With the plethora of online education platforms in the market -- think the likes of Coursera, Udemy, SWAYAM - the number of courses is overwhelming. One is spoilt for choice. However, the San Francisco based online course company Springboard decided to opt for another route. It offers a total of six paid courses for professionals curated by industry leaders across different businesses like -- UX design, and software engineering. There are another 100 short term skill courses too but those are freely available for anybody to enrol.
Parul Gupta, Co-founder, Springboard, says it is a conscious choice. "It is based on Silicon Valley startup philosophy which focuses on solving one consumer problem extremely well and getting that product-market fit right," adds Gupta.
Springboard's paid courses are curated from various educational resources to create a six to nine-month-long program for early to mid-career professionals who want to kickstart their career into tech or want to learn fastest-growing emerging technologies.
Founded by Gupta and Gautam Tambay, the focus of this seven-year-old firm is not as much on academic but on project-based learning. For content, the company has partnered with the online learning platforms LinkedIn Learning and Datacamp.
Each candidate is assigned an industry practitioner as a mentor to help and guide the student through the course. The project work is designed to resemble the problems a candidate will be expected to do at the job.
"Recruiters today are not looking for degrees but candidates' body of work. The courses are designed to not just help learners acquire a skill but also build their portfolio of projects under the guidance of an industry expert," says Gupta.
She says the key differentiator is the mentorship and job placement support that Springboard offers. Mentors are industry practitioners in the job family that the student aspires. "Mentors provide the human touch that's missing in online education today. They do weekly calls with the learners, playing the role of the guide and the manager, giving feedback to learners and setting their work expectation right," she says.
Springboard has also designated career coaches to help students on the job application process, writing resumes and face interviews.
However, what catches the eye is its promise to refund the course fees in case the student fails to acquire a job after six months of graduating. Gupta adds, "It's to demonstrate how deeply we are invested in student success to enable them find the desired outcome". Since the introduction of the job guarantee programme, the learning platform has refunded three students out of 3,500.
The KPMG and Google report 'Online Education in India: 2021' pegs India's online education market to grow to a $1.96 billion industry by 2021 with a 9.6 million user base.
With offices in Bengaluru and the US, Springboard has got 15,000 students in over 100 countries around the globe, of which 80 per cent are in the US.
Springboard, in India, launched their first batch of three courses in March 2019 in data science. "We decided to offer limited number of courses to understand the differences required in the product for the Indian consumer as compared to the US," says Gupta.
With a community of 70 mentors, the online education firm now has 450 students who pay Rs 2 to Rs 2.5 lakh to learn data science (at one-third of its cost in the US). Springboard plans to launch two more courses in the next three months in design and software engineering. The firm is also working on online courses on the new job roles that will emerge due to automation.
Incubated by Microsoft, Springboard had raised total funding of $20 million. In December 2019, the startup raised $11 million in a post-Series-A funding round led by Reach Capital. Other investors in the startup are -- International Finance Corporation (IFC), Pearson Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, Learn Capital, and Blue Fog Capital.