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In Interview with Amit Bansal, Founder & CEO, WizKlub

1. Tell us about your company. When was the company founded? Who were the founders? Tell us more about their backgrounds. 

WizKlub is an education company focussed on building a generation of smart thinkers. This is the third venture in education for this team. WizKlub started in early 2018. 

The earlier 2 ventures were in the higher education space where the team worked with over 50,000 engineering students across India. We realized that with students at that stage, while we could create an impact by skilling students on specific tools, the basic aptitude of a student is pretty much cast in stone and cannot be changed significantly. So, if a student does not have programming aptitude, one cannot be trained to become a good programmer.

More research established that the core aptitude of a person which defines one’s suitability for different career roles is pretty much defined in the first 13-14 years. And unfortunately, the Indian schooling system is still focused on curriculum, instead of focusing on core aptitude that makes one smart learner and adept problem solver. We decided to address this issue by providing a scientific program to build these skills when the age is right. We worked on the product for 6 months including prototyping and pilots before a formal launch in June 2018. Our product has an 83% efficacy rate which is quite remarkable for a learning product.

The co-founders have worked together in the two earlier EdTech Ventures. 

Amit Bansal, CEO & Founder of WizKlub

Amit Bansal, CEO & Founder of WizKlub

Amit Bansal is the CEO & Founder of WizKlub. He is a serial entrepreneur with over a decade of start-up experience across three edtech ventures; and 10 years of corporate experience across strategy, business development, technology, product management, and marketing for consumer and enterprise technology products across India and North America. His earlier ventures include Xcelerator and PurpleLeap.  Amit holds an MBA in Marketing from XLRI, Jamshedpur.

2.Tell us more about Cognitive skill development for kids? 

Let’s refer to the famous Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning (or cognition) for understanding this better. Whenever a student is learning something new, the student can operate at various levels of learning as defined by Bloom’s Taxonomy. At the bottom is the ability to remember and recall the information. After that is the ability to use that information productively to solve problems, make decisions and create new work. All these skills, other than memory and recall, are called Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) and are largely responsible for making a student a smarter learner and adept problem solver. 

Most students who do not develop these skills in the elementary years, rely on Rote Memorization as a primary method of learning and solving problems. Such students struggle to do well in high stake exams and rewarding careers that require HOTS.

The best time to develop higher cognition functions is by the age of 13-14 years as brain plasticity is high and skills acquired during this period become a natural part of an individual. In this age, one of the good ways to develop HOTS is to provide stimulus in respective areas of Comprehension, Critical Thinking, Logical Thinking, Creativity, and Problem Solving. Each of these areas has to be developed in order to ensure that kids acquire the necessary skills to succeed in the coming decade. If kids don’t get the requisite inputs to develop these skills, they get used to learning and solving problems by Rote.

3. What do you think about Smart thinking and coding for technology building, not just consumption?

We all know that technology is disrupting practically every industry and the most rewarding roles in this decade and beyond would involve the usage of technology to solve new problems. Even leading organizations like the World Economic Forum in their Future of Jobs Report talk about the usage of technology as one of the top skills in 2025. 

This generation of kids is surrounded by technology. They can either grow up to be just a consumer of technology and be the slaves or can develop a perspective to be the master of technology and use technology to create products and solutions that solve real-world problems. 

Now, the key question to be answered is: how do you make a kid to be a master of technology and not a slave. It involves 2 important aspects: 

  1. A tech perspective that makes a kid look at technology around from the eyes of a creator 
  2. Skills to eventually use technology to create products and solutions 

The tech perspective can be built by getting the kids to start using technology to create real products early in life. This involves kids understanding the design, coding, and hardware aspects of building a tech product. 

Skills are essentially the same as Higher Order Thinking Skills such as logical thinking, creative thinking and complex problem solving that are necessary for creating products/solutions to solve real-world problems. 

Just having tech know-how is not enough. The tech know-how needs to be nurtured to become tech perspective and that combined with the right HOTS empowers a kid to be the innovator of tomorrow.  

Our SmartTech program is designed to build a tech perspective by empowering the kid to “Build and Code” real technology products. For instance, a 7-year-old can make a Smart Lighting system and code it to create the patterns of choice on the smart light. The next month, the kid can create a gesture-controlled remote control for the smart light and program the behavior of various gestures. Every month, the kid builds and codes a tech product that they see around in real-life. During the course of this program, the kid learns to program and control various technologies that they have been seeing as a consumer-like Alexa, Mobile Apps, and Smart IoT Devices.

4. Tell us more about the industry and the competition in this particular segment. It would be great if you can share some market trends in the industry.

K-12 Market 

The k-12 market can be largely broken into 2 segments. One segment caters to the curriculum support (Math, Science) and has players like Byju’s, Topper, Vedantu, etc. Most of the parents in this segment start shopping for solutions in grades 7-8. The other segment is the early year’s segment where the parent is looking for programs beyond the school curriculum. This segment is by and large fragmented and suffers from a lack of quality solutions. WizKlub is catering to the early years market and is offering affordable solutions that impart quality experience at scale.

The parents of early year kids have realized that just the school curriculum is not enough to make their kids prepare for a future that is changing so rapidly. Most parents are discovering the importance of future skills. Earlier, parents of early years kids would send their kid to a neighborhood class for drawing or handwriting, or to learn abacus. Now, that investment is changing to more meaningful programs that promote logical, creative, or critical thinking, technology skills and prepare them for the future. 

There are a lot of companies that have mushroomed to provide coding classes for kids. Some parents are even forcing their children to learn coding languages like Python or Java, hoping that learning these languages will ensure a bright future. However, the need of the hour is to prepare a kid holistically with the underlying skills and not worry about learning a programming language. These programming languages would be extinct by the time kids of this generation would join the workforce. What would remain is the underlying skills like logical, creative, critical thinking, and a tech perspective that would allow them to create solutions to complex problems. 

Future of EdTech: 

The use of technology has traditionally been low in the education sector. 

The challenge was the mindset of educators and the parents who always believed that the age-old method of chalk-and-talk still is the best way to impart education. 

In the post-COVID era, we expect that to change. COVID has practically taken away the traditional classroom for some time. Hence, parents are forced to explore e-learning methods and educators are forced to innovate and provide meaningful solutions. We expect that by the end of the COVID restrictions, more than 50% of the kids in affected areas would have experienced one or the other form of e-learning. Any parent who witnesses the power of personalized learning enabled through technology, would definitely continue using the same even when the traditional classroom returns. 

We expect that by the end of the COVID restrictions, more than 50% of the kids in affected areas would have experienced one or the other form of e-learning. Any parent who witnesses the power of personalized learning enabled through technology, would definitely continue using the same even when the traditional classroom returns.

5. What kinds of challenges have you faced in getting the company started and in the subsequent time period? How did you overcome these difficulties? Are there any takeaways from them which can help in furthering the growth of your company?

I don’t think we faced challenges much different from what any other start-up faces or what we faced in our earlier start-ups. The typical challenges of getting the right product-market fit, finding ways to acquire customers in a profitable manner, and then scaling operations while maintaining the key business metrics. 

Some of the challenges were peculiar to our domain. One such challenge that we faced initially was that the product was delivering results in terms of improved learning and problem-solving aptitude but ONLY those parents who were involved with their kids’ learning journey were able to witness the results. The involved parents could see that the child has become an active reader, is able to get the larger picture, able to connect information, is asking intelligent questions, is more inquisitive, is not scared of unseen problems, which was not the case before joining the program. However, the other set of parents was not able to appreciate the difference as they were expecting results in terms of visible output. We solved this problem by demonstrating the improvement on the world’s most popular IQ test for children, WISC (Weschler’s Intelligence Scale for Children). We were able to demonstrate similar efficacy of 85% improvement on the third-party assessment WISC as well.

6. Tell us about your journey so far, and tell us about your current team

The start-up journey is a mixed bag. There is great joy in creating something that has never been done before. The nearly no boundary makes you extremely agile and respond to the environment almost real-time. On the other hand, the lack of support structures makes day-to-day operations difficult. What you take for granted in a corporate environment, does not exist in a startup most of the time. 

The most important aspect of the startup environment is the team that you work with. We love working with each other and enjoy solving problems that we encounter. Since the team has worked together in two earlier ventures, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We know the areas where we don’t need to worry about and also the blindspots for each other. More than anything else, I guess the team has faith and trust in each other that each one of us is working for the larger purpose and not for ourselves.

7. What are the strengths of your Company?

WizKlub programs are designed to build future-ready skills, bring out the best in every child.  At WizKlub, we evoke possibility, ease of learning, wonder, and curiosity, so kids gain new insights and a new lens of perception and possibility.

The strength of the company is to use technology in innovative ways to impart a great learning experience for the children. The core team has been in the field of education for over a decade and has a deep understanding of how to deliver high-quality learning experiences at scale. 

8. How do you think your product/company can help people?

Our products ensure that this generation of kids is totally equipped for the future. Whether it is the skills required for rewarding careers or to cope up with the environment, our programs ensure that kids are on top of their game. 

WizKlub Programs are designed to ensure holistic cognitive development across Critical, Logical and Creative Thinking, and also build the necessary technology perspective with exposure to skills like coding and robotics in early childhood itself.  All WizKlub programs deliver a personalized learning environment for maximum interest and learning efficacy and we have delivered over 100,000 hours of learning to students across the world. 

WizKlub programs are designed to build future-ready skills, bring out the best in every child.  At WizKlub, we evoke possibility, ease of learning, wonder and curiosity, so kids gain new insights and a new lens of perception and possibility. 

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