From teaching students in 10 minutes to growing the company at 10x speed, 10 Minute School has come a long way since its inception. What started as a vision of just two people is now shared by more than 250 employees and more than 200 educators who are helping more than three million students access quality education. However, the majority of its growth came in the last two years ever since the pandemic seized offline education opportunities. In January this year, the company received $2.0 million (Tk 17 crore) seed funding from Surge, a rapid scale-up programme for startups by Sequoia Capital India. So how is the 10 Minute School team planning to expand their helping hands even further to the students of Bangladesh?
Impact of the funding: While a $2.0 million investment might seem like a lot of money for a Bangladeshi startup, this is just the beginning for a technology-driven company like 10 Minute School. Speaking about the importance of getting such a big investor like Sequoia Capital, Avipsu Arko, the non-academic content lead at 10 Minute School, said, "Getting investment in such an early stage is not just about the money, it is about the experience and strategic guidance the investors bring to the table." Some of the greatest tech companies in the world like Apple, Instagram, Zoom, and PayPal were all funded by Sequoia Capital at some point.
Rise of EdTech in Bangladesh: "Selling Bangladesh to the foreign investors was our biggest hurdle while raising funds for 10 Minute School," said Ayman Sadiq, the CEO and founder of 10 Minute School. But yet they succeeded by a fair margin. Now not just 10 Minute School, but the whole EdTech industry of Bangladesh is rising and expanding at a rapid pace. Access to technology gave birth to many new startups that are working with a similar vision to that of 10 Minute School. Shikho, Thrive, Upskill, ROOTs Edu and many more EdTech startups are on their way to revolutionise the education system of our country. For years, quality education only meant going to the best schools and having the best teachers. But this luxury was only available to a small group of students living in cities like Dhaka or Chattogram. Asif (anonymous), a college student from a small village in Netrokona, said, "When I first moved to Mymensingh town for college, I realised how much we were lagging behind compared to our peers who lived in cities. I also could not afford coaching classes or private tutors like most of them did." Just like Asif, the vast majority of students rely on little to no external resources for learning. This is where EdTech platforms come in and ensures access to quality education for anyone anywhere.
Education, skill development and a lot more: 10 Minute School has been primarily focusing on creating content for school and college goers. But in recent times, the platform is expanding to new horizons. From soft skill development like communication and presentation to professional courses on corporate etiquette and negotiation, 10 Minute School offers a large variety of skill-development courses that are top priorities for university students and young professionals. "Recently we have launched specialised courses across multiple domains like learning Quran, personal fitness, kids programming, mental health for students and many more," mentioned Ayman. "With more than 40 premium courses and almost 20 free courses available already, we are investing heavily in the skill development vertical to offer a lot more to our users," he added.
What's next for 10 Minute School?: 10 Minute School is now heavily investing in technology and content with the aim to provide the best possible experience to their end user, the students. "Our users like us. And we are constantly working to enhance their experience on our platform. We want to provide them with an end-to-end lifelong learning solution," said Avipsu when asked about their goal. "In the last couple of years, there were many things that we couldn't do due to lack of funding. After the investment many of those dreams are becoming checklists that we plan to fill up soon," remarked Ayman.
Recently, 10 Minute School onboarded Mirza Salman Hossain Beg as its new COO who was previously the advisor and one of the directors of the company. Before joining 10 Minute School, Salman was the vice president, head of Innovation at Telenor Thailand. He brings 13 years of experience in creating digital products, innovation and accelerating startups. Like Salman, Ayman aspires to have the best talents and the brightest minds on their team. "The goal is to build an enduring company. We want 10 Minute School to be known for its people," remarked Ayman with high hopes.
Asif was just one of a thousand others who are struggling every day in our country for education. All they want is just access to quality education that is affordable. "Democratise the education system for anyone and every one" -- with this core philosophy, 10 Minute School wants to help people like Asif and be their learning partner. While this might seem like a distant dream in 2022, we don't know what the future holds. With the pace at which EdTech is growing both locally and globally, it is safe to say the students of the next generation will be equipped with the right resources whenever required.
The writer is a student at IBA, Dhaka University and an academic instructor at 10 Minute School.