for school, paid subscriptions have seen a surge. A report from the Google-KPMG study (Online Education in India, 2021) made an estimation that paid subscriptions for best ed-tech startups will reach 9.6 million by the end of this year, a humongous growth of 6 times since the numbers in 2016. On top of that, the overall sector is to incur a growth of 8 times since 2016.
In non-urban India, the opportunities that higher ed-tech companies offer are high in demand considering the limited access to coaching in these areas. Zishaan says, “So far, we have done a great job on the product side and grown without spending much. The next phase is the distribution of this product,” He adds of his apprehension about the global ed-tech sector by saying, “But, we are focused entirely on India, and not keen on going international.” Zishan is of the view that “Users in Tier II and Tier III cities do not have easy access to quality coaching. We see higher traction from Baroda than Ahmedabad, from Nagpur than Chennai. We believe that any household that makes more than Rs 6 lakh per annum is likely to get a paid learning app.”
Zishan expresses his faith in the upcoming growth of ed-tech companies by asseverating that, “Our initial challenge was the inertia in people and physical coaching classes. While the latter continues to remain a challenge, inertia in the younger population is less. They are keener to experiment, test learning apps, and try out new packages.”
The hopeful sentiment of the Toppr founders can be felt from the following quote of Zishan Hayath, “Education has finally started to attract the capital it deserves. And, investors are committed to what we are doing. Things are changing on the ground…We are now able to build high-quality products with an impact on the student capital of India.”
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