Founded in late 2019, The WorldGrad is a study abroad edtech platform that provides ease of access to Indian students to pursue global education. This ease of access comes in many forms, right from the option to complete a part of their first year of the course through online mode before moving to the overseas campus to preparing students for overseas academic success, to saving huge amounts of money almost in the ballpark of 10-15 Lakhs. The WorldGrad is streamlining the unorganized study abroad segment.
Started by Amit Garga, Abhinav Mital, and Pranav Saxena, the founding team of The WorldGrad has over 30 years of combined experience in the education sector. They met while working at the prestigious strategy consulting firm EY-Parthenon where Amit and Abhinav were founding team members and Partners of their Education consulting practice. In 2017, the trio started LINC Education that provides technology-enabled teaching services to personalize learning and improve student retention. They have successfully scaled LINC which currently supports 10,000 online enrolments each year across multiple partner universities in Australia.
Abhinav Mital, Co-founder and Managing Director, The WorldGrad
Abhinav is passionate about the confluence of technology and services in education and strongly believes that both are vital in delivering results. He is furthering that passion at The WorldGrad and LINC Education by pushing the online learning agenda. Abhinav comes with nearly 15 years of experience in the education sector and was a founding member and former Partner of Parthenon-EY’s international education practice. Previously, he has worked with various global higher education institutions on growth strategy, international expansion, and improving student experience as well as advised PE investors, publishers, education organizations, and edu-tech ventures. Presently, Abhinav serves on the operations advisory board of The Education Fund, Australia. Before this, Abhinav set up a textile business through a combination of a greenfield production facility and downstream acquisitions
Abhinav is an avid squash player and loves to do road trips across the country. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT Delhi) and an MBA from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.
Pranav Saxena, Co-founder and Operations Director, The WorldGrad
Pranav currently heads operations at The WorldGrad. Pranav had developed a passion for the education sector while working with Parthenon-EY as a management consultant, where he completed a number of strategies, operations, and diligence assignments in the education sector. Before joining LINC Education, Pranav spent two years with Guild Capital, an early-stage VC fund based out of Chicago and Mumbai. Being the second member in India, he helped Guild set up their operations here, splitting his time between operating Guild portfolios and deal execution. As part of portfolio operations, Pranav worked with many high-growth startups both as an operator and an outsourcing partner, setting up teams and processes to transfer and scale operations such as content generation, data science & analytics, data warehousing, etc.
Spare time for Pranav usually means a long run, along with physically pushing his body along new avenues like gymnastics, MMA, or equestrian sports.
Pranav holds a Bachelor’s degree in Technology, from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
Amit Garga Co-founder and Managing Director, The WorldGrad
Amit has spent nearly 15 years in the education industry working with senior management teams of leading global education providers and with the largest PE and VC investors in education. Prior to The WorldGrad and LINC Education, he was Partner and Managing Director at Parthenon-EY, the world’s largest management consulting firm for the education sector. He has seen the industry evolve rapidly over the last ten years and is keen to make a difference in how education is delivered and received. LINC follows his commitment to bring fundamental changes in this vital sector of the global economy. Amit is an engineer from the University of Mumbai and an MBA from IIM Bangalore. He has over 16 years of work experience spanning multiple organizations including A.T. Kearney and Parthenon.
The founding team derives their motivation from student success. It is the only yardstick The WorldGrad uses to measure itself by and that is what keeps them going. They obsess about student feedback, completion, and progression, and that philosophy is embedded in all their teachers and staff.
The founding members were in the education space for the past 15 years and saw simultaneous growth in online education and the international student movement. However, no one has married the two to solve some obvious pain points for students – cost and success. In the large mid-tier overseas university segment, it is very common to see 1 out of 3 Indian / international students fail in at least one subject in their first term. This is often attributed to getting to know a new education system and unfamiliar living situations. Failure leads to both financial and mental stress for students and families. They thought why don’t they use technology to create a bridge for students seeking international education and make this transition smooth while helping them save money.
The early phase
The WorldGrad was launched right around the time of the Corona and the lockdown in India. The concept itself helps address many issues that would crop up due to Corona in the study abroad segment. For example, every academic vertical had to shift online, this cast a shadow on the future of college admissions and the safety of the students; and gave rise to the concerns of the parents. The focus of The WorldGrad around this time was to build as much awareness amidst students about the alternatives they have. The WorldGrad worked on three major things –
- Focusing on University/College partnerships
- Creating awareness for Indian Students
- Improvising the platform to make it more tech-driven
The WorldGrad has infused around $1M so far from the parent firm LINC Education. This initial funding will help them to stabilize the product offering, and once some traction is hit, they will start looking out for fresh investment.
Journey so far
Talking about the journey so far, Pranav Saxena, Co-founder and Operations Director, The WorldGrad says, “These are early days for The WorldGrad but the response has been amazing. Based on the increasing number of inquiries that we receive each day from students and parents, it can be said confidently that there is a lot of curiosity and positive feedback. The company has been hiring non-stop over the last few months and has spread our operations from Australia to the UK and the United States.”
Team Strength and Management during COVID-19 pandemic
The WorldGrad has grown to more than 30 people in a very short period of time including members sitting in overseas markets. All of this has been during COVID-19, but as an online business, they are pretty well geared to not only deliver online education but operate successfully remotely as a business. All their systems are location agnostic since day 1 and that has helped them navigate this period comfortably.
Competition & USP
The WorldGrad is the first mover in the study abroad segment and a few new players have started following the suit. Some of the big online platforms in India are trying to launch similar concepts by using content from local universities and trying to get that accepted for overseas transfers. The WorldGrad’s main advantage remains that their content is developed in collaboration with overseas institutions and delivered by international faculty thereby giving the student the same academic experience as they would have received in other countries. That combined with their personalized teaching support and 1-1 tutor program and high quality of overseas partnerships are the USPs they go by.
Market Growth & Response in the EdTech sector in the post-Covid-19 world
EdTech is booming in the region across all segments of education be it schools, higher education, or continuing education. Covid has given the sector a shot in the arm and while it is not going to make traditional classroom learning obsolete, it has made students, parents, and educators reevaluate how the virtual and physical modes can be merged for better learning. Having said that, in some segments of edtech which have benefitted simply because students are no longer in classrooms, this boom will be temporary and the moment students return to the classroom, usage will begin to fall. Others who manage to integrate with physical delivery will continue to enjoy growth. A third segment that is completely independent of the physical environment will grow faster as acceptance of online learning has leapfrogged.
As per the Grandview research on Education Technology market size, the global edtech was valued at USD 76.4 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.1% from 2020 to 2021. While APAC is forecasted to see a CAGR of 20.8% in this period, which is the fastest in all regions. This of course comes from the fact that countries like India are experiencing their own mini tech and internet revolution in the education space. This is also backed by education spearheaders who are investing heavily in the tech and education space. The business opportunities in the current scenario for APAC are simply “looking in the right direction”.
Challenges being faced by entrepreneurs
On being asked about one of the major challenges that entrepreneurs face in India, Pranav Saxena, Co-founder and Operations Director, The WorldGrad says, “In the early stages, the focus of the majority of the businesses is to invest in resources that drive growth. A business could be more efficient in doing that if there was greater ease of doing business, less administrative burden, and greater transparency in regulatory dealings.”
Government’s role in supporting startups
There are many initiatives run by the government or via industry bodies that are encouraging the startup ecosystem and when you look back over the last decade, we have definitely come a long way. There is always a potential for improvement by studying models followed in other countries like Singapore which have successfully created a nurturing ecosystem for start-ups despite the high cost of operation. Nonetheless, the government’s various initiatives to engage with the start-up community and bring it to the forefront as a mainstream career option for young professionals are commendable.
Shedding more light about the company’s future plans, Amit Garga Co-founder and Managing Director, The WorldGrad says, “As the leading provider of overseas education in India by creating online pathways for students to desirable institutions around the world. The WorldGrad’s goal is to become synonymous with overseas online education and high quality of online learning.”
Awards and achievements
The WorldGrad has entered into partnerships with 10 global institutions within a short span of time giving students access to 100+ UG and PG qualifications. Considering that these are the top 1% of institutions in the world, we see this as a significant achievement for an early stage platform. The parent company LINC Education has won the LearnX 2020 award for its personalized approach to online learning.
Messages for budding entrepreneurs/young generation
The founding team shares that the entrepreneurial journey is a tough one and perhaps the riskiest choice of career. Most of us do not succeed and end up with little to “show” for the time invested. But irrespective of the outcome, the experience of an entrepreneur is unmatched in every way possible because you are tackling a variety of problems at the same time and are accountable for the actions of your team. Conventional jobs can never offer this and whether your company succeeds or not, as an individual you would have excelled.
Concluding the message, Abhinav Mital, Co-founder and Managing Director, The WorldGrad says, “If there is an idea or opportunity that you are passionate about then pursue it with full commitment and go all in. You will emerge as a winner even if your idea doesn’t.”
Hope this success story would motivate all the aspiring entrepreneurs. It is a part of our startup profiling feature story/interview series. We are on a mission to bring forward the inspirational journey of successful entrepreneurs in order to spread some motivation during these tough times.
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