EduSports: playing on foreign fields too

N. Ramakrishnan | Updated on October 20, 2013 Published on October 20, 2013

Saumil Majmudar, Co-Founder & Managing Director, EduSports. — N. Ramakrishnan

Signs up with schools in Nepal, West Asia; hopes to tie up with a partner in the UK

Saumil Majmudar is lot more confident of his venture now than he was a little over a year ago when he was first profiled on these pages. Then, the failure of his first venture was still fresh in his mind. He has now put that behind him and has taken his business overseas.

“Slowly I get the feeling that it is the right place, right time, right product and right team. When we started out, it used to be what we can do right. Now slowly it is getting to I hope we don’t do anything wrong. As my father used to say, you can be conservative when you have something to conserve. Slowly now, we have got something to conserve,” says Saumil, Co-Founder and Managing Director, EduSports Pvt Ltd.

EduSports offers structured physical education curriculum and training for schools, with its staff running the programme for the schools that have signed up. EduSports provides a comprehensive assessment of each child’s progress in sports and games. It charges the schools a monthly fee for each child.

His confidence in his venture comes out when he asks why EduSports cannot be the Google or Amazon of physical education. Or, when talking of global companies coming and acquiring Indian start-ups, he says why can’t EduSports be the one that goes out and acquires others. Too early to talk on those lines, he quickly adds, but nevertheless…

Targeting million kids

EduSports has now signed up 330 schools, covering about two lakh children. His target is to take it to 1,000 schools and a million kids, in four years. It also has about 50 pre-schools as its clients.

The Bangalore-based company has signed up with schools in Nepal, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. “We are getting some action from outside India. We are not knocking on doors, we don’t have the money for that,” Saumil says.

The overseas expansion happened either because schools have been set up by Indian trusts or have Indian teachers working with them, and they were aware of EduSports and its structured physical education curriculum and training.

Interestingly, says Saumil, the problem of getting kids to play and health and fitness seems to be a global one. What he thought was peculiar to India, seemed to be the case in Nepal and West Asia. During a recent visit to the UK, he found that it was a problem there too. There were wide open, green spaces for children to go out and play, but parents were worried about their security.

So, it all boils down to schools being the centre for all physical activity.

Even in the UK, Saumil found that report cards talked of the child’s performance in various subjects and when it came to sports, it mentioned that the team did well. There was no individual assessment, which Saumil sees as an opportunity.

Revenue model

He is in preliminary talks with a partner to see if his model will work there. He was pleasantly surprised when that prospective partner sent a mail to potential investors describing EduSports as the world’s largest handler of kids’ sports. He himself hadn’t thought of his company in those terms.

What is the revenue model abroad? It is the same, per child, per month, says Saumil. In Nepal, EduSports’ staff conduct the programme, but in West Asia, because of strict visa rules, the local people are trained to conduct the programme and the curriculum is licensed to the schools. The money overseas is three to four times what it gets in India.

In India, EduSports has been able to increase the fee it charges. The last 50-odd deals are in the Rs 100-125 a child per month range against Rs 75-100 a child earlier, and the last 20 deals are in the Rs 125-150 a child range.

“We have started saying no to some business. We have started saying no when the payment terms are not necessarily good or they are squeezing too much on pricing. We have now reached a point where we need to start showing profitable growth, not just growth,” says Saumil.

The business, according to him, has broken even and will be EBIDTA positive this year. Next year, he hopes it will be able to grow with internal accruals.

He is not looking at any fresh funds, but whenever investors show an interest, he talks to them, if not for anything at least to educate them on the business.

In 2010, EduSports got a Rs 5-crore funding from Seedfund, which invests in early-stage ventures.

Playgrounds for families

Saumil is now looking to tie up with schools to use their playgrounds during the week-ends for entire families to come and play their favourite game, or to learn a new sport.

EduSports will create a set of activity calendars for individual families. The idea is to look at schools as community health and wellness centres. “I am convinced of the school model. Because off-school, you run out of places very soon,” adds Saumil.

He is conscious that as EduSports grows, he has to ensure that quality does not drop. And, they will have to ensure that the schools get their staff trained by EduSports to run the physical education curriculum, rather than EduSports posting its staff in the schools. He also wants to automate the assessment process, rather than have a coach monitor each child.

“We are trying to see if there is a model where I can codify the knowledge in the coach’s brain. Maybe in two-three years I will have a product. The good news is that now this business is stable and there are all these issues I can look at,” Saumil says.

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Published on October 20, 2013
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