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One Step Up founder Shiv Dewan

Solving a puzzle: How One Step Up is helping students get a grip on their careers

23 October, 2017

Choosing the right career can be difficult, and confusing, because no single work boot meets the requirements of all. What’s more, seeking guidance to help make an informed choice for a successful transition from elementary school to high school, from high school to graduation, and from the university to charting a successful career path, could be equally difficult and confusing.

A Delhi-based entrepreneur, however, sees a huge opportunity in this confusion plaguing aspirational young minds – and is trying to solve the career puzzles for students.

“I was extremely confused through school – studied science, moved to commerce, thought about law, tried playing squash, and finally went to an IIM, where I thought banking was going to be the job for me. Two internships later, I joined NDTV. Four years into it, I felt that I should have designed the path better, and ended up going on my own with One Step Up in 2009,” says Shiv Dewan, founder and CEO of One Step Up.

Dewan deals with the good, the bad and the ugly of the job world. “We try to help students understand themselves so they can fit into this jigsaw which is professional life.”

Business model
Run by One Step Up Education Services Pvt. Ltd, the career counselling startup helps students evaluate careers, subjects and their abilities through both online and offline channels. Operating on a business-to-business model, it has so far partnered with 62 schools across 13 cities to offer their services to students.

The company engages with students and their parents in classrooms and offers programmes on academic research using a combination of videos, trained instructors and student interaction. “We carry out research, shoot videos and offer content through apps. We analyse a student’s abilities using a data-driven approach and machine learning for hyper-personalisation,” explains Dewan.

The classroom programme, which is conducted in a group of 40-90 students, costs Rs 1,000 per student. One Step Up has served 10,000 students so far.

Even though 98% of One Step Up’s total revenue comes from the B2B channel, the company is set to don a B2C avatar as the demand for individual counselling grows. “Technology allows us to stay in touch and is driving our conversion to a B2C company. Many students opt for individual counselling and that’s the model we are aggressively chasing,” he says.

“When a student walks into our office, we have to spend longer time. Therefore, the costs are more, at Rs 5,000 per student for a session. We are looking to find strategic partners as we move from being a B2B company to a B2C organisation,” he adds.

The company had recently raised Rs 2.2 crore ($336,600) in a round led by book publisher Orient BlackSwan, and an individual investor, to build content, hire talent, strengthen its backend technologies and for advertising.

Competition
Like most other disciplines, India’s online education industry is also going online, and is expected to grow at eight times to hit $1.96 billion by 2021. The number of paid users are also set to rise six-fold from 1.6 million to 9.6 million over the next five years, says a joint report by search giant Google and consultancy firm KPMG.

The increasing use of technology in education has led to the mushrooming of a number of ed-tech startups. The sector has also attracted significant amount of venture capital funding. Even though ed-tech firms are targeting the younger generation, such startups are yet to hit the right emotional note with parents, who are still the decision makers when it comes to career choices for children.

“Instead of pure-play online approach like any other ed-tech startup in the country, our hybrid model is key and helps build a trust factor. The school knows you, the parent knows you and this becomes extremely important for an education firm in India,” says Dewan.

To drive traffic, One Step Up also spends a lot of time with the parent groups to establish a connect. “We realised that children do not make choices…so striking the right note with schools and parents are important,” he adds.

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Solving a puzzle: How One Step Up is helping students get a grip on their careers

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