When we listen to great content, be it in a class or while someone speaks, we most often think we understand it completely, but when we try to apply it once we are back home, we often fail. And this happens mostly with students in class. While many have assistance from parents or tutors, there are also many students who don’t.
Having experienced this with their own child and niece, Vivekanand Vellanki and Mahesh Godavarti decided to bridge the gap and build a platform called ‘Qalaxia’. A word that sounds similar to ‘galaxy’ and a concept that is similar to Quora, Qalaxia is a website full of questions and answers where students, teachers and parents can post questions and get them answered in real-time.
While Qalaxia is the name of the platform, the startup founded by Vivek and Mahesh is called A carrot and is based out of the startup incubator T-Hub in Hyderabad.
“The idea is to get teachers, parents and even students to help each other. Kids that do well in school can also answer questions, help other kids and win rewards,” Vivek says.
Qalaxia can be used by four kinds of users – students, teachers, parents and experts.
Users can sign up, let the platform know which grade the student is in, or what profession the person is into and what their interests are.
Students can visit the platform to ask questions, answer quizzes and even answer questions posted by other students.
Teachers can post homework and quizzes on the platform. They can sign their class up and upload the homework on the platform, which is automatically graded and the teacher will then get a report of which students are taking help, for which questions and it helps teachers figure out what the class didn’t understand and hence improves their teaching skills, eventually helping students.
Parents can also log onto the platform, not only to find help for their kids but also to use their professional skills to help others seeking answers on the platform.
There are also experts, who can help answer questions based on their subject expertise, organize quizzes and challenges for students. They can also act as role models, allowing students to take guidance from them.
Vivek says that the platform could be a substitute for a tutor for students.
The platform deploys artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand what every student is trying to look for, what their strengths and weaknesses are.
“One of the main challenges is how do I show different content to different users. Everyone’s interests are different, every student is good at something and bad at something else. The platform has all this knowledge. It knows everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and accordingly pushes relevant content to them,” says Vivek, adding that over time as users keep coming back and asking questions, it learns.
At the moment, Qalaxia is a free product for parents, teachers and students and Qalaxia plans on keeping it that way. In order to generate revenue, the business model it is adopting is content marketing.
Another way on monetizing is having a system of incentivizing students to answer questions, solve quizzes and help other students and earn rewards or points (called carrots). These can be redeemed at various eateries and places.
At the moment, the content on Qalaxia is partly crowdsourced and partly being created by the company itself. It also expects more and more experts to come and ask questions and challenge students.
Having launched Qalaxia only a few months ago, the startup is currently focused on solving the problem of how to keep users engaged. The idea is to build the platform in a way that students keep coming back.
At present, Qalaxia has 700-750 users and three schools on board. It also has four teachers in the US using it for their students with seven more in the pipeline.
Having started with a B2C model, Vivek says that it hopes to move to a model where a teacher comes and signs their class up. With its current customer base, this seems to be working in the US.
And once the company figures out the B2B2C model, it plans to go directly to as many schools as possible and sign them on to the platform.
Qalaxia currently has users from US and India. While it will focus on expanding here, it is open to eventually expanding to other countries as well.
In the long term, Vivek hopes that Qalaxia will evolve and look a lot different from now. “Our role will be minimal. There will be enough content for teachers to find popular and challenging homework. There will be a huge library of content accessible to students and teachers,” he says.