Call it backward integration. The company that built Naukri.com, the top job portal of India, is looking at a new growth engine in education. Naukri's parent company, Info Edge, has expanded a listing site that it started in May 2008 for students looking for options in higher education.
Shiksha.com is now a portal also offering advice, from mentors as well as peers. "We were not clear what the product would eventually be. We wanted to take it to the next level after giving it a final shape," says Hitesh Oberoi, Managing Director and CEO of Info Edge.
So if you are a high school student looking for the courses you want at the graduate level, the dates of important examinations ahead or just want advice on how to go about becoming an animator, Shiksha promises to have it all. The focus now is on professional courses.
"The site has now come into focus because it is getting a lot of traction. And, of course, the macro picture is that education today is big business," says Oberoi, who took over as the CEO from Sanjeev Bikhchandani in July 2010. Oberoi says the portal gets close to 700,000 visitors every month. The company is not targeting the 10,000 or so students who get into the top institutes. There is a gap in terms of people requirement beyond these students.
"Our market is the millions beyond those who make it to the top institutes," says Oberoi. In fact, one of the biggest areas of growth for the portal is distance learning - students looking for reskilling and part-time MBA courses.
The company is also rolling out a new Naukri.com site for the mobile platform. "We don't expect great things to happen in mobile in the first few months, but there is a lot of action in the segment," says Oberoi.
Unlike Naukri or even realty portal 99acres, Shiksha as a brand is not visible. According to Oberoi, the lack of visibility for the brand has been deliberate. "We have been working on the model and hence we have not built the brand so far. Also, the investment so far has been more in product development," he says.
The company has invested Rs 16 crore in the portal in the last two years, but it is not expected to make money very soon. "Shiksha is not yet adding to the top-line. The future investment will go into brand building and marketing," says Oberoi.
Shiksha is attracting 400-500 questions every day. "It is like a Wikipedia being built on education queries," says Oberoi. The portal is also building a network of mentors. Shiksha also allows education institutes to make a listing. "We have already signed up with close to 800 institutes across India. We are also looking at institutes abroad," says Oberoi.