From a college project to launching SHArP Edge, a startup focusing on digital education
A final year project at BITS Pilani led a few students to understand the problems and challenges faced by a large number of engineering students studying in India of being taught by ill-prepared teachers using ineffective teaching methodologies.
A final year project at BITS Pilani led a few students to understand the problems and challenges faced by a large number of engineering students studying in India of being taught by ill-prepared teachers using ineffective teaching methodologies. This led the team to brainstorming and map out the technology based solutions available in the market for the engineering students even before they themselves had graduated.
Fast forward a few months the team started what is now called SHArP Edge, a multimedia based learning solution which helped engineering students with subjects and topics for which the pen-and-paper approach was turning out to be effective.
SHArP Edge initially began with creating content in-house catering to the universities and colleges only and offering their service via annual licenses. The response has been largely positive due to its content optimized for specific universities and early mover’s advantage.
After an institution gets onboard the team at SHArP Edge begins by installing a server with all of its content present in an encrypted manner and creating access accounts for individual teachers to help layout a lecture plan according to their teaching style.
It was then that they noticed a number of students approaching them for access to the content. In the earlier format, the licensees worked for the institutions only and students had no access to it post the class. So SHArP Edge began with loading all of its content on pendrives and began offering them to students for purchase for self paced learning. Currently they have content in place for the most popular engineering courses for years I & II.
SHArP Edge: Mentorship and Funding
From early on, BITS Pilani has been on board with the startups. The university has been aiding them with soft resources in the form of teacher expertise to help curate their content and optimize it according to the target universities’ curriculum.
The startup has a soft loan from the Department of Information Technology, Government of India to help grow organically and they were the winners of ET Power of Idea 2012.
SHArP Edge has partnered with a tablet manufacturer for an “engineering tab”, which would be a low cost device with their content bundled exclusively. The approach is similar to what is happening in K-12 right now, but due to the shared device nature of tablets it would make more sense for the cash strapped undergraduates.
Apart from that, the team is working in close association with a leading software giant to offer SHArP Edge content in the form of bundled education app for the Indian audiences.
The education sector has seen a lot of activity in the past year with a number of startups trying to fill the void of the low quality of education in India. SHArP Edge’s approach and solution definitely merits attention, what remains to be seen how long it stands in the face of the massive open online courses offering grade A content for free.