Notebook - An Edtech Company that is Making Learning Engaging and Fun

Startup Name Notebook
Headquarter Kolkata
Founders Achin Bhattacharya & Subhayu Roy
Sector EdTech
Founded 2018

Notebook - Introduction
Notebook - Industry Details
Notebook - Founders
Notebook - The Idea and starting up
Notebook - Name and Logo
Notebook - Product
Notebook - Revenue Model
Notebook - Funding
Notebook - Challenges
Notebook - Competitors
Notebook - Technology Used
Notebook - Advisors and Mentors
Notebook - Work Culture
Notebook - Future Plans
Notebook - Founders' Productivity Hacks

Notebook - Introduction

The Internet is steadily revolutionizing the Indian education system. Gone are the days when students used to pass hours in the library searching for that one reference book. Now every topic and every subject is available online. Further, with more and more Edtech companies coming up, both the teaching and learning process have become easier.

According to a recent report by Google, KPMG Online education in India is likely to grow by 8 times in the next five years.

Many Startups have come up in India with innovative ideas in the Edtech sector. Notebook is such an Edtech Startup based in Kolkata. Notebook’s vision is to enable access to high-quality education for every child. It strives to establish a benchmark in educational content quality for Indian school curricula.  

Notebook is guided by the following core beliefs:    

  • Every child is talented and equally capable.
  • Society will improve as a whole if only every child can be provided with access to high-quality education
  • At the end of the day, all learning is self-learning. If content can inspire curiosity, it would have served its purpose
  • Creativity inspires more creativity.

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Notebook - Industry Details

According to a report by Google and KPMG, the online education industry in India will grow from $247Million  to $1.96 billion by 2021, There are 260 million school students in India as per U-DISE reports. This provides a massive opportunity to deliver a high-quality product.  

According to Cisco, just as with the advent of mobile phone connectivity has seen exponential growth from 3% to almost 100%, likewise, the smartphone will increase the computer penetration from 12-13% to 60-70%. As such, with Smartphone now being affordable and available to everyone, online education is no longer dependent on the computer.

Notebook - Founders

Achin Bhattacharyya and Subhayu Roy are the founders of Notebook.

Achin worked as a Chartered Accountant prior to the inception of Notebook. He worked with some of the best consultancy firms in India and abroad. His last stint was with Deloitte as a Director, prior to which he worked with KPMG, PwC, GE and others, both in India and overseas. Achin takes care of overall strategy, content design and finance at Notebook.  

Subhayu did his Engineering from RVCE, Bangalore and his MBA from TAPMI, Manipal. He had worked with L&T in Construction, and then with OnMobile in Africa for 4 years setting up a mobile content business. He headed Perform Group (UK)’s South Asia business before leaving and starting up Notebook. Subhayu looks after Marketing, Technology and Product at Notebook.

Currently, there are 50 members in the Notebook team.      

Notebook - The Idea and Starting Up

It was over the course of a discussion that we realized that an ‘Over The Top (OTT)’ approach in education was possible.

In March 2017, Achin was visiting Subhayu in Delhi. They were having a general discussion on the various social evils present in society and how these evils can be eradicated through education. Subhayu was working in the Sports content space and was witnessing the OTT phenomenon. Soon the idea struck in their mind that they can make education easily available through OTT approach.

After this, Subhayu and Achin spent a year traveling across India and abroad – visiting students, teachers, universities, academicians across various places and different strata of the society to identify the pain points.

In March 2018, they started developing content, which they kept sharing with teachers and students at every step for feedback.  

In fact, we gave leaflets to schools, actively courting criticism!

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When we started out, we had a few names on the board to choose from. Given that we needed to be attractive to school students, we were thinking of names that were fun, tech-oriented, used intelligent wordplay.  

Finally, Achin and Shubhayu came up with the name ‘Notebook’. It was simple, direct and known.  Even in logo and colours, the company kept things the same way – simple and direct. The choice of the Golden yellow colour stood for excellence and it is also believed to be Goddess Saraswati’s colour.  

Notebook - Product

The product is a self-learning environment. In its current shape and form, it provides videos and textual content that explain topics from school syllabi. Notebook has started with CBSE and will be adding more boards soon. It is available on the web, Android app and iOS app.

Through its products Notebook aims to bring out the curiosity among students and engage them. As in class holding the students’ attention for a long time is a challenge for the teachers, Notebook has attempted to create the audio-visuals in such a way that seems interesting to the students. Currently the course available in Notebook is English for CBSE 8th, 9th and 10th standard. Study Notes and Solved Questions are also included in the course.

The platform also employs Machine Learning to offer personalized learning pathways to the students. The back end will keep learning through usage patterns and use them in the future to recommend content to students based on individual learning needs.  

Notebook - Revenue Model

Notebook is a subscription-based service operating on a Freemium model.

The company believes that its content quality is their greatest marketing asset. As such Notebook is offering part of the content for free.    

According to Achin and Suvayu, Notebook’s USP is the content and pricing strategy. The content design has been consciously done in a way that engages the student.  

We have devised an augmented storytelling technique that invites the student to imagine along with the video, and this shows great results in understanding and retention.  

Achin and Suvayu felt the necessity for the product to be made affordable to the average Indian parent, and this is what they have modeled into Notebook’s subscription. However, the company has not announced its pricing yet.

Notebook - Funding

Notebook is currently bootstrapped.  

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Notebook - Challenges

The greatest challenge faced was to establish a balance between content and pedagogy.  The content had to be comprehensive and yet crisp. The pedagogy had to be engaging without distracting. So there were quite a few balances to strike.  

Creating high-quality content ensuring that the students find it engaging and also which is easily memorable was a challenging task. However, Achin and Subhayu actively discussed the issues, expectations and requirements with the teachers and students across the country. On the basis of the feedback received, Notebook was able to come up with an easily comprehensible and memorable design for the content.

Support from family and friends is the highest asset during challenging times.

Both of us have been fortunate that our family and friends have believed in us right from the get-go. Every person we told about our decision felt that we were doing the right thing. It has been immensely encouraging to have so many people put their faith in us.

Notebook - Competitors

There are quite a few companies that are registered as ed-tech with the ROC. However, very few are known and regularly used by students. Byju’s has done an outstanding job in Maths and Science, and in building a self-learning habit. Others like Meritnation and Topper have been around for a while, and have their own content philosophies.  

We believe that our true competition is with rated content, pirated videos, and other distractions that the student today has access to.  

Notebook - Technology Used

Notebook operates on the Google Cloud and delivers video streams through the same pathway as Youtube. It has implemented best-in-class DRM to protect against piracy.

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Notebook - Advisors and Mentors

Notebook is growing under the active mentorship of -

Mr. Ashok Ganguly – Former Chairman, CBSE for 8 years.  

Dr. Mrs. Minakhi Das – Former Chief Controller of Exams, Odisha Board  

Notebook - Work Culture

I believe that the best way to treat any employee is to not treat him or her as an employee.  

The Notebook team is like a close-knit family where the team members continuously help and support each other. Notebook has provided accommodation facility to its team members who are from outside Kolkata. This is a caring gesture and it has helped to improve the work efficiency of the team members.

Notebook - Future Plans

It is just the beginning for Notebook, and Achin and Subhayu are planning to make things big. Notebook’s future plans include-

  • Creating content in 10 vernacular languages apart from English.
  • To provide educational aids for dyslexic and visually challenged students.
  • To bridge the gap in the school education system in different subjects and different boards.  

Notebook - Founders'Productivity Hacks

Both Subhayu and I have spent years in the Corporate world. Managing time effectively is second nature to us. We spend time and effort in finding the right people. Once we do, we empower them, trust them and watch as they take the lead on things.      

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Website - Notebook
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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 travelling and cracking jokes.