It is our constant endeavour to identify and share some of the unique and compelling stories from the startup ecosystem. As part of this, we invited passionate entrepreneurs Joyati and Beas for an interview with BrilliantRead Media. They are the co-founders of Wise Owl Learning. Let’s learn more about their background, their inspiring journey so far and their advice for our growing community!
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with them :
We are aware of your contribution to the ecosystem, talk us through your background and your journey as a women entrepreneur;
Beas is a Sociologist. She started working in the field of education policy and program implementation for 15 years.
She has done it all – starting from framing education policies for the Ministry of Education to implementing the policies at the grassroots levels in rural and remote schools. Beas felt that less opportune students are as ready as their urban counterparts to receive a quality education.
Joyati is an Engineer and had a different life. She worked in the industries looking after quality control and setting up quality systems.
Later she went to live in many different countries and got to see the best of the school education systems of Asia, USA and Europe very closely. She always wanted to bring all best practices to India, but for ‘all’ students – in the very simple and true sense of the word.
Beas and Joyati have been friends and family for 30 years. The idea of #equalopportunity education was discussed repeatedly: first casually, gradually and spontaneously there was more and more focus.”
One day in January 2020 passion overtook all seemingly impossible hurdles and Wise Owl Learning was born.
What attracts you towards entrepreneurship instead of a corporate career?
Beas and I – both have worked regular jobs. Beas in the development sector and I’m in process plant shop floors.
Entrepreneurship is much like motherhood. The pain and pleasure of making something on your own are unmatched. The journey is long and arduous but the small and big moments of reward keep us moving.”
The cherry on top, we get to work with young students, that pumps a lot of energy into us. So does the regular travel to the hills of Northeast India. Also, we can actually see and feel the impact that we are trying to make – that’s something very exciting.
‘Wise Owl Learning’ is such a unique name; talk us through more about it, please. Our audience would also love to know what kind of problem you are solving?
In rural India
73% of students in grade 8 do not have the basic reading skills
56% of students in grade 8 cannot perform simple division
* Source of data: ASER 2018
India’s existing K12 ecosystem is ineffective and has long-needed disruption. The traditional method of linear teaching is not received equally by all students leading to widening learning gaps.
While EdTech can deliver targeted high-quality education, it is not available in rural and remote areas and to less privileged children. This is creating inequality in education and in turn, affects the socio-economic development of the nation.
We aim to provide equal opportunity in education to all students. We make world-class education accessible to less privileged students, who are otherwise left behind, increasing their chance to succeed.”
Our subject resources are mapped to 21st-century skills allowing students to develop a deep understanding of sustainability, equity, conservation, and kindle critical thinking. Targeted quality education ensures that the learning gap is bridged, increasing the prospects of higher education, vocational or mainstream.
Going forward students have increased chances of employability and better livelihood leading to positive social and economic impact.
What does your company specialize in?
Our company specializes in delivering world-class education using edtech and community connection. I think this is unique.
EdTech is seen as ‘personal’ so connecting EdTech to the community is something no one has done before. This may be the first in its kind, but this is so necessary as we want to build an educated society – not unconnected educated individuals.
During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?
Online learning was one of the major industries that flourished during a pandemic. We started out planning for our product when there was no idea about the pandemic. Anyway, when our product was released in the middle of 2021, online learning was already a regular part of life.
Now, we did not change our philosophy because the pandemic hit. We want to deliver experiential learning, so Both EdTech and community connections are equally important for us. What we did is to moderate our learning resources so that experiments and research projects could be carried out at home with home-based materials. The collaboration part was taken care of by sharing best practices among teachers and students.”
We used to work closely with teachers, understand their requirements in that challenging time and make resources that would help them transform on-camera teaching to interactive online teaching-learning.
WhatsApp was the mode of most communication; our team was actively engaged with schools and teachers’ groups catering to their needs.
In your opinion, what are the keys to success?
Both founders of Wise Owl Learning believe that we look best when we do what we are best at.
We are an EdTech company, so education and technology are our prime focus, and it will always remain so.
We will also work on marketing, fund-raising, or PR, but would never place them ahead of what our company is meant to do – that is delivering world-class education.
Setting our priorities has made things easier for us. As a startup we work with just enough resources – staying focused helps us a lot in staying afloat and moving ahead.
What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?
It’s a mixture of conflicting advice.
“Follow your passion” may be romantic, but as a parent, we know it can be scary. Finding our own passion is not easy, many of us take a very long time to find our true passions.
So, too much focus on quickly finding a passion may backfire. Often small children overlook the hard work and focus on the name and fame of the trade. We have an established education system that we must follow. Some may find it easy; some may struggle, but we can ‘not’ pass the boards.
We can follow our passion when we have gained some stability and maturity. In most cases, we see that people’s education and career have very little connection. What we take away from school education is the spirit of learning, a positive attitude, and an open mind – that makes the pathway for a successful career.