The startup that wanted to help students prepare for exams online and Winners of the 2014 TechCabal battlefield? Well since their victory in 2014, PrepClass, made up of UNILAG alumni, has gone on to accumulate impressive accolades, both in Nigeria and abroad.
One year and over 2000 users after, in an interview with the PrepClass team, Ogunlana Olumide, Obanor Chukwuwezam, TechCabal attempts to get the goods on their progress since last year.
How much financial backing do you have now, and by whom?
Prepclass has received a total of $20,000 in cash, which was a winning from the TechCabal Battlefield. However we have since attracted another roughly $12,500 of equity free funding having emerged as the overall grand prize winner from Africa in the Indiaafrica competition which held on June 11, 2014, which opened us up to a lot of investment opportunities with prominent Venture capitalists in India. We also have a small convertible debt funding from an undisclosed Angel investor
What would you describe as your biggest risk right now?
Since the market is still very young and naive, there are no market dominators yet. The biggest possible risk we can think of at the moment is the emergence of an unfavourable Government policy, we consider it rather unlikely but we are doing what we can to work with Government parastatals.
How did winning the TechCabal battlefield impact your progress?
Winning the TechCabal Battlefield provided us with a lot of publicity, a lot of it. It also opened many doors for us that previously would have remained shut.
- We were mentioned by Fastcompany as one of the 2014 most innovative companies in Africa alongside Konga and Jumia.
- We were invited to MIT Boston – which could be said to be PrepClass’ birthplace because the Prepclass team was actually borne out MIT Global Startup Lab when MIT instructors visited UNILAG to train on Technology Entrepreneurship – to showcase our solution to the MIT community, on 17th-21st May, 2014, where they had a dinner in our honour.
- We were approached by the education department of the African Development Bank Group and some interesting talks are currently going on.
- We have also gotten several other mentions from reputable media houses regarding our involvement in the education sector
Asides the cash winning, the press and attention we have gotten has been super impressive. As one of our mentors says, Nigeria is a binary market, its either 1 or 0. It’s very smart to achieve a monopolistic dominance in any naïve and young industry and battlefield as supported us a lot in capturing the first mover advantage in this case and we are poised to dominating this space.
What did you do with the prize, the $20,000?
So far, bulk of the winning from the TechCabal Battlefield has been spent on content development, technology and slight marketing. We have built a niche product specifically for the university market and we are currently reviewing it in our test environment.
We have hired more content developers and we have way more content than we had initially. We are exploring more marketing options and validating some concepts and ideas we had around exponential sales.
So what’s next?
Quite frankly we have spoken to several investors. Some of the popular names in the Nigerian Ecosystem and abroad. Currently we have some money in the bank but we are likely to spend aggressively in the next few weeks. After which likely to rely more on the revenue that would be generated by the business. We are already implementing strategies that would increase our revenues by several times between now and November but we are employing a lot of boot-strapping in our to achieve our goals
What has the market been like for PrepClass?
The market has actually been extremely responsive. Up until we received the TechCabal funds, we spent less than $250 on marketing in 4 months and we made over $2500.
With time we have also realized that the opportunities that exist in the market exceed what we initially thought. There are a diverse number of revenue streams to tap into within the education space, at a point we constructed something we like to call the “DQ” – Decision Quotient.
Essentially the DQ is a mathematical model we designed based on our learning from JAMB that helps us decide what opportunities we should focus our resources on.
Could you describe what your biggest challenge right now is?
The biggest challenge PrepClass faces is distribution. There is no doubt that students would pay to use our platform but having a very wide distribution network and making prepclass very popular and very easily accessible is key.
Infrastructure is another major challenge. We did a short survey between our cyber café partners and you would be surprised to find that out that cyber cafes actually prefer to have an offline version of Prepclass (laughs). It is because of difficulty in employing and tracking a wide distribution network, we are aggressively seeking a partnership with Telcos
PrepClass is aiming to improve the quality of education, has it done that? How do you measure the progress?
Yes, we strongly believe it has. To track this we are currently consolidating our findings from the last Jamb exam which was our pilot and we are getting feedback from students who used Prepclass as to whether their usage of Prepclass reflected in their performance. We ask questions like what they thought they would score before writing the exam, what they scored and what they think they would have scored if they had not used Prepclass. By comparing their expectations against their results and their perception of prepclass influence on their scores we are able to get a sense of our impact.
So far the feedback has been very enlightening and quite positive. We might release an infographic of the feedback gotten.
We would definitely want to see that Infographic. If money were no object, what would you do right now?
While we might have some stuff figured out, some things are still in experiment mode for now and we are getting interesting results. If we had an infinite amount of money, our main focus right now would be in several distribution channels – cyber café, Tutorial centres, banks, book publishers, secondary schools.
Asides this, we would also have more funds to experiment more on our m-learning VAS solution and the university version of Prepclass for undergraduates. Like we said before, there are multiple possible revenue streams, if we had more money we would experiment with more of these revenue streams.
PrepClass is not resting on their oars though. Despite the massive progress made, and the positive reception that they have got, they realize that diversification is key.
The startup is building on their success with the JAMB exams and going into more exams including UNILAG Diploma, UNILAG Post UME, LASU etc.; tailoring a solution, http://prepclass.com.ng/uni, for university students to study past question materials and they have also built a standalone offline solution to deploy to secondary schools.