uFony (pronounced euphony- a pleasurable sound), founded in 2012, is a software product company focused on improving the academic and intellectual skills for children.
It is a well-known fact that an effective communication and active collaboration between parents and teachers have a significant impact on child’s performance and education at school. Keeping this in mind, Ufony Services Private Limited, focused on improving the academic and intellectual skills for young children, has launched ‘School Diary’.
School Diary is a mobile-first platform that enables parents to obtain timely updates, review the progress of their ward as well as monitor child’s safety on their smartphone in real time.
It includes timely alerts (notices, almanac updates, fees and event reminders), child’s progress trackers (activity pictures, homework, attendance reports, performance reports), school happenings alerts (Noticeboard) and child safety trackers (live bus tracker and authorize people for pickup) while bus is in transit and much more; on their smartphones and right when they need to see it.
Ashish Chaturvedi, Founder & CEO of uFony, being a young curious parent, realized that he wasn’t getting frequent & timely updates from his child’s school. To make matter worse, the little information that was coming from school was scattered over multiple mediums.
He was getting SMS, emails, printouts, diary notes, phone calls & discovering stuff while dropping the child at the bus stop. And most of the time the information was delayed.
On the other hand, his wife, being a school teacher, was having a hard time keeping 30 parents of her class informed about the well-being of children. She was writing diaries, sticking print notes, calling and what not but still felt like a punching bag for the parents.
“I offered a simple smartphone solution to broadcast information quickly and she liked it. She took me to the principal and we got our first pilot going” says Ashish Chaturvedi.
The phrase “I will start a company one-day creating 10,000 jobs” initially meant to look cool among the engineering classmates at HBTI Kanpur. All were busy vying cozy jobs with multinationals. However, he kept repeating the ambition to himself over the years and it soon became part of his life.
Not cleared about what idea to pursue, he kept discussing with his colleagues at Infosys. where he worked for good 10 years in tech, commercial and planning functions.
He kept bringing entrepreneurship and his goals up during informal conversations with his colleagues at AT&T, P&G, and Verizon USA. After giving a coveted job at IIM Calcutta worth more than 1 crore, he stands here as an entrepreneur happily giving jobs to more than 30 people.
School Diary operates on a SaaS model and charges schools for the services. Pursuing the freemium model, the schools can enjoy the basic features for free. While they have to purchase a license to leverage the premium features for their schools.
Current metrics show a good initial traction for the startup with crossing more than 48,000 users and 82,00,000 notifications. The service currently is used by more than 430 schools and enabling more than 50,000 interactions on a daily basis.
The majority of the schools in India aren’t tech savvy or have bitter experiences with ERPs. To gain confidence was a bit tough job. The free basic that covered the basic needs helped the schools to try out the services which brought a lot of schools on board.
The founder says “We deployed legs on grounds to cover a wide geography. It helps us to scale to different geographies. We also focused on service element where the majority of solutions including ERPs fail. Every call of the client had to be answered in a satisfactory manner. We ensured we are touching back to every client every 15 days. This created a lot of positive good will for us leading to reference generation.”
Breaking down to the calendar, let us summarize the journey of School Diary. Between December 2012 and January 2013, the startup raised an undisclosed amount of funding from TCA. February 2014 led to the launch of the website and the android app. Till July 2014, the startup bagged its very first customer. By December 2014, the startup raised first invoice expanding its base to more than 947 users in 2 cities.
In July 2015, the startup received another round of investment from TCA and bags K-12 schools into its customer base. November 2015 witnessed some recruitment including sales executives leveraging more than 5000 users in 4 cities. Grabbing 5 new investors in till December 2016, the startup is scaled to 12 cities with over 48000 users and 5 channel partners.
During the journey, Ashish ran out of money twice. Still, he continued as he was confident with his idea. He knew that his services were solving an important problem for parents and teachers. Let me tell you that this is a well researched and documented fact that close involvement of parent’s in child’s education has a positive impact on child’s learning, social behavior, and overall growth.
There are dreams yet to be achieved by Ashish. The future plans include expansion to Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and leverage technology to engage parents, in even the remotest part of the country, in their child’s learning.
“To scale up we are looking for more feet on the ground including channel partners & agents. We are also looking at digital marketing strategies to promote School Diary to the international markets” says Ashish.
Education is a recession proof industry. Look around, people study in a good economy as they can see a good future and they study when the economy goes south as they see education as a tool to upgrade skill and excel in a tough market.
To add for a parent, School Education of their child is both emotional and aspirational. Parents do whatever it takes to ensure the child gets a quality education. But those are rational reasons. The real motivator for us is that the Education industry gives us an opportunity to add value to a child’s growth and that’s immensely satisfying.
“Perseverance is the key. If you persevere long enough and are smart (which I assume you are since you chose entrepreneurship over a routine career) enough to adjust as per market needs then you will succeed. Your journey will have bumps and will be long but just keep playing and you will find success around the corner” Ashish advice to budding entrepreneurs.