With the rise of smartphone and internet accessibility, the global Ed-tech industry has been growing rapidly over the past decade. Globally, the growth of this sector is further accelerated due to the Corona epidemic. Globally, many of the Ed-tech platforms provide skill-based training, while in India, platforms such as BYJU’s and Unacademy are gaining popularity by offering traditional academic courses and coaching services. Students in Bangladesh, like in India, are highly reliant on coaching institutions for academic study. Ed-techs in Bangladesh have also been offering various courses targeting secondary and higher secondary students. ‘ROOTS Edu’ is one such Ed-tech platform, which through its dedicated app, website, and social media, offers a variety of courses for students’ academic education, as well as offering courses that range from university test preparation to job test preparation. The platform is working to ensure quality education for the country’s underprivileged students by offering a bunch of affordable courses.
The Journey of ROOTS
Tahir Hasan Riddha is the CEO and founder of Roots Edu, and Jamshedur Rahman Jihad is a co-founder. After finishing HSC in 2013, Riddha enrolled at BUET, whereas Jihad enrolled in MIST in the EEE department. While studying at the university, both of them got the opportunity to teach in various reputed coaching centers of the country, and continued their teaching activities in those coaching centers till mid-2015. While doing coaching during the Admission test preparation, and later on, from the teaching experience, they can realize that the teaching pattern of renowned university teachers from the country’s reputed coaching centers is highly dynamic and efficient. Inspired by this teaching method, Riddha and Jihad set up an offline coaching center called ‘ROOTs’ in Uttara, Dhaka in mid-2015.
Initially the institute was running its activities offline, but in their previous teaching experience, they visited different districts of the country and noticed that coaching education was not yet accessible to many students. Because the coaching centers were mostly located in Dhaka and the big divisional cities and a few located in district cities. But it is not always possible to maintain quality education in these branches like Dhaka or divisional cities. For many students, doing coaching by arranging accommodation in Dhaka or divisional cities has become quite expensive. Because, at the time of the admission test, the coaching centers charge ranges from 20 to 25 thousand taka depending on location, which is out of reach for the country’s medium and lower-income students. To address these issues, the startup plans to conduct online-based activities such as BYJU’s, and Unacademy, to minimize such barriers in the coaching sector and bring students from all over the country under an interactive and efficient teaching process. As a response, Riddha himself learned web development and launched his website ‘ROOTs Edu’ in April 2018.
In November of that year, Riddha and Jihad started recording content for the platform by renting a flat in Uttara. With the help of a digital board and PowerPoint, they recorded the entire syllabus of Physics, Chemistry, and Math within three months of starting the program. Digital Board is basically an electronic alternative to the traditional Black and White board which helps to make the education process more interactive and efficient by displaying live handwriting.
Initially, ROOTs Edu not only promoted the website through various social media, but also gave access to more than half of the website’s content for free. In addition, ROOTs Edu charged subscribers a one-time subscription fee of BDT 1,600 for accessing all the content on the website. As ROOTs Edu’s content is in-depth and affordable compared to other platforms, the demand among students was also increasing. As a result, the platform decided to launch an app for smartphone users. On the other hand, in mid-2020, Ridhha and Jihad’s friend ‘Sadaf’ joined ROOTs Edu as CTO. In September of that year, ROOTs Edu successfully launched the Android version of their mobile app.
ROOTs Edu was working on several new crash course segments, such as “3 Months Complete Course of HSC Syllabus”, and “Admission Courses”, which was unveiled after the launch of Android app. Although they face a number of challenges when designing the app’s user interface, the platform has been growing faster since the app was launched. As a consequence, in late 2020, the startup raised funding in two rounds, including the Rezaul Karim Angel Round and Omicon Tech Ventures, a venture fund of Omicon Group, one of the country’s leading publishing houses. ROOTs Edu has served over 5 lakh students so far through over 30 courses. There are already more than 30 dedicated teachers on the platform.
ROOTs Edu’s provides paid courses for students in several segments for examinations such as SSC, HSC, Varsity, and Medical Admission Test. By enrolling in paid courses and purchasing subscriptions, students gain access to the course content, interact with teachers in live classes, and resolve any doubts they may have. Furthermore, if students ever had any queries about the course content, they may get answers through the app 24 hours a day. In addition, the platform also provides counseling services such as guidelines and motivation as admission preparation instructions.
In addition to subscriptions, Roots Edu hosts over 100 live classes every month on social media platforms. As a consequence, students may now take part in live courses via social media. Furthermore, for the convenience of the students, they publish recorded videos of the live class on Facebook and YouTube. Students can see live classes and videos on the online platform, but they do not have access to Doubt Solving and Guided Mentorship facilities. As a consequence, if a live class isn’t enough for them, they can opt for a subscription plan.
To extend their activities, Roots Edu plans to launch “Competitive exam test prep” as a one-stop solution for exams such as Bank Job and BCS by mid-2022.
They also intend to improve the user interface so that 4,000 to 5,000 students can attend classes at the same time. They also plan to use Artificial Intelligence to make their learning experience more efficient. In addition, the start-up plans to add animations to make the course slides more interactive. The platform also intends to eliminate human involvement by automating the 24/7 Doubt Solving Service, which will provide students real-time problem solving facilities.