Behind the merger of two higher-education companies

Funded by Ranjan Pai’s MEMG Family office in the Series B round for US $3.2 million, Growth Story-backedhigher education companies Avagmah and Acadgildcame together in 2017 under the banner AEON learning

Karthik Kadampully, CEO, Aeon Learning

As the job market demands professionals to be equipped with newer skill sets, there is an increasing demand for new-age courses like blockchain technology, ethical hacking, data analytics etc along with the evergreen management-specific courses. Avagmah and Acadgild, two companies that offer courses in these fields look to reach a synergy and cater to the growing number of takers for such courses.

Within months of coming together under the common brand AEON Learning, Avagmah and Acadgild raised US $3.2 million as Series B funding from MEMG Family office LLP in early 2018. The advisory board includes Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, Growth Story founder Ganesh Krishnan, Aptech founder Atul Nichar, Edumetrix founder John Stuppy and Vinod Dham, Father of the Pentium Processor.

Avagmah, which offers distance learning management degrees and courses in partnership with universities and Acadgild, which provides live instructor-led online certification courses for professionals merged in November 2017.

“It took us 6 to 8 months before coming to a conclusion between Acadgild and Avagmah,” says Karthik Kadampully, CEO of AEON Learning, who comes with a two decade-long experience in the education space. Having run ventures such as Microland Limited and 24X7 Learning, Kadampully came together with Sankar Bora and Prasad Gulla to create an online product that was different from MOOCs.

The concept behind Avagmah

The reason behind this he says, “In the case of MOOCs is that it is mostly just videos. People don’t have that many take-aways. They don’t learn much by passive watching.” So, they came up with the Avagmah platform in 2013 which emphasised immersive learning- through a replication of the classroom space virtually with case studies and interactive discussions. Avagmah through tie-ups with institutes like IIM-B, AIMA, Bharatidasan University offers short term and degree courses in management.

It was after several demonstrations that institutes came on board, Kadampully notes, stating maybe the solution was ahead of the market when they were starting out. “To catch on with the early adopters, we went with the first proof of concept that this model works well in the US and we were trying to replicate that in India.”

What helped convince institutes were the personal pedigree and the people they were back by. Lionrock Capital, Growth Story founder, Ganesh Krishnan and Zodius Capital founder, Neeraj Bhargava were among their early investors.

“It took us 6 to 8 months before coming to a conclusion between Acadgild and Avagmah,” says Karthik Kadampully, CEO of AEON Learning.

The partnership with Acadgild

After the initial few years the team was looking to grow further and were considering partnerships. “We were debating the build vs. buy approach,” Kadampully says when the team came into contact with Acadgild. Founded by Vikalp Jain(Former CTO of Flipclass), Rahul Jain and Vinod Dham in 2015, Acadgild provides online and offline courses in the IT space.

While Avagmah had made inroads in offering management courses, one vertical they were looking to enter was IT, which Acadgild concentrated on. “In terms of synergy, we felt it was right.  We realised that different verticals need different specialists. Plus, both Avagmah and Acadgild are Bengaluru -based which helped us coming together.”

Capitalising on the IT sector in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore regions, Acadgild’s Android development programs are popular through its bootcamp approach of training.

The way forward

Today, AEON learning looks to expand its presence in the North and West pockets of the country. The company is on the way to clock in Rs. 30 crore for FY19 and Kadampully says, “At the present run rate, we will do a little over the target.” Now, with Avagmah and Acadgild together, Kadampully is positive that in the coming months the IT sector based technical courses will gain more traction- a thought echoed by Kris Gopalakrishnan (another early investor) who had advised the team to focus on making headway in technology based courses in addition to the evergreen management courses.

The two companies under AEON Learning brand

Acadgild Avagmah
Founded in 2015 Founded in 2013
Founders: Vikalp Jain, Vinod Dham,  Rahul Jain Founders: Karthik Kadampully, Sankar Bora, Prasad Gulla
Company profile: Platform which offers live instructor-led online certification courses along with placement assistance Company profile: Partnerships with universities  to provide distance learning management degrees and short-term courses, tie-ups with corporates to train employees

Reach of AEON Learning

  • Caters to 22,000 students
  • Presence in 66 countries
  • 20% revenue comes from outside Indian market

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