Online home-schooling start-up 21K School is set to make its edtech platform Web 3-ready. The start-up is set to launch metaverse learning experience, NFTs of students’ artwork and projects, and deploying blockchain to secure student identity, marksheets and reports starting from June this year.

The start-up is also looking to raise around $30-35 million over the next two months, Co-founder and CEO Santosh Kumar told BusinessLine. 21K School is backed by UpGrad’s Ronnie Screwvala, who invested around $5 million in a Pre-series A round in November 2021.

Founded by Kumar and Yeshwanth Raj Parasmal in 2020, the start-up had around 300 students in its first academic year for classes Nursery to 5th grade based on Indian curriculum. In 2021, it had around 3500 students across British, American and Indian curriculum and will be offering classes till 12th grade from 2022.

“We are currently present in 400 cities across India, 35 countries outside India with students from 17 nationalities. It is a conventional classroom experience delivered online, added with AI/ML in the back end to monitor student progress in real time and offer remedial measures accordingly. We are offering two different batches, each of three-four hours,” Parasmal, Co-founder and COO said.

The students joining this platform have various needs. Some of their parents have moved back to tier-II and Tier-III cities during the pandemic and they want quality education for their students at reasonable costs. NRIs who are looking for Indian curriculum, students with disabilities, and sports persons to name a few. There are 1-2 million students home schooling in India at present, Parasmal said.

Metaverse experience

Kumar said, “Metaverse was considered after the students and parents asked for a way of social interaction. We are creating a 3D space of interaction wherein students, parents, teachers and the societies can interact. We are going to launch all of these in a phased manner over the next one year,” Kumar said referring to the other features of NFTs and blockchain as well.

He added, “There’s a huge amount of art being created by our students, whether it is in text, podcast, images and we wanted to put it in a proper use. So, we decided to create a digital art gallery for them and convert them into NFTs. We are not getting into any sort of active trading; the marketplace is only for showcasing the work our students have done. All proceedings earned on selling of a particular student’s work will go as a scholarship to the student.”

The blockchain application will be purely to secure and provide verification of student’s identity, portfolio of work, marksheets and report cards that can be accessed anywhere and be provided to universities for future education.

Funding and expansion

21K School charges around ₹30,000-40,000 annually and has around 200 teachers apart from 60 staff members.

Kumar said, “We are planning for a $30-35 million fund raise in the next two months. It will be used to boost our complete offering. We want to offer our courses in four different time zones and expand globally and upgrade technology. With Metaverse coming in, we need to build a lot of digital assets into it to improve the experience.”

This comes at a time when the Indian government too has been actively promoting online platforms for educating students and digital universities.