Chennai-based Chrysalis’ founder Chitra Ravi reflects on the company’s 18-year journey of delivering education products to schools
The spark to become an entrepreneur comes from surprising places. For Chrysalis’ (formerly known as EZ Vidya) founder Chitra Ravi, it was from reading her daughter’s textbook which said, “A computer can do everything fast unlike you.” For Chitra, this statement made her question the way one conditions their children. This instance, that took place in 2001, sowed the seeds for the incorporation of EZ Vidya, a company which defines its mission to ‘Stand up for every child’ and launched its flagship product, Think Room, a curriculum design program for classrooms.
It is currently present in 500 schools across 11 states. The team works with schools for an initial period of 2-3 days of training. Following the training, they visit schools once around every 40 days and conduct focus group discussion trainings.
Think Room comes with child focused curriculum, teacher assistance tools, assessment tools for students which can be used in the classroom. Further, students can also access the product while at home. In the affordable private school segments, the product is priced at Rs.1750 per student.
In 2017, the company released an app called Buzzle Cards which helps convey Maths and English concepts through augmented reality using animation. Another product for the K-12 segment is the ICT curriculum which creates content for the information and communication technology.
We are open to different partnership models to expand as long as they share the same vision.
On working with different stakeholders
“For the B2B start-up, partnerships with schools have picked up gradually,” says the founder.She adds, “When schools understand that our intent is good and approach is collaborative, the management gets on board,” she says.
Besides working directly with schools, the company works with parents and the ecosystem through workshops, conferences and research publications. With their research findings, they also approach policy makers to discuss about the impact of various programs. One such initiative was the review of the CCE or the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation for which they interacted with 1000 teachers across 120 schools.
While the company works with different stakeholders, the orientation is completely towards children.Though a B2B organisation, Chitra believes that the students’ testimony would be their biggest achievement.
Primarily, the company did not raise any external funds. “We didn’t want funding for survival but wanted investors who had access to intellectual capital,” says Chitra. With this clarity, the company found synergy with Gray Matters Capital (GMC). GMC, which classifies itself as an impact investor with a ‘Gender Lens’, had funded the Buzzle Cards product as an initial investment. Earlier this year, GMC came on board investing through their edLABS initiative to fund early-stage education startups.
“Right from our initial investment, Chrysalis has focused deeply on the curriculum. Their vision and execution for AI driven research and development is strong,” says Smita Sircar, Innovation Director, edLABS and ecosystem, Gray Matters Capital. “What stood out for us was their approach towards learning as a human-centred design concept,” she explains.
The plan moving forward
In the next three years, the company hopes to reach all the pockets of the country. In the short term, the company plans to expand to Central India and eventually, enter the Northern centres. They have field teams in Bengaluru and Hyderabad currently which they are looking to expand as well.
“We are open to different partnership models as long as long as they share the same vision,” she says. However, with quality of curriculum in mind, they are slow to go forward, noting that the team is willing to look at franchise models also.
Besides expansion, Chitra says that her priorities revolve around improving the product’s pedagogy offering. Further, she feels leveraging technology and artificial intelligence to increase students’ interaction and building a community passionate about learning are her key focus areas.
Snapshot – Chrysalis
Gray Matters Capital