03 November 2015 13:31:55 IST

Just an 'into Africa' moment

Madhusudhan wants to make his start-up, Just Practicals, a leading player in vocational training

Far away from where the glamorous start-ups of India like Flipkart and others reside, there is a start-up that aspires to make it big in the education technology segment — it is called Just Practicals.

Located in Kalyan Nagar, Bengaluru, it was founded by AV Madhusudhan in May 2015. He believes they have already found a niche in the crowded education tech space. And what makes them stand apart from the many other start-ups in this segment, he believes, is their ‘different focus’.

“We aspire to be a leading player in practical vocational training across technical and management business streams for international students — especially for those in Africa and Middle East,” said Madhusudhan.

Madhu, as he is known, completed his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at Visveswaraya Technical University (VTU) and an MBA from BIMS college in Bengaluru.

All about the numbers

What’s the rationale behind pursuing business in Africa? He puts down the numbers — Africa, in 2020, is expected to have a collective GDP of $2.6 trillion, according to research by Global Insight, Arab Monetary Fund, African Development Bank and McKinsey Global Institute. Almost half of that GDP is expected to be Africa’s consumer spending, of which education ranks third in the list. Also, a lot of Africans go to places outside their country to pursue higher education, given the to lack of quality facilities in their region. These reasons pushed Madhusudhan to begin his venture. “I see this as an opportunity and a win-win situation for all stakeholders,” he says. Students get the latest courseware material and exposure to companies in India, which could enhance their prospects of getting employed either in India or their own country.

Just Practicals has chosen technology and business management as the two streams where students can be trained. The start-up also wants to change the existing practice, where a lot of African students do not find employment even after securing their degrees. “Our focus is on providing them jobs immediately once their course is completed,” he says.

The fees

Technology courses cost ₹1,80,000 a year or ₹20,000 per month, depending on the student’s learning comfort level. It covers both hardware and software. In the former, it certifies people working on Cisco and Linux certifications. In the latter, it covers .NET, Java, SQL and website designing.

Business management courses cost roughly the same, annually, but monthly , are priced at ₹16,000. The basic course covers HR, marketing and finance disciplines.

Just Practicals has a vertical focus on the courses, with specific modules for education, healthcare, manufacturing and agriculture. In addition, it also teaches basic and advanced English, with courses designed by in-house executives as well as industry experts. Currently, the company has trained around 100 students in less than five months of being in the business. Madhu believes it can easily double, at the pace it is going . Seven out of 10 students opt for the tech courses, Madhusudhan says.

Prior to this, Madhusudhan founded two start-ups in the education segment — Incredu (into online tuitions) and D2R (Dream to Reality programmes for school kids).


The company is currently bootstrapped and Madhusudhan says he is looking for seed funding of ₹5 crore. “With that investment, we can kick-start our plans of venturing into other African countries. Currently, we train students in Congo, and have tied up with two universities.

With some capital infusion, we are confident of setting up 100 centres there by 2020. However, the business model is not restricted to tie-ups with universities — we are also working on developing an app that would help students learn from their phones,” he says. They are also looking at tying up with corporates in the region, who are going global with their business.

Future sights

Ivory Coast and Kenya are next on his horizon and Madhusudhan is confident of sealing partnerships by the first half of 2016. Similarly, in West Asia, it has partnerships with Mezzen Holdings, which manufactures and distributes FMCG and pharmaceutical products.

Despite the market potential, Africa continues to be a tough market to crack. Some Indian corporates are still struggling to make headway, despite making acquisitions and integrating with the local business environment.

Can Just Practicals overcome these hurdles? Only time will tell.