Team Entri works on the philosophy that learning concepts are the best when done in native language.

Advantage local language How Kerala-based edu start-up is helping govt job aspirants
news Education Saturday, June 29, 2019 - 18:04

“Most government job aspirants know the pain of sitting through coaching classes and coming out of it fazed or disappointed,” begins 32-year-old Mohammed Hisamuddin. “Being engineers, we have experienced coaching. On average, only 5-6 out of the 60 students in the class truly benefit from it. We realised we could solve this problem with technology. It was our aim to help these public service aspirants achieve their dream.”

Software engineers Hisamuddin and Rahul Ramesh are the makers of ‘Entri’, a mobile application that provides text and video content to prepare for Public Service Commission exams in four regional languages – Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu.

The duo, who became friends in 2016 and created Entri the next year in Kochi, targeted it at public service aspirants who feel let down in mass coaching centres.

Why Entri?

With players like Byjus and Unacademy already doing well in the EdTech domain, Hisamuddin says the idea behind Entri to bridge the gap for regional language content for public service aspirants. “The number of students taking PSC exams every year was huge, even more than those appearing for JEE. That was a huge opportunity for us,” he shares.

Since most of these recruitment exams are about practicing a large number of questions, Entri tried to accumulate as many questions as possible in their database. That has also been their success story.

“To give you an idea, in the last four PSC exams in Kerala, around 40% of the questions in the exams were exactly the same as in our app; and around 80% questions were of similar pattern as found in our database,” Hisamuddin says. 

“We first started by providing a database of questions for these recruitment exams. It has been only four months since we added videos to the platform,” he adds. There are more than three lakh questions in the Entri database in local languages presently, and over 250 videos. It is also adding at least 25 videos a day to its repository. 

Entri also provides other resources – such as tutorials to learn MS Excel – in the local languages.

Need for regional languages in education and tech

When asked about the role that the state administrations can play, Hisamuddin was quick to point out that language-based politics is starting to grow these days.

“Though there is already a lot of noise around language-based politics in the south, when it comes to technology, it is still predominantly in English. However, on the consumer side, we see a boom in local language users of technology. We see a lot of traffic generated over social media and messaging platforms in Tamil and Malayalam,” he says.

Hisamuddin adds that this is the right time for the governments to focus on local language and push it in the technology that they, as well as people, use.

Further, unlike the focus for English medium education elsewhere, Entri’s emphasis on regional languages was justified by one of its 85 employees in this way: it is easier to think in one’s own mother-tongue than to force-feed something in English.

“It is not an easy job for us Indians to think in English. Though we might communicate in English, our thought process and subconscious mostly works in our native language. It is important for aspirants to learn the concepts perfectly since these are recruitment exams, and more often than not, aspirants have just one shot at it. So, we at Entri prefer to cater to the need for quality educational content in local languages,” he explained.

Present and the future

The app works on a freemium model – which means after a specific free use period, the user has to pay for accessing the content – priced at Rs 1,700 a year per language. Hisamuddin says that there are around nine lakh subscribers on Entri currently, which will hopefully hit 20 lakh by the end of the year.

Also a part of Boston-based EdTech accelerator LearnLaunch, Entri is currently funded by investors from India, USA and China who pushed $1.2 million into the startup in 2018. 

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