How OneHourLearning shrinks study courses

10 Dec, 2015

one_hour_bigAnyone who hasn't been in a classroom for more than a decade knows how difficult it is to sit through a single lecture, let alone take up a course that stretches to a few weeks.

A four-month-old startup called OneHourLearning has found a way out. It shrinks all the study material into concise one-hour courses that are divided into several 3-5 minute capsule sessions.

OneHourLearning.com, run by Bensar Learning Pvt Ltd, offers courses that can be taken up by anyone between 18 years and 60 years. These courses range from analytics, entrepreneurship and management, to operations, finance, marketing, and beyond.

The startup was founded by Sujith Maroli, an ISB, Hyderabad and MIT, Manipal alumnus and Nishant Kumar, an IIT Kharagpur and IIM Lucknow alumnus. This is Maroli's second startup in the edu-tech space. Prior to OneHourLearning, he founded Triford Learning, which offers corporate training, executive coaching and competency assessment tests. The founders have already pumped in Rs 10 lakh of their personal funds in the startup.

"In these days of smartphones, the attention span has reduced. People find it difficult to sit through a five-hour three-day course. E-learning is limited to the laptop. The reach of such courses is therefore drastically reduced. People working in customer-interface roles such as sales and customer care find it difficult to shackle themselves to the laptop," says Sujith Maroli, co-founder, OneHourLearning.

The courses are designed on the premise that the human mind can focus on a subject for one hour at the most. Each topic is reduced to its simplest form for easy understanding, minus any textbook-like frills. In the two months that the service has been operational, OneHourLearning has acquired 1000 customers, and is aiming to acquire 5000 more in the next two months.

It charges Rs 200 per course, and also has a Rs 2999 package for unlimited number of courses. "Our courses are created by hand-picked subject matter experts (SMEs) and follow the engaging delivery method," said Maroli. At present, there are about 50 SMEs.

OneHourLearning offers plans for both corporate customers as well as individual users. The app for the same is slated to be launched in January next year, which will also open it to B2C customers. As of now, it has 10 subject specialisations with 5-6 courses under each of them. Next year, the company plans to add another 1200 courses, adding to its existing portfolio of more than 40 courses across 10 categories. The courses are currently available only in India, but the company is planning to expand operations to South East Asia, Middle East and Africa.

However, OneHourLearning is trying to break into a market that is already dominated by established players such as Udemy, Simplilearn, Udacity, Skillsoft, EdX, Coursera, and Lynda. "While the need for such videos and courses is acute, the customer's willingness to pay is low. This is because there are several online destinations that offer similar courses free of charge," says angel investor Ajeet Khurana. Most of the existing players get donations or earn advertising revenue.

Another hurdle that OneHourLearning faces is the acceptance of its courses amongst the business community. So creating a profitable business model is very difficult in this space. "There are only two situations where the customers would be willing to pay ‑ there is some level of industry recognition to the value of these courses or some large software services companies make it mandatory to undergo these courses," says Khurana. Khurana is the former CEO of IIT-Bombay's SINE, and is currently an active angel investor.

However, the founders believe that their product's USP is that it can be taught in one hour at an affordable price, that too, on a mobile platform. While the one-hour courses claim to be accessible and easy to assimilate, the jury is still out on how effective they are.