‘Women Founders Definitely Face Higher Perception Barriers Than Usual!’
While Nasscom has revealed that only a small percentage of women represent the entrepreneurial sector, there are women like Avneet Makkar, founder of edtech startup, CarveNiche that are challenging the stereotypes!
There has been a huge gap with respect to the participation of women in the entrepreneurial space. However, that gap has to be bridged and women are working towards it already. In an elaborate conversation with Gairika Mitra, Edtech startup’s founder Avneet Makkar shares her entrepreneurial journey.
Edtech in India has unleashed its potential and the market is expected to reach around $1.96 billion by 2021. What’s your take on the same?
Edtech is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. With the rise in edtech, we can expect advance equitable, high-quality education for all learners regardless of their economic and social background. With the rapid advancement in technology, the personalization of education is also becoming simpler day by day. Technology such as AI & Machine Learning can help personalize learning plans for each child and answer the “whys” behind a particular concept, which is not possible in a traditional classroom model.
How do you use Machine Learning and Advanced Data Analytics at CarveNiche that that helps in easy understanding of students?
CarveNiche’s flagship product is ‘beGalileo’ – which is a unique technology-based Math learning program. The beGalileo software is scientifically designed on the philosophies of Machine Learning and Advanced Data Analytics. Once the child enrolls in the beGalileo program, he/she first goes through a unique Machine Learning based Math assessment test called MIDAS. The inbuilt intelligence of the system uses the results of MIDAS to build a profile for each student based on their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and knowledge level. This profile is used to customize the learning material delivered for each child.
Being a womanpreneur is both amazing and exciting. What has your journey been like so far?
My journey has been enterprising and challenging at the same time. The number of women founded tech startups is gradually increasing but still, form a very small percentage of the overall ecosystem. Women founders definitely face higher perception barriers than usual, often not in sync with data points, in raising capital. But as the number of women-led startups is increasing, we can feel that the situation is changing. My journey has been a fulfilling one, as our product beGalileo, got an overwhelming response from the parent and student community. We had started with 1 center in Bangalore in Nov 2016 and within a period of 3 years, we currently have 900+ centers in India. Majority of our centers are in Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai & Pune. We have also started centers in tier 2 cities pan India.
How do you advice your fellow women peers to overcome challenges and take the plunge into the ocean of entrepreneurship?
I often see women undermining their own abilities and leaving their goals and dreams to take care of their family commitments. And often most of them have a strong desire that their daughters study well, and make an excellent career for themselves. But as mothers, if we are not going the extra mile to achieve our potential in life, we are definitely not setting the right example for our daughters. We need to lead by example and should take up every opportunity that comes in our way to fulfill our dreams.
Now-a-days, with the rapid adoption of technology over the last 3-4 years, we have seen a surge in gig economy & an increase in entrepreneurship opportunities. Customers have become more evolved and with everything going digital and increase in purchasing power, customers are willing to pay for products and services. In fact, these flexible opportunities have also resulted in women from smaller cities and towns becoming entrepreneurs.
What are the immediate and long term milestones for CarveNiche like?
Innovation is our key and we are in the constant lookout to bring technological advancement in our product in every way possible. That is our immediate milestone.
Business-wise, we are growing and have launched a center in Dallas, US. In the near future, we plan to grow and launch a new center in London. Apart from that, to augment the existing beGalileo centers, we have launched new services such as Math Box & beGalileo Online Academy. Customers who are unable to travel to the center, can order a Math Box at their doorstep, this will give them access to the beGalileo software & all the interesting Math games.
Lastly, how do you think technology is going to dominate or disrupt the days ahead?
The technology landscape has evolved rapidly over the years. The quickly changing technology landscape in India raises several questions for business leaders as to how can they help their businesses grow. Advancing technologies and their rapid adoption are disrupting traditional business models. Business leaders need to think strategically about how to prepare their organisations for the new challenging environment.
In the education space, technology such as AI & Machine Learning is being effectively used to enhance the quality of education. With the help of technology, personal attention can be given to each child which is not possible in a traditional classroom model. It can help identify what difficulties a student is facing while learning a subject and can provide personalised recommendations accordingly. With technology, it is also possible to automate time-consuming tasks such as grading papers. In the education field, technology can never replace teachers, it can only be used as a powerful tool to empower teachers.
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