Riddhi Chirag Gala, Director, E-Class Education System Ltd, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commercial Arts. After interning in McCann Erickson followed by working in another reputed advertising agency, Ms. Gala joined Sundaram Multi Pap Limited as the Advertising and Marketing head. Today she is the Director of E-Class Education System Ltd. the wholly owned subsidiary of Sundaram Multi Pap Ltd. and also runs her own graphic design firm under the name of Salt Advertising. She has been a speaker at many NGO events, community forums and youth clubs. She firmly believes that quality education and accessibility to modern means of studies can lead the country to become a self-sustained and powerful nation led by young, ambitious and highly successful youth.
E-Class Education System Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sundaram Multi Pap Ltd., the market leader in the field of paper stationery products since 25 years. E-Class Education System is among the pioneers in developing audio-visual animated content for the Maharashtra State Board Syllabus, for standards 1 to 10. E-Class will also be widely available in rural Maharashtra. Sundaram innovated and started E-Class in the year 2006 with an aim to equip all children with the parallel quality of education and also make it available to the remotest regions of Maharashtra, so that each child is benefited. Today there are more than 3,50,000 students studying in over 500 schools that teach with the help of E-Class. Over 1,000 coaching classes and 10,000 end users (students and parents) are benefiting with E-Class.
Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Riddhi Gala says, “We aim to reach out to students with our E-class and provide good quality audio-visual learning aid.”
From a notebook player you have entered E-class education. Brief us on how your company has evolved over the years?
Sundaram Multi Pap Ltd.is a BSE and NSE listed company; it was established in 1985 started off as a school and office paper stationery manufacturing company. Over the past 26 years the company has grown by many folds and diversified into various other vertical of business. Our dedication and passion to deliver the best has led us to explore new avenues and fore see the future. We strongly believe in empowering our customers in all ways possible.
Over the years Sundaram has conducted many workshops for students like mind power, memory enhancement, handwriting improvement, stress release etc, it was during these workshops that we realized the need to provide a easy learning and fast grasping tool for the students, and what better way to make their studies interesting and reduce stress than to show the whole curriculum like a movie. It is a scientific fact that human mind remembers 70 to 80% of the things that are communicated through audio-visual medium, hence the birth of new subsidiary company: E-Class Education System Ltd. and the invention of a revolutionary learning aid: E-Class.
Who is your target customer for e-education?
There are approximately 90,000 state board schools in Maharashtra and over 2 crore students studying in these schools, our target is to reach out to these schools and students with the help of e-class in order to provide good quality audio-visual learning aid and bridge the digital divide.
Comment on your various businesses and what is the revenue and profit contribution from each?
Our main business segments are manufacturing of exercise books, paper & office stationery. E-class is audio-visual, animated content exactly as per the syllabus of Maharashtra State Board Curriculum; from Std I to X, it is available in English, Marathi and Semi-English Medium. The entire content of each standard is digitally stored in a pen-drive and can be easily viewed on a television with the help of e-box (multi-media player).
Today every household in India may not have a computer or internet, but all homes have a TV. The main effectiveness and best attribute of any technology is for it to be user-friendly.
Brief us on you financials?
Our revenues as on 31st March 2012 from exercise books, paper & stationery business is Rs1.75bn while that of E-Class is Rs50mn.
What kind of role should the government play in education now?
The government is already very active in the field of spreading education to every child of India and is doing a very good job. All we need to do now is upgrade our methods of teaching and learning in order to make studies less stressful and more interesting for children. I must say the syllabus of all our school level courses is really very good and helpful for building a strong base for the child's future.
How difficult is it for a new entrant into this business? What are the entry barriers?
Content development easily takes up to 3 to 5 years. There is a lot of quality check and huge R&D involved during and after the content is prepared. Hence, time & competition from other existing players are few of the entry barriers and of course there is always a first mover advantage.
How are the margins in your business?
Typically, the margins in this business are around 25%.
Comment on your initiatives in providing content for the Maharashtra State Board Syllabus.
We have developed an audio-visual learning concept for MS state Board, because the market is enormous, 90,000 schools and 2 crore students, whereas there are only about 10,000 CBSE schools across India. We really wanted to do something for the state board children, and there was a huge vacuum and a completely untapped market.
What is the reach of E-Class.? How many rural students does it cover?
Today there are more than 3,50,000 students studying in over 500 schools that teach with the help of E-Class. Over 1,000 coaching classes and 10,000 end users (students and parents) are benefiting with e-class.
Are you looking at any geographical expansion?
Yes, after successfully implementing this model in Maharashtra, we will expand to other states of India too.
What is your strategy for growth? What are your expansion plans and how would you fund the same?
Currently, we are completely focusing on spreading e-class to each and every student of Maharashtra. We want to make the most of our first mover’s advantage. We have a steady dealer-distributor network, vast chain of retailers, a successful direct marketing model, numerous offline and online platforms. We have recently developed e-class tablet with complete content in-built. We have tied up with DTH providers and we continuously work towards developing new platforms of delivery. As far as funding is concerned the parent company Sundaram Multi Pap Ltd. takes care of all the funding.
We have got a phenomenal response from schools, e-class has enabled their teachers to finish their curriculum on time and help them to explain difficult topics easily through audio-visuals, it has increased their institutes' brand value and goodwill in the society as they are now at the fore front of the 'technology in education' revolution and at par with their global counter parts.
Students have shown a lot of interest, e-class has made their studies exciting and easy, we feel really good when at the end of the year students call us up and tell us that their percentages have increased as high as 8% to 10% after using e-class compared to their previous year's results, children who were always average performers have gone as high as 80% to 91% marks in board exams.
It is our aim that one day each and every child of this nation will be empowered and excels in life with the help of e-class. Tomorrow will be a better future only if we work today. E-class is today's answer for tomorrow's success.