Emerging Entrepreneurs

Medicos turned techies make school admissions smoother

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on March 17, 2020 Published on March 16, 2020

Jagdish Devarajan, Founder, SchoolSkies   -  N. Ramakrishnan

SchoolSkies helps in automating the admission and fee payment process

Jagdish Devarajan and Praveena Jagdish are both medical professionals with postgraduate qualification in their respective fields. But that is not where they decided to make their name. Jagdish says he was interested in computers right from his school days and while he studied medicine following in his father’s footsteps, his passion continued to be computers and coding. And, when he got an opportunity, he switched careers and founded BotCode. Praveena who was teaching dentistry in a private medical college on the outskirts of Chennai used to help out Jagdish with his company, taking care of HR and administration functions. It was the experience they underwent with their children’s school admissions that made them come up with SchoolSkies, a Software as a Service (SaaS) product meant to help schools streamline their admissions process and make it hassle free for the schools and parents.

Parent-entrepreneurs

Praveena Jagdish, Founder, SchoolSkies   -  N. Ramakrishnan

 

Praveena describes themselves as parent-entrepreneurs. “We saw a lot of pain points in the school that our kids go to. We started helping the school administration iron out those problems. That is how the journey of SchoolSkies started,” she says. They developed the product after almost two years of studying the problem, talking to more than 50 schools and researching on how they could solve it.

There are problems when a school goes digital. They had to think about all the issues and come up with solutions before they launched SchoolSkies. Initially, their plan was to install the software product only in the school their children were studying in, but the husband-wife duo soon realised that similar problems existed for almost all the schools. So, why not make a business out of it. As word spread, they got calls from friends who wanted something similar for the schools their children went to and also from schools that had heard about the product. Thanks to this, SchoolSkies has grown organically.

 

What does SchoolSkies do? It takes care of the entire administration process of a school by digitising it, says Praveena. This digitising starts at the admission stage itself, which is where parents and schools experience a lot of hardship.

“You know how stressful it is for the parents to get admission for their children in schools. It is more stressful than deciding their own career path,” she says. “We decided to digitise the entire admission process so that a parent does not have to go to a school, stand in queue to get an application form, make enquiries and so on,” says Praveena.

The software allows parents to fill up the application online, upload whatever documents the school requires and pay the application fees online. Anxious parents need not have to worry about when the admission process will start for a particular school; all those details are available on the school’s website if it has installed SchoolSkies’ product.

Whether a child has got admission or not will be known only to the parents who get a discreet communication, unlike earlier when the names of selected children will be put up on a notice board and there would be a mad scramble to view the results. “Now,” says Jagdish, “only the parent will get to know the result. It is OTP driven. They must know the application number, only then will the result show up on the screen. It is all IP tracked. We will be able to see who all have viewed the results. For schools that had problems due to touts, this problem is solved.”

Chatbot assistant

The software has a chatbot that answers queries. There are nearly 35 modules in SchoolSkies that automates everything in the admission process and administrative issues. The school will be able to send out SMS alerts to the parents in case a holiday has been suddenly declared. There is also a facial recognition facility to mark attendance. More than 40 schools have signed up for the product, including in Bengaluru, Puducherry and a few in Himachal Pradesh. Bona fide certificates with digital signatures can be downloaded by the parents.

The challenge for them, according to Praveena and Jagdish, is that schools are slow adopters of technology. Teachers too need to be trained to use the software and hence a lot of hand-holding is required.

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Published on March 16, 2020
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