Rural education services firm Hippocampus aims to double presence in 6 months

Bangalore-based Hippocampus Learning Centres Pvt Ltd (HLC), which offers education services to rural children, is aiming to expand its low-cost learning centres to 500 by June next year, according to a report published by The Economic Times, citing a top company executive.

The startup, which delivers pre-school and kindergarten programmes, will launch these centres across Karnataka and Maharashtra.

This would more than double its presence. Hippocampus operates 232 learning centres in Karnataka with a student base of over 8,000.

The company currently offers over 15,000 titles, covering 48 subjects and seven languages, with an aim to create reading habit among rural children. The titles include classics, hobby books, general knowledge, fiction, folktales, adventure, fairy tales and graphic novels.

The firm has also rolled out its service for standard 1-5 in existing private schools in the villages where they operate in Karnataka. Under the programme, it develops curriculum, recruits and trains teachers and even manages parents. It has tied up with 40 schools so far.

The firm, which has over 450 teachers, will help conduct classes in two such schools and aims to reach out to three more schools by next year.

Hippocampus was founded in 2011 by Umesh Malhotra, who holds a B Tech degree in Metallurgy from IIT Madras. Prior to setting up the education venture, Malhotra founded Bangalore Labs, which worked in the remote infrastructure management space. Earlier, he was business manager at Infosys.

Last year, the company had raised Rs 14.4 crore led by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Existing investor Unitus Seed Fund also put money in that round along with another new investor Khosla Impact Fund.

Earlier in 2014, Hippocampus had raised $600,000 (Rs 3.7 crore) from Unitus Seed Fund besides existing investors Acumen Fund and Lok Capital.

Another such venture is Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operates pre-schools in underprivileged areas in urban Hyderabad. It had raised Rs 30 lakh ($50,000) from Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF), an education fund run by UK-based education company Pearson Plc.

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