For Kavita Mehta, education has been familiar territory since childhood. She grew up with a college professor for a mother while her grandfather was a high school principal. Edtech startup Caymus Technology Ventures was therefore somewhat of a natural progression for the Indian-American entrepreneur.
Caymus, though, wasn’t Mehta’s first entrepreneurial play in the edtech sector.
In 2011, about five years after she quit her seven-year job at Yahoo! and moved with her family from Sunnyvale, California, to Singapore, Mehta took the entrepreneurial plunge with a venture called The Red Pen. The venture was born out of her conviction that there was a huge gap in the market in terms of addressing the personalised needs of individuals looking for learning courses to upskill themselves.
“How do you make that educational decision which is uniquely personal from the 7 billion educational options out there? How do you know what’s best suited for one? That’s where my strength was and that’s what I aimed to deliver,” she said in a recent interview with TechCircle.
The Red Pen, which Mehta ran for seven years, helped students to scan through and apply to universities, at home and overseas, for MBAs and other advanced courses.
In 2018, she decided to build a platform that leveraged data to enable mid-career professionals and fresh graduates to choose the most appropriate learning courses to upskill themselves. This led to building the Thunderbird and Lore products under Caymus Technology Ventures, which was formally incorporated in September 2018.
Thunderbird is a patent-pending platform that helps career advisors and educational counsellors deliver informed and data-backed advice to students. Lore is an AI (artificial intelligence) based online tool that uses multiple data points to recommend most suitable online courses to students, curated from more than 1,000 course providers.
Lore further branches out two different offerings -- LoreOnline and LoreForTeam. While the former is a B2C service, aimed at individuals in the age group of 22 to 35 for skill enhancements, the latter is a B2B2C platform that helps organisations improve employee engagement by providing learning dashboards to employees where their progress can be tracked and effected.
The topics on Lore range from Python, PhP, digital marketing and machine learning to business management, entrepreneurship and others. The platform hosts content from course providers such as edX, Udemy, Coursera, Udacity and SimpliLearn etc.
Lore started with regular courses and eventually extended to six other genres including videos, podcasts, and executive classes, Mehta said.
Within a few months of operations, the startup claims to have garnered about 80,000-plus unique signups which, Mehta claims, is a 100% year-on-year growth. The platform came out of beta in September last year.
Mehta’s team of 11 full-timers and two contractors operates from Mumbai and is currently focused on improving the user interface. By the fall of 2020, the company expects to have 100 enterprise clients and one million unique users on its platforms. Mehta expects to tap into the $211 billion global market for online education and is optimistic about India’s share of that pie.
In terms of funding, the company raised $174,000 in an angel round of funding from a clutch of investors in India and Silicon Valley last year. Rob Solomon, chief executive officer of social fundraising platform GoFundMe, is among those who participated in that round. He is also on the advisory board of the company.
"Caymus is building an incredibly powerful learning platform to unleash the potential of millions around the world. India is the perfect market from which to launch this universally relevant platform," Solomon said.