Divesh Bathija, Entrepreneur, Founder Director, Dinasim Learning completed his Bachelors in Banking and Insurance from the prestigious Mumbai-based HR College. He was awarded a full scholarship for post-graduation in the University of Westminster which he received at the hands of the then HRD Minister Kapil Sibal. Later, he joined Cushman and Wakefield, one of the world’s leading financial institutions in the realty sector. Donning the cap of project leader several times for social awareness projects. He was handed many responsibilities by the Sheriff of Mumbai, Dr. Indu Shahani.Bathija has participated in exchange programs such as SIFE(Student is free enterprise).
Established in 2012 with a single-minded approach to re-approach the crucial but much misunderstood subject of Mathematics, Dinasam Learning is a Mumbai-based start-up. To fulfill its objective of getting students to view Maths from a ‘concept’ point-of-view rather than a mechanical ‘score’ perspective, the firm employs exciting games and activities in its teachings.
In an exclusive interview to IIFL's Manu Kaushik , Bathija spoke about his entrepreneurial journey and his plans for the company going forward. Speaking on his rationale for starting Dinasim, he said, “The idea to club maths with pop culture, games germinated during the pilot project conducted in Mumbai, where we identified that through games, children responded quickly as compared to traditional method.”
At the age of 24, when many are still deciding what to do with their lives, you started your own venture...Dinasim. How did you arrive at this decision? Did you face any resistance from your family?
My family was very supportive and gave me all the opportunities to explore this new venture. My post-graduation in UK gave me a glimpse of the gaps in our education system. Keeping that in mind, I decided to start Dinasim Learning.
What made you give up your secure career in investment and risk finance to start this venture?
The whole Idea of being associated with education and helping students in finding value in what they study excited me to quite an extent.
How and when did the idea to club maths with pop culture, games germinate? Did its roots spring from own educational experience?
This was during the pilot project conducted in Mumbai, where we identified that through games, children responded quickly as compared to traditional methods.
As an entrepreneur, what were the initial hiccups that you faced while going about Dinasim
Being a new concept, it faced quite a lot of hurdles initially. Many schools were not aware of this program, until we conducted our very first batches of workshops. Seeing the results many others followed.
What has been the students feedback to this new method? Has their resistance to maths turned to acceptance post this?
Students in India have shown a very strong resistance for this subject, which is mainly because they are unable to understand the subject. Playing games helps us connect to students which makes the subject more interesting and helps students understand that mathematics is not restricted to textbooks. Students gave a very positive feedback so far. This has helped them look at the subject with a different angle altogether.
How did you go about setting up Dinasim? From where did you raise the seed capital?
The seed capital was raised with the help of a small start up loan, while now we have an investor who has pumped in funds, helping us scale up our operations.
How are responsibilities split.. Because a number of start-ups fail due to difference of opinion among promoters?
Being the single brain behind this concept, I have managed to avoid any such situations.
Could you take us through your business model? Will you be looking at the franchise model to grow the business or will be a more centralized hub-and-spook model?
As of now we are more focused for a centralized hub and spook model. We may look at a franchise model at later stage depending upon demand.
Have you tied up with any PE investors or there are plans to bring them on board to scale up the business?
As mentioned earlier we have partnered with an Angel Investor, funding opportunities are helping us scale up our operations on a pan India Level.
Who is the Angel investor?
The angel Investor is our partner who has helped us to scale our operations, Her Name is Mrs. Manju Chandni.
How much is the investment?
The investment amount its confidential and cannot be disclosed at this point in time.
Do you have any expansion or diversification plans?
We are currently in the expansion phase. With regards to diversification, we are looking at various opportunities with respect to English, which will be pursued in the long term plan and not in the near future.
How is the expansion taking place? Please elaborate.
We are looking to tap schools outside Mumbai, and strive to reach pan India. We have started with residential schools initially. As of now focus is mainly on residential schools, and big schools like Scinda School in Gwalior, SKS Gyanmandir in Bhanpura, MP, then others like Prudence International, Karjat, Ram Ratna International, Uttan are a few recently added schools in the last quarter.
What is fun-tangent?
Fun tangent is program which we conduct for students outside schools (in the individual segment). We launched it in summers 2013, we have seen a lot of demand arising in the individual Workshop segment
What are the services you currently offer?
Workshops for school (Students as well as teachers)
Workshops for students (Outside school: Fun tangent)
Individual Workshops for students (Launched in Mumbai)
What is their pricing?
Pricing for Schools (12,000-18,000 per visit to schools)
Pricing for students workshops (1000-1500 per session)
Is there scope for further price increase?
Maybe, but don’t see a major impact as such.
How long did it take to break-even?
It took us 12-14 months to break-even.
What is your view of the current education system? What could be the key game-changer in this sector? Do you feel government controls need to be further loosened? Any targets for the business set?
The Current education system is only ‘marks’ oriented, with very limited access to knowledge enhancement. The government controls need to be twisted in favorable manner, which gives more importance to build student conceptually strong.
Are there plans to set up another venture?
Plans are at a very initial stage to discuss at this point in time.
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