enguru - The English Learning App that is Making Youth More Employable

In today’s dynamic world, where everything and anything we want is at our fingertips, why would one want to take special coaching classes to excel in a particular field? It’s all available online and one such amazing self-learning English app is “enguru.” enguru is a mobile app that teaches English in regional languages, all the way from the basics to more complex job-specific functional English.

enguru Highlights

Startup Name enguru
Headquarter Bangalore
Co-founders Arshan Vakil & Udit Hinduja
Sector Ed-tech
Founded 2014
Parent Organization Kings Learning Private Limited
Website enguruapp.com

About enguru and How it Works
enguru - USPs
enguru - Target Market
enguru - Founders and Team
How was enguru Started
enguru - Name, Tagline and Logo
enguru - Startup Launch
enguru - Business Model and Revenue Model
enguru - Startup Challenges
enguru - Funding and Investors
enguru - Advisors and Mentors
enguru - Growth
enguru - Awards & Recognitions
enguru - Future Plans

About enguru and How it Works

Founded in 2014, by Arshan Vakil & Udit Hinduja, enguru English learning app is a self learning app, that aims to solve the problem of access to a high quality of English language training. enguru offers industry-specific English courses in over 12 different vernacular languages & has a focus on speaking through AI-enabled stimulated conversations.

This is also the only educational app that is available both on android and iOS and also the JioPhone – an extremely popular smart feature phone which has sold over 70 million devices in less than 2 years.

enguru makes learning easier as it starts teaching the users right from the basics up to more complex conversations. Users go through a placement test when they first use the app, which identifies their starting point. This test includes a combination of English proficiency and general preference questions including reasons for learning English and career aspirations etc.

The app course is split into 10-minute short modules. Each module consists of a lesson and a conversation or comprehension. Lessons comprise a variety of questions including image, text, audio and speech questions coupled with an adaptive algorithm that ensures questions are based on a user's past performance and career preferences. Conversations are based on workplace-specific scenarios that force users to speak into the app and provides feedback on their pronunciations.

enguru app screenshot
enguru app screenshot

Also, there are live classes that students can take. With live classes, enguru aims to provide their users with an even more personalized learning experience by connecting students from across the country with Cambridge qualified English teachers in an online group setting. The first live class is completely free. Students then subscribe to various plans by using enguru coins. enguru covers one topic a day at multiple times, thereby giving students the flexibility to choose a time slot as per their schedule.

enguru also partners with organizations across India to upskill their staff or students. This is done through a second app – enguru for enterprises – which is similar in most ways to the free B2C enguru app. Key differences include dashboard access to track and monitor user progress, customized programs based on organization needs, & operational support.

enguru - USPs

What differentiates enguru is the focus on employability which goes beyond just marketing collaterals as is the case with many of its competitors. Emphasizing on its USP, enguru CEO Arshan Vakil says-

One of the most important learning was to focus on immediate benefit through industry specific content. Our target audience likes to learn things that are directly related to their careers. Industry specific courses which allow them to learn functional vocabulary related to their jobs is critical in keeping them engaged and potential making them pay. This is something only we offer.
enguru app in Hindi
enguru app in Hindi

enguru - Target Market

There are over 400 million internet users in India with 250 million non-English speaking internet users. Non-English speaking internet users is expected to reach 550 million by 2021. enguru's core focus is on young adults between the ages of 15-34 which makes up 75% of internet users in India.

A recent report by Google & KPMG projected online education in India to grow at 52% to reach over USD 2 billion by 2021. The report included English language learning as a key category in online education in India.

enguru has two core target audiences within India. The primary target customers are young adults – college students, recent high school and college graduates looking for jobs and working professionals who are still relatively new to the workforce. More specifically, the focus is on young adults who are looking to enter fields like retail, automotive, hospitality, IT, BPOs, BFSI.

The secondary target audiences are general English learners, especially women. For housewives, English is aspirational and often also a way to create job opportunities.

enguru - Founders and Team

Arshan Vakil along with his friend Tahem Veer Verma started Kings Learning Private Limited (enguru's parent organization) in 2014. Tahem and Arshan were roommates at the University of Pennsylvania for 3 years and both lived in Mumbai from 2012-2014. They moved to Bangalore to start Kings Learning in February 2014. They recruited the head of content and programs, Laurie May from the UK and built the tech team starting with tech lead Sanju Kurian. In 2017, Tahem left Kings Learning to pursue higher studies  and Udit Hinduja joined the team in June 2017 as COO.

Presently, Arshan Vakil is the CEO of enguru. He graduated with a dual degree, cum laude, with a BSc in Economics from the Wharton School and BSc in System Science Engineering from Penn Engineering. Before founding enguru, he was working as a product manager and founding member (1st employee) at Hopscotch, an eCommerce company in Mumbai. At this time he also founded a mentorship initiative called Project Vahana, which helped underserved young adults get career ready. Having worked as a Product Manager and having a degree in System Engineering, he focuses a lot of his time on enguru's products. In addition to product management, he also leads all digital marketing, analytics, and finance.

Udit  Hinduja is the COO of enguru. He graduated with a B.A. in Economics & Politics from New York University in 2012. He then moved to Mumbai and worked at KPMG for a year and a half in their advisory practice. After KPMG, He worked at Micro Housing Finance Corporation (MHFC), an urban microfinance company that provides small-sized home loans to low-income families to help them buy houses. After 3.5 years at MHFC, he joined Arshan - his friend from school in Mumbai - at enguru as COO, where he oversees the entire B2B vertical - from sales to operations.

Arshan is tech-savvy and has a very clear vision around the product. As an engineer, he has a keen sense of how the app should look and feel, what features should add and product road map for the future. He also has a very analytical mind, so he understands user trends and makes data-driven decisions based on app metrics.

Udit loves delivering a premium service to clients and has a solid knowledge of what it takes to run a sustainable business. He handled the entire business side of enguru - client partnerships, operations, etc. His attention to detail and obsession with processes have allowed the company to scale up its enterprise partnerships & got them to close INR 2.5 core in revenue for FY 18-19, a 100% increase in FY 17-18 figures.

Currently, enguru has a team of 50 members. The company has an open, flat culture, where employees are empowered to learn & grow. They also offer several benefits to staff, including ESOPs, medical insurance & training.

How was enguru Started

enguru was started with a mission to ensure that access to English language training does not become an impediment to career opportunities. The idea is to provide affordable employability focused English language & communication skills training through innovative technology products and then helping link English speaking levels to appropriate job opportunities.

The idea of a self-learning app struck Arshan Vakil when he noticed how poor English training hampers career growth while working as a Product Manager at an e-commerce start-up and running a mentorship initiative for underserved youth. English was an impediment across the board- from the kids, they mentored in the program who were looking for basic entry-level positions in retail, hotels, etc. to Engineering graduates with whom he worked and struggled with internal communication. enguru co-founder, Tahem Verma, was already working in education and recognized how much students struggled with English due to the lack of focus on English training. This was the exact moment when they recognized there was a big opportunity here and a high latent demand for affordable English training. With the zeal to solve this problem, they launched enguru in 2015.

enguru is envisioned to solve the problem of access to high-quality English language training. English is the language of the workplace in India yet most students do not have access to good English language training, which hampers their career growth. The majority of Indian students study in their local languages with English just being one subject – they inevitably only learn to read and write English to pass exams and are not able to speak well, which is what is expected in the workplace. This issue is prevalent across various levels, right from engineering and medical students to industries like retail and hospitality. The need for an accessible and effective English learning tool across the spectrum cannot be debated. Our 30 million downloads with very little marketing are proof of this.

Arshan and Tahem began with an offline English Language business. The founders always knew that they wanted to go online but the initial approach was to understand the users, their needs for English, behavior patterns and access to technology, etc. One of the most important learning was to focus on immediate benefit through industry-specific content.

enguru app screenshot
enguru app screenshot

enguru– or English guru – came about to create a brand that resonated with the Indian audience. A “guru" is a revered figure in Indian culture, and they wanted to ensure that the users felt that they were learning English in a safe environment, from their English guru. The guru logo is inspired by a design Arshan saw on a t-shirt worn by his father.

enguru Logo
enguru Logo

enguru - Startup Launch

When enguru was launched in 2014, they started by teaching students English offline in their centers.

To get students to come to the centers, we used a combination of online marketing, SEO & leveraging interest from nearby educational institutes. Most people who visited our offline centers for classes were either working professionals or college students, most of whom found us online via Google searches or student referrals - Arshan says about the initial days of the startup

They enguru app was launched in early 2015 – first with only general English as a course and no regional language capability. They saw a massive increase in engagement when they added industry-focused courses and vernacular languages to the app as part of enguru 2.0. With enguru 3.0, they launched the popular conversation modules, which gets users to speak out into the app and practice various industry-focused scenarios (for eg. Greeting a customer in a retail outlet).

enguru - Business Model and Revenue Model

enguru currently has two apps - enguru spoken English app (B2C) and enguru for enterprises (B2B).

The B2C app has close to 30 million downloads and is available for free. In August 2019, enguru also launched live video classes on the app – this will be the primary source of monetization from the B2C app. Currently, users can book classes by using enguru coins earned through playing levels or by paying money. Live classes are still at a relatively nascent stage, so prices have been heavily discounted to gain initial traction.

The B2B app is used to partner with organizations in the retail industry (like Trent, Titan, Godrej Nature's Basket, Raymond, Manyavar, etc) to train their customer-facing staff. enguru charges per app license and offer staggered and bulk pricing options. Almost all of the revenue comes from these clients. Apart from retail, enguru also work with clients in other service industries like healthcare, hospitality, skilling centers, etc. to upskill their staff or students.

enguru is also available on the Jio Phone, the INR 1,500 feature phone launched by Jio in 2017. They are currently the only education app on the phone and have close to 22 million downloads on the device. They are not into monetizing this product at all.

Over the next 5 years, the aim is to monetize the B2C users through live classes and certification and at the same time building brand through B2B partnerships.

enguru - Startup Challenges

One of the major challenges they faced and continue to face is engagement on the app. Users download the app but don’t end up spending as much time as they’d like on completing levels. To increase this engagement, they keep reiterating the app.

enguru - Funding and Investors

enguru raised funding worth $2.5 million in September 2017.

Date Stage Amount Investors
September 2017 Pre-Series A $2.5 million Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Village Capital, Weihua Yan

enguru - Advisors and Mentors

The Board of Directors includes Mr. Weihua Yan, a Chinese-American investor who co-founded Diapers.com, which was acquired by Amazon.com in 2011. Mr. Rahil Rangwala, a director at the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, also advises the enguru team on the strategic direction.

enguru - Growth

With its head office in Bengaluru and offices in Mumbai and Delhi, enguru is operating Pan India. In FY 2018-19, the company earned a revenue of INR 2 crore. enguru has close to 30 million users across India and is adding 1.5 million every month. Besides, enguru has worked with over 150+ organizations across the country and have upskilled over 25,000 staff. Clients include Trent, Godrej Nature's Basket, Oberoi Hotels, Magic Bus India Foundation, NSDC, etc.

For the android app some key metrics are: Cumulative Downloads- 6,578,942, MAUs (Monthly Active Users)– 300,000, DAUs (Daily Active Users) – 25,000

For the JioPhone app, some key metrics are: Cumulative Downloads- 21,861,425, MAUs – 1.3 mn, DAUs –100,000

In B2B they have three primary programs – a completely app-based training program, a blended training program, and a teacher-led training program. Currently, they have 33 ongoing contracts – 8 online, 16 blended and 9 teachers led with 5,000 MAUs. ARPU( Average Revenue Per User) for a 3-month program is 500, 1710 and 2188 for online, blended and teacher-led programs respectively.

enguru - Awards & Recognitions

enguru's biggest achievement to date is being the only education app available on the Jio Phone, the INR 1,500 feature phone launched by Reliance. Over the past 2 years, the enguru app has been downloaded organically by 22 million people across India. Other major achievements include:

  • Village Capital: Winner of Education Cohort 2016 for the investment of $50,000
  • Reliance Jio GenNext: Selected to be part of the Winter 2016 Cohort.
  • Google Play App Excellence: Selected to be a part of the Class of 2019. The program is for early-stage startups, who demonstrate the potential to be drivers of quality and excellence in the apps they are building.

enguru - Future Plans

Over the next 5 years, enguru aims to monetize its B2C users through live classes and certification, while at the same time building the  brand through B2B partnerships. enguru envisions to be synonymous with affordable English learning in India. The goal is to be the best free accessible English learning tool in India- catering to the next billion users.

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About Chayanika Goswami

Chayanika is an MBA in Finance and a trained Digital Marketer. SEO and content writing are her hobbies turned profession. She is a rover. In her free time, she loves traveling and cracking jokes.
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