Interview
Mindler's aim is to standardise the highly fragmented career counselling space in India.
Mindler CEO Prateek Bhargava

Career counselling in India is a huge addressable market as currently India needs a minimum of 1.4 million career counsellors to maintain a globally acceptable student to school counsellor ratio. While a few national boards have mandated schools to have counsellors, over 93% schools in India don’t have a professional counsellor on board. There is urgent need of career counsellors at the school level in India.

Mindler is an edutech startup in the career counselling space that aims to revolutionise the unorganised career counselling sector in the country.

It has recently launched the Mindler Partner Platform (MPP), a unique online platform that aims to organise and standardise the highly fragmented career counselling space by bringing counsellors from across India under one roof in a bid to systemise the entire sector. It aims at creating an ecosystem for career counsellors all over India, largely aimed at underserved smaller cities and towns.

In an interaction, Prateek Bhargava, Founder & CEO of Mindler spoke about various aspects including the current scenario of career counselling in India, MPP expansion plans and roadmap for next five years. 

Here are excerpts. 

What is the current scenario of career counselling space in India and what are the challenges?

A government survey of over 150,000 households across India between April and December of 2015 showed some startling data – a highly educated Indian youth is more than five times as likely to be unemployed as an uneducated one. Nearly 35% of Indian youth who possess graduate degrees and above are unemployed, while relatively uneducated young workers (6.2% unemployment) are doing much better. This clearly points to the fact that there is a serious mismatch between skill building and contemporary jobs. Timely career guidance can help bridge this gap.

That India has a counselling-deficit education sector is a critical challenge. We have around 1 lakh professional career counsellors compared to the need for 15 lakh career counsellors to cater to 315 million strong student market. In comparison, the US has about 2.6 million student counsellors for 56 million students.

Career Counselling is only now beginning to gain the recognition it deserves and is witnessing exponential growth as a profession. While the developed nations have recognised the criticality of career counselling, and  a vast number of progressive schools in India are also waking up to the fact, over 90% of Indian schools still do not have career counsellors and there is a shortage of nearly 14 lakh trained career counsellors in the country.

Market size and expected growth

The market size for career assessment and guidance is currently estimated at over Rs 5,000 crore* in India and continuously growing. Developing economies are increasingly appreciating the impact of career counselling in aligning students with the right options and thus contributing towards nation building. 

(*A recent estimate based on reports from Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, EY Report on K12 Education and KPMG market report on K12 education.)

Expansion plans for Mindler Partner Platform (MPP)

At Mindler, our aim is to revolutionise the unorganised career counselling sector in India and make scientific career guidance accessible to millions of students across the country. With vision to create a collaborative platform which drives access of scientific tools to each and every student, we recently launched the Mindler Partner Platform (MPP).

In a short span of 12 months, MPP has a presence in over 30 cities! The next step of our plan is to partner with local counsellors/ establish our local presence by training and certifying career coaches in the region. Students can make use of the best career guidance planning experience including comprehensive career assessments, authentic career information, curated career blogs, automated college mapping and exam shortlisting tools. 

We are already creating a pool of certified career coaches through our International Certified Career Coach Program who then lead the Mindler Partner Platform in their respective regions. We are also working on training and certifying school managers, principals and counsellors so as to help bring a curriculum approach to career guidance in their schools in cities across India.

We at present have partners working in Manipur, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad who are giving credible and reliable advice to students in their regions using our MPP. 

Launch of MPP in other countries

Mindler is rapidly expanding in the Middle East and we’re already institutionalising our career guidance programs in schools in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. We’re also exploring partnerships in Qatar, Bahrain and Oman with large number of local partners expressing interest. I’m confident that with the completion of the program, many participants will utilise the Mindler Partner Platform to provide their students with career clarity. Going forward, we are also taking this ahead in South America and Africa. 

Some highlights of your career guidance platform

  • World’s first SAAS platform for counsellors to help them scale their practice
  • Powered by the world’s largest research on modern career avenues and recognised by global bodies
  • Facilitating real-time mapping to careers followed by online activities and preference exploration to help students identify their best-fit path
  • India’s first machine learning driven career guidance platform which is being used both by students and counsellors
  • Automated roadmap and college mapping tool
  • One-stop destination for end-to-end career guidance – for studies in India, and overseas
  • Facilitating training for budding career counsellors through the flagship International Certified Career Coach Program

What kind of tie-ups do you have? Are you working with the government? 

Last year, Mindler launched International Certified Career Coach Program (ICCC) – a three-month international certification course for career counsellors, in collaboration with the Career Development Alliance (USA). Through this program, we have been able to associate with multiple counsellors and school educators, and are leveraging the Mindler Partner Platform to collaborate with them.

Mindler is working with some of the leading schools across the country, including but not limited to CMS Group of Schools, Welham Boys’ School, La Martiniere Girls’ School, Greenwood High, Hyderabad Public School and The Sanskar Valley School. We are rapidly expanding our footprint in Middle East as well through school association as well as Mindler Platform associations.

Working with the government has always been on top of our agenda. We already have a couple of projects running with state governments (like Jammu & Kashmir and Telangana) and the response has been brilliant. We have multiple more partnerships in the pipeline.

Fund-raising plans and roadmap for next 5 years

We are in talks with a few institutional investors to raise funds. There are a few planned initiatives that would need some external capital to grow and we are on track with that. 

We’ve been lucky to have a great bunch of people and partners who believe in Mindler’s vision. This has been one of the major factors for the remarkable growth that we have seen in the last two years. On a year-on-year basis compared to last year quarter, our revenues are growing 9X, number of partner schools have increased by 3.5X, and number of B2C customers has increased by 3X. Besides, our website traffic has grown organically by 7X YoY, making our content-based user acquisition strategy to stand out. 

Next two years are very critical for us - you’ll see Mindler becoming synonymous with career guidance in the country.