A study from the University of Twente in the Netherlands states that while only 15% of companies surveyed had formal alumni networks, another 67% had employees who independently organised informal alumni groups.
Unlike the West, In India, alumni networks is a highly disorganised space. As the study suggests, there are many who informally form groups to keep it touch. There are Facebook pages, WhatsApp groups painstakingly created by a few alumni desperate to keep in touch with their classmates or ex-colleagues.
In other countries, alumni are an important part of their alma matter, be it a school or a corporate in terms of providing mentorship, donating funds, organising events, acting as brand ambassadors and sometimes in terms of just staying in touch.
Paresh Masade and Sanjeev Kosaraju saw immense business potential in this simple yet unidentified problem in India. In the case of this industry, there is demand but supply lacks.
“When we started out, the concept of alumni networking was almost non-existent in India and we believed that we can sell the concept and its advantages and bring about a paradigm shift. But, it was not easy,” says Paresh.
Paresh and Sanjeev started Vaave in December 2011. Selling a B2B product in education sector in India, especially with an unknown concept such as this was their biggest challenge.
Transforming their idea into a business required a huge effort to visiting hundreds of institutions, understanding their needs and challenges faced by companies in keeping their alumni connected.
“We had to educate them about how they can reach out to the alumni and keep them engaged and how this engagement will benefit all the stakeholders (alumni, institutions and students),” says Sanjeev.
Initially, Vaave was bootstrapped by providing some web services to various clients parallely. The profits generated from the services business were invested into building Vaave.
It took almost six months for Vaave to sign up its first institution and another four months to sign up the second. Once it gained the first few customers, Vaave shut down its services business in early 2015 and began focusing entirely on alumni networks.
Vaave is a SaaS platform to build exclusive alumni networks for educational institutions and corporates.
It builds portal that has a range of services such as building and managing an updated alumni database; organising reunions and alumni meets; involving alumni in student development; raising funds from alumni manage chapter, batch and special interest groups.
Vaave also helps alumni share jobs and business opportunities, knowledge and other resources instantly.
When it comes to corporate alumni networks, Vaave says that it helps them enhance their employer branding and improve their re-hire rate.
Every time Vaave on-boards a client, it charges them an independent amount as the ‘Initial Setup Cost’ and then there is an annual subscription charge for maintaining the network. The annual subscription charge can vary anywhere between Rs 40,000 to Rs 2 lakh per annum.
While starting off was a challenge, business is going strong for Vaave. It generated around Rs 21 lakh in annual recurring revenue in FY16 and more than doubled this in FY17 to Rs 50 lakh.
Vaave has 800 clients in the education space across 17 states in India. It even has international clients in Africa and Australia.
Moreton Bay College, Brisbane, International Institute of Information Technology-Hyderabad ( IIIT-H ), Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur ( VNIT ), University of Mysore, Mysuru ( UOM ), SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai ( SPJIMR ) are some of the colleges it counts as clients.
Vaave is based out of T-Hub in Hyderabad. In fact, the company says that being a part of T-Hub has helped it receive positive feedback and advice when required. Vaave is now seeking its help in reaching out to more corporates this year to build its corporate alumni network.
Its corporate alumni network was recently launched with its first client being Qualcomm India. It is also in active talks with five other corporates to launch their official alumni networks.
Vaave claims to be the pioneer in bringing the concept of alumni networks to India for both educational institutes and also corporates. However, there are some other players as well in the Indian market that are working on the same business model.
There is AlmaConnect, which provides customised alumni networks to institutes. It has a tracking algorithm that runs over Facebook and LinkedIn that not only auto-finds alumni of an institute and invites them to sign up on the college portal, but also keeps profile information of alumni updated in a central database. It has around 300 institutions as clients.
Another direct competition for Vaave in India is Almabay, which creates alumni websites for institutes. Alumni get their individual login and password from where they can engage fellow alumni and students socially and professionally.
“Once the market started responding positively, we had multiple companies sprouting out to seize the opportunity. As on today, we are the market leaders in India in the education space and we will be striving for the same position in the corporate space. What set us apart is the deep understanding of the pain points and our post-sales support. We hand hold each institution and help them through each step of building an active alumni network. Our relationship with the institution does not end with the sale, it actually begins with the sale,” says Paresh.
Going forward, the 20-member team is eyeing a growth of 300% and reach a breakeven in FY18.
“We will be cementing our position as a market leader in the Indian Education space this year and will expand our base to multiple countries,” says Sanjeev.
In the corporate space, it is targeting building a minimum of 10 corporate networks this year.
“Our mission is to grow into a global leader in providing alumni networking services and to be able to reconnect even the most rural institutions to their alumni,” it says.