08 May 2022 07:30:56 IST

MicroDegree: Learning infotech in the language of Bharat

Gaurav Kamath, CEO, MicroDegree

It was during 2018­19 that Gaurav Kamath and Rakesh Kothari, both experienced professionals in the IT sector, and Manikanta Nair — a fresh engineering graduate — had started working on their individual start-­ups at a co­working place in Mangaluru. Though their start-­ups did not take off, their regular interactions touched upon a huge skill gap between industry and academia in the IT sector.

When they dug deeper, they found many engineering students mug up programming and other aspects to get a degree without any conceptual understanding of the subject. To solve this, the trio founded the start-­up MicroDegree, a multi­lingual IT skilling platform by the end of 2019. It was then decided to offer on-demand IT skill courses in Kannada, says Kamath, CEO of Micro Degree. 

Just prior to the Covid outbreak in 2020, MicroDegree had participated in the ‘Elevate’ programme, a grant-­in­aid scheme for start-­ups by the Karnataka government. The idea was selected and a grant was awarded. Following this, they shifted to pre-­recorded video lectures in subjects such as Python and Java in June 2020. 

The courses were of 10­-15 hours, with prices ranging from ₹499-­999. In January 2021, the start-up received pre­seed funding and in April, the seed funding from investors.

Live online classes

By July 2021, MicroDegree shifted online. “When you learn technical courses, there is a need for hand-holding, which is difficult to do in recorded classes,” Rakesh Kothari, CTO, says, adding, “Every class is taught in Kannada by industry experts, and many are working in multinational companies.” Subjects such as cloud computing, data science, Azure DevOps and Power BI Certification are being taught this way.

Since technical terminologies are in English, Kothari says the course is 60 per cent Kannada and 40 per cent English. To provide personalised training, 10-30 students are enrolled per batch for live online classes. Stating it is as good as attending an offline class, Manikanta Nair, CBO, says the classes are set in such a way that everyone gets attention in the batch.

The two­-month online live classes are held on weekdays. The cost of live classes ranges from ₹2,500 to ­ ₹20,000 for two months. More than 15,000 people are part of MicroDegree courses since inception, he explains.

Why Bharat?

Expressing the intention to reach the Bharat market, Kamath elaborates, “When I speak about Bharat, I am referring to small towns and villages that have aspiring students, but the language barrier is affecting them. Our idea is to empower those who come from smaller towns and villages.”

Users of MicroDegree are students, freshers, working professionals, and non-­IT people who aspire to work in IT companies. “Right now, we are looking to go deeper in the Karnataka market. But we are targetting the whole Bharat market in languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Odiya, and Marathi,” he says.

Samanth Kumar, who was part of the offline batch in the initial days, said he was finding programming a bit difficult during his final year of engineering. MicroDegree course helped him to learn fullstack development from scratch to the advanced level in detail, as he could comprehend the needed skills. 

Now, Samanth is working as a software developer in a company in Mangaluru. 

Mohammed Tariq, who opted for live online classes of React.JS in 2021, said the concepts are understood better when people learn in their native language.

Stating that the usage of native language was the advantage with this, he said even the way MicroDegree teaches — be it the curriculum structure, and usage of examples — made students build their own projects during the course of their learning.

Following this course, he got a job as a front-end developer in Bengaluru. Highlighting the role of this course in career progression, he said recently he shifted to another company. “Had I not done this course, I would have opted for some non-IT jobs,” he said.