The startup is betting big on the UAE because it is one of the world’s most connected countries
Ravi Bhushan, a computer science graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)- Varanasi, started the learning platform BrightCHAMPS in 2020 amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic. His mission was clear: To transform millennial pupils into technology leaders who can come up with innovative and sustainable solutions for modern-age problems.
BrightCHAMPS draws its inspirations from the founder’s own childhood, when he realised that he wanted to learn more than what was being taught in the classroom and within the set curriculum.
Frustrated by the pace and limitations of his classroom, he requested his grandfather to allow him to be homeschooled. His grandfather agreed, provided he maintained high grades in school, which he achieved with flying colours.
His innate belief that those who will build technology will shape the future in meaningful ways has stood him in good stead in his stellar professional career.
He is passionate about ushering in a sea-change in the crowded edtech market.
“When I entered IIT-BHU, I was one of the few students there who had never been meaningfully exposed to or used computers or technology. However, by the time I finished my computer science degree, I had won every major coding competition across the country,” said Bhushan, who has successfully led two companies from early stage to series D funding. He was the chief technology officer (CTO) of Proptiger, business head of Makaan.com and chief product and technology officer at Housing.com.
“The more time I’ve spent in technology, the more I realise that traditional education systems around the world are not keeping pace with the rapid advancements across important emerging technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML), cryptocurrencies, blockchain, Web 3.0, and so many others. So, this is the gap we’re trying to fill with BrightCHAMPS,” he said.
“We aspire to become the one-stop-destination to equip children with Next-Gen life skills. Our carefully curated curriculum includes courses in coding, Vedic (ancient Indian religious texts) mathematics, basics of money, emotional wellness, robotics, AI and newer technologies and skills,” he said.
How the platform works
Bhushan gave an insight into BrightCHAMPS’ offerings.
“All our gamification features across the product such as our international cultural exchange programme Global House, our global hackathon Code/Decode, and our in-application (app) play currency BrightBEANS are geared towards testing learning outcomes,” he said.
In retrospect, the pandemic has been an opportunity for BrightCHAMPS.
“The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for the adoption of technology. The integration of technology with education is an idea whose time has come since it is the only viable way to solve the problem of access and opportunity in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. The pandemic fast-tracked the adoption of technology among those who might have otherwise been on the fence or hesitant to see it as a tool through which their children can achieve superior learning outcomes. But now that they have experienced the convenience, impact, savings in terms of time and money, and superiority of services, and safety of educational technology, I’m confident that the sector will grow by leaps and bounds in the coming years. Our steady growth illustrates that quality of services triumph over offline modes of education,” Bhushan added.
The edtech sector has been beset with challenges such as mis-selling.
Bhushan maintained that their “sales model is built on truth, which is why we’ve had negligible dropouts from our programmes from the outset.
BrightCHAMPS is betting big on the UAE because it is one of the world’s most connected countries, where the Internet penetration was at 99.15 per cent in 2019.
“With high per capita income around Dh140,000 in the UAE, greater propensity to spend, population concentration in urban centres, widespread adoption of social media, the young nation is a preferred choice.
“Our approach in UAE has been much like the one we adopted in Indonesia, where we addressed the language barrier by ensuring all our curriculum was translated in Bahasa. we’re in the process of translating all of our content in Arabic as well. We also ensure that our teachers are bilingual (English + local language) so that pupils who are not proficient are not at a disadvantage,” he added.
Technology skills: The biggest vertical, where the courses are categorised as Little Champs, Junior Champs and Senior Champs, depending on the student’s grade and priced at Dh1,514, Dh2,948 and Dh5,763 for 30, 66 and 150 classes, respectively. The biggest customer base for tech skills is in Indonesia, the UAE, India, Southeast Asia (SEA) and Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Little Champs (Grade 1-3) includes classes on coding fundamentals, app development, game development, scientific exploration, Codimath, Tinkercad 3D, AR/VR, design thinking, HTML/CSS and Microbit.
Junior Champs (Grade 4-6) seeks to familiarise pupils with slightly more advanced forms of tech, including machine learning, python advanced and more.
Financial literacy: Education10x by BrightCHAMPS and this was acquired November-December 2021.
The biggest customer base for Education10x is in the UAE, India, Indonesia, USA and our courses are priced at Dh2,200 AED (beginner course, 30 sessions), Dh4,000 (foundation Course, 60 sessions) and Dh8,000 (certification course, 150 sessions).
The beginner course consists of 30 sessions covering money mantras, introduction to money and finance management, understanding banking and insurance and introduction to investing.
The foundation Course has 60 classes on hands-on-equity, cryptocurrency and early entrepreneurship.
The certification course has 150 sessions that teach investments, advanced cryptocurrency, hands-on entrepreneurship and a deep dive into various case studies.
Communication skills: This is the newest vertical and operates as Schola.tv by BrightCHAMPS and was acquired last month.
The curriculum under Schola is divided into different tracks.
Initially, Kids Academic and Communications Track aids young learners in learning English Language, phonetics, and basic concepts and later to higher order thinking skills, applying them in multiple activities.
Presenting Track guides learners through the key prerequisites for the development of presentation skills.
Adult General English Academic Track guides learners through the principles of English language.
IELTS Communication Track is designed for non-native English speakers, enabling them to become more proficient in their reading and writing skills. Private one-on-one classes ensure that students are able to learn and practice more and improve their score on these tests.
The course fee ranges between Dh150 and Dh3,100.
The UAE, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia are the biggest markets for this vertical.
RoboCHAMPS has its strongest presence in UAE, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) and Europe. Starting at Dh1,300, the curriculum is categorised into four courses.
Spirit Course (Dh350) introduces pupils to the world of technologies with sessions on circuit building, electromagnetism, hydraulic sciences, and hologram technology. The course includes fun yet informative do-it-yourself (DIY) projects like crafting your personal speaker, lemon battery, Swinging Air-Plane and Crisp D.I.Y. Hologram Projector.
Opportunity Course (Dh1,300) explores the latest real-world technological concepts and their applications. Pupils learn about and create technologies such as electronic sensors, social robots, AI and ML.
Curiosity Course (Dh2,600) allows pupils to put their previously learned concepts into application and develop robotics projects augmenting not only their technological and analytical thinking but also stimulating their creativity. The projects cover a wide spectrum of concepts like electronics and circuit developing, Digital/Analog input/output (I/O) interfaces, picking and placing robots, autonomous to multipurpose robots and Internet of Things etc.
Perseverance Course (Dh6,000) helps pupils to develop real-world problem-solving skills and create practical, industry standard projects such as robotics arms, kinematics and mathematics for robots, humanoids, bio-inspired robots, all terrain robots etc.
BrightCHAMPS plans to use a $100-million (Dh367.31-million) investment war-chest for acquisitions and to build more meaningful synergies, keeping in mind that the companies they acquire must:
1). Help them deepen their presence and increase market share in existing geographies
2. Launch themselves in new geographies in a substantial way for any of their four verticals
3) Help them add a vertical or business model to their existing businesses
Besides, regular global house events, activities, hackathons and workshops are being conducted to encourage diversity and bring together the global community of teachers and pupils.