Kids should be technology creators, not consumers: White Hat Jr CEO

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on September 07, 2020

Plans afoot to launch in multiple English speaking countries in the next few months

Children should be the creators of technology, according to Karan Bajaj, Founder and CEO of education technology platform White Hat Jr.

White Hat Jr, a platform that teaches the fundamentals of coding to children, was acquired by BYJU’S last month in a $300-million cash deal.

In an interview with BusinessLine, Bajaj discussed the idea behind the platform, its global expansion strategy along with the future of education technology in India. Excerpts:

How has the journey been so far for White Hat Jr?

The company started with a single idea that kids should be creators of technology, not consumers of it. And as creators of technology, they’ll also be builders of their whole life. Kids loved it because it was all creative and building; parents loved it because they saw value in a kid having very strong native comfort with technology.

It’s been a little less than two years and we are already at about a $225 million run rate. The heart of the classroom is the teachers. They’re all highly qualified women.

Post the BYJU’s acquisition, what is the next phase of your journey?

The plan is a strong international expansion for White Hat Jr. We just launched in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. We plan to launch in multiple English speaking countries in the next few months. Then we will start launching in local markets as well as Spanish speaking South America where teachers and students are local.

How was your experience closing the BYJU’S deal on Zoom? Do you think this might become the “new normal’’ moving forward?

It was very efficient for us, complete virtual deal. I think that’s going to be the norm of the future.

Also read BYJU’S acquires ed-tech start-up WhiteHat Jr in $300-million cash deal

Is finding qualified teachers a challenge? How do you go about hiring?

Not really. We had to obviously set up very, very strong interval training ecosystems as we scaled up. And we have a very strong product, strong curriculum. So we were able to set those internal training mechanisms up very quickly. But definitely with scaling, you need to set very robust training processes.

What are your thoughts on the accessibility of education technology beyond Tier-I cities?

Based on all the data that we are looking at, laptop penetration and broadband penetration is growing very fast. People are seeing and treating it like a necessity more than anytime else. For us, it’s a huge pool outside the metros. 65 per cent of our revenue comes outside of the top 15 cities.

What is your opinion on the new education policy? What will be its impact on the future of edtech?

I’m very excited about the new policies in school. I hope it gets implemented well. In terms of the future of education technology, I think it’s very robust because the biggest promise of edtech is personalisation. We are able to connect one student to one teacher that can never happen in the physical world right now.

What is your strategy in terms of competition, given the growing interest in edtech?

The market is the whole world right now. We are barely scratching the surface of the market by being in India and the US and we just launched with a bunch of other countries. It’s a very large market and I think it’s great if competition comes in. More teaching jobs would be created in India. I welcome the competition.

Published on September 07, 2020

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