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We’re the mini-Netflix of edtech, creating short courses instead of TV shows and films: Shreyasi Singh, Founder & CEO, Harappa Education

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Now while a Coursera does offer courses on, let’s say, critical thinking, but then it also has courses on data science and MBA and so on.

While almost all (99%) women professionals believe it is important for them to build networks, only 47% actively pursue opportunities for professional growth. What’s more, a staggering 90% of them hesitate to ask for a raise at work, and 85% feel that at least once in their career they have been perceived as ‘bossy’ or ‘dominating’, when they were just being assertive. These are the findings from the survey ‘What Women in Leadership Need’ by Harappa Education, the online educational institution founded by Pramath Raj Sinha and Shreyasi Singh, released on May 1, the International Labour Day.

“As we commemorate the labour movement that ushered in various reforms, it’s also crucial to look at the gaps in our workplaces from a gender lens,” says Singh, co-founder & CEO. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, she also talks about Harappa Education’s growth plans, and why the platform singularly focuses on providing behavioural skills. Excerpts:

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Why does Harappa Education offer only soft skills, and not functional or technical skills, the so-called hard skills?
In common parlance, the skills we offer (which aim at building your thinking, solving, communicating, collaborating and leading abilities) may be referred to as soft skills, but these are actually hard skills, in that these are these are hard to teach, hard to learn and hard to find.

Are you the only major player that offers such skills?Other well-known platforms (such as Simplilearn, upGrad, Coursera for Business and Udacity) predominantly offer functional or technical skills. Now while a Coursera does offer courses on, let’s say, critical thinking, but then it also has courses on data science and MBA and so on. We have a singular focus on behavioural skills.

Do men and women perceive skills differently at the workplace?
Enough and more research has been done on the fact that men and women perceive their own strengths and their own place in the world of work quite differently. At the same time, women face a unique set of challenges which only they face—something which their male counterparts will most probably not face/not have faced.

Which is your biggest vertical?
We have three kinds of business lines. The first is the campus business, where we go to campuses (largely undergraduate engineering and postgraduate MBA) and offers courses for their students. The second is the enterprise business, where we go to companies such as Mahindra, Kotak, Infosys, etc, and offer courses for their employees. The third is our B2C arm, which we started last year, where we approach independent retail learners who come and buy courses on their own.

Which age profile do you cater to?
When we were building Harappa Education about three years ago, we were very focused on the 20-30 age group—those who have joined the workplace and want to learn soft skills to climb the career ladder. However, what we have seen is learners far older accessing our courses. For example, 70% of our B2C learners are over 30 years of age, and the oldest would be around 55 years. In the enterprise business, most learners are in the mid-30s to early 40s age group. Overall, we have learners aged 18 to 55.

What are your growth plans like?
We aim to have half a million paid learners by the end of financial year 2022-23; we are at around 55,000 right now, and by the end of FY22 our aim is 250,000 paid learners. So our growth plans are very ambitious.

While we don’t disclose our revenue, our projection for FY22-end is Rs 90-100 crore.

Also, the half a million paid learners goal isn’t cumulative, but half a million in FY23.

Who creates your courses?
A large part of our employee pool works essentially like a mini-Netflix, where they are constantly creating short courses, instead of TV shows. They come from across industries.

It’s argued that online courses have low completion rates. What are these at Harappa Education?At the campuses and enterprises, completion rates are very high—we have managed upwards of 83%. This number transcends industry benchmarks.

We had hoped that independent learners, who put in money from their own pocket for these courses, would have even higher completion rates, but until now that has not happened. Completion rates are not as impressive in B2C as they are in B2B.

Lastly, why is it called Harappa Education?
We wanted to have a name that was rooted in the cultural fabric of India. The ancient civilisation of Harappa called out to us. We want to pioneer a new frontier at the intersection of education, technology and impact—Harappa’s timeless excellence and foundational wisdom are virtues we strive towards. In fact, our logo is evocative of the iconic seals of the old Harappa, which represents the architectural and technological advancement of the period.

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