First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Santosh Bojarajan: We are doing well, Kossi. Thank you for asking! It’s been quite a journey since the initial lockdown, but we’ve been looking after each other. It’s a long way ahead, and hopefully, we will pass these unprecedented times soon.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Tyootr.
Santosh Bojarajan: I started my career in the education sector, and it’s been over a decade now. I spent around three years working at my previous company, not realizing that the founder was transforming an entire team as entrepreneurs. The learning curve was steep, which helped us understand the most pressing problem in the industry and come up with solutions which made a difference. The final piece in the jigsaw was from the CEO of a competitor. I was invited for an interview, and the competitor was curious to know the fine prints of the projects we were working on, rather than evaluating my skills and value that I can add to their organization. His words – “Talk like an employee and not a CEO” had me convinced to start Tyootr.
We realized that online education has a huge potential, and there are many problems unresolved in this sector. Relix, Co-founder and I were convinced that Tyootr could be the answer for a few problems in the education industry in 2016 as we set out to democratize the online education business. We built a unified platform for any educator to start, manage and scale their own online education business.
How does Tyootr innovate?
Santosh Bojarajan: We listen to our customers, that’s where our innovation begins. I strongly believe that innovation comes from accountability. We have an excellent team, and we run our own internal incubation program to get these greatest minds to act. Each one of us takes the responsibility of a founder during these frequent deep-dive sessions with an objective to create products or solutions which can disrupt how traditional education is consumed. The lifecycle of Tyootr products involves a lot of research, identifying the problems, market, opportunities, creating solutions for which users are willing to pay, continuous learning and improvement.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Santosh Bojarajan: We had a few members joining our team during this period, bringing them to scale took a bit longer than usual. The role of the HR was crucial to keep the team engaged, motivated and have fun remotely. From an internal perspective, working remotely was initially a challenge, but we adapted to that pretty fast. On the upside, we saw an increase in the number of users adapting to online learning as the overall acceptance for remote learning is higher.
On the downside, the stigma around COVID and the uncertainty have impacted a marginal downfall in revenues for our customers. Financial insecurities and uncertainty around jobs are frequent reasons for the end user not willing to spend on continuing education. We are providing financial aid and extending the line of credit to our customers to cope with the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Santosh Bojarajan: The product and business evolve over the time, which requires pivots, change in technology or adapting to a new one. These changes will impact certain dynamics and resources which need to be re-aligned. I see this as business as usual, and there’s always something to learn when we make difficult choices, but these choices are inevitable.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Tyootr in the future?
Santosh Bojarajan: Fortunately, work keeps us occupied. I would be more stressed if there wasn’t much to do. Adapting to a healthy lifestyle and constantly keeping in touch with friends and family reduces stress and anxiety, they add a lot of flavour and humour to your life.
We see Tyootr at the heart of the education industry, as a de-facto operating system to start, manage and scale online education business. We are continuously working on adding more tools and resources to provide a unified experience to our customers and most importantly add a lot of value. To achieve this, we want the entire workforce on the same page, and hence there’s a lot of visibility internally so that everyone has a clear understanding of where we are headed.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Santosh Bojarajan: Tyootr exists because we see ourselves offering an experience better than our competitors in this industry. Companies like Blackboard, Canvas and the open-source Moodle have been in this industry for long, but the solutions are not tailored for businesses of any size. There’s a considerable amount of investment involved in content development and IT infrastructure before you clock in the first sale, and these requirements and resources are often considered to be high risk on investments. As a result, many educators end up teaching on Youtube, MOOC’s such as Udemy etc., where over 95% of the courses have a minimum or no traction. So, clearly, there’s no scope of a livelihood created for most educators by just teaching online in the current scenario.
Both our products have everything integrated into one single platform which declutters the chaos using multiple fragmented tools, at the same time increases productivity, saves costs, better margins, profits and most importantly a great learning experience for their students.
Your final thoughts?
Santosh Bojarajan: Online education industry is witnessing growth like a hockey stick curve. We are currently experiencing the greatest acceptance and adaptability towards online education of our lifetime. The transformation from a traditional classroom to a digital learning space is inevitable, and educators need the right set of tools and resources to set up their own digital learning company. With Tyootr, educators don’t just teach online but expand their reach globally and sell courses to potential learners using multiple sales channels. In simple words, educators can run a global online education business right from the comfort of their home.