Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Interview With Deepa Bhat, Founder

Featuring Woman Entrepreneur

Deepa Bhat,

[Category: Mompreneur
E-learning for K-12]

I have mentioned in my article earlier that the education market for the K-12 segment has tremendous potential. The penetration of the Internet and the multimedia, has made this potential lucrative for e-learning also in the K-12 segment. Coupled with these factors, Deepa Bhat used the Mompreneurship radar to detect the opportunity. She has just launched, which caters to the fun-filled way of reinforcing educational concepts to young children -- LKG - Grade 3, or kids in the age group of 4 years to 9 years. Deepa's kids have been the source for the motivation of her entrepreneurship. Read more to understand more about her interesting venture.

Q. Tell us a little about your background (education and past work experience). Do you have entrepreneurial roots?
I did my schooling from Clunny Covent High School, Malleshwaram, Bangalore. I chose Hotel Management for my undergrade and secured first rank in B.Sc Hotel Management (Madras University). Then I did my post-graduation in Tourism (M.T.M) in 2002.

As for experience, I have worked in the field of education starting as academic co-coordinator at Sri Shakti College Of Hotel Management Hyderabad, Sarosh Institute Of Hotel Management, Mangalore and Christ College, Bangalore.

After that I took a break for 6 years to enjoy motherhood. Upon restarting my career, I joined as a curriculum planner at a school (Sri Aurobindo Memorial School, Bangalore). There I took keen interest in the nursery section enhancing educational tools to make the redundant methods more appealing.

Q. Is this your first entrepreneurial venture? If no, then which were the earlier ones? Are you still involved in them?
Yes, this is my first effort to be on my own. I am the first generation of entrepreneur in my family.

Q. What market segment and industry are you addressing now? is addressing the e-learning industry and is targeted at the children in the age group of 4 years – 9 years or kindergarten to grade 3. is an online enrichment program designed to help children (Kindergarten - grade 3) excel through fun and practice. Questions are simple, structured, enjoyable, exciting and effective to enhance logic, reasoning and comprehending skills that follow the academic curriculum.
Q. What is your business model? How would you define it?
MYBEEHIVE the very name implies that children are like bees, always buzzing around, collecting honey(knowledge) and ever happy! is an online learning program. Once the module is bought, the child is assigned a login and a password. This is valid for a complete academic year.(If program is bought mid-year, there is an automatic upgrade that happens when there is a class change). Our program goes hand in hand with the curriculum followed in the Indian schools.

The program is timed (so, no more bore!), so, it logs out without stressing the child. The results are saved online, for the parents to view at their convenience and check on the area that the child needs to improvement on.

The unique reward program keeps the child motivated and a want to get back to the program the next day! Self paced learning is always recommended for growing children. Parents don’t need to be pushy anymore!

Q. Could you elaborate more on as an organizational set-up? How have you roped-in the personnel from various disciplines? is the result of not one but many like-minded individuals: Teachers, Professors, Graphic Designers, Content writers, Webmasters; this is the family. consists of several departments that house personnel skilled in their line of expertise. For example: our content development team is headed by teachers who have had a vast teaching experience at schools and colleges. To put it in simple words, these are teachers who understand that children have very low levels of patience yet they also understand how astounding their learning ability is. Each department is given the responsibility of shaping up certain modules of the learning process, which is later co-coordinated accordingly, in researching and developing, content for children. also has a dedicated research development and groundwork team, which conducts in-depth analysis of education material and feedback.

Q. Don’t you think there are too many variables (in the form of personnel like teachers, graphic designers, professors, webmasters) to control in your business model? What strategy have you adopted to keep the family bound together?
Every person associated with is here for the passion they share at their work. To elaborate the web Development Company associated with is a set of young developers/UI experts who are confident of their job and are available 24/7. The same can be said about the content developers too.

Q. How did you arrive at this business idea? What was the reason/motivation to start
My children are my biggest motivation and inspiration. They always showed great inclination towards learning through new books/flashcards/computers. They looked forward to solve puzzles, riddles, Sudoku and found the textbooks boring and limited.

I would set test papers for them before their assessments and usually a little tough to check on their comprehending capacity. They named these papers “amma’s challenge papers” and enjoyed doing them. is just a step forward on that note- the vast question bank at never allows the child to be bored at the same time trains the brain without straining!

Q. Which cities are you operating in now? Do you see scalability in your model?
The program is web based, all that my children need is a computer and a net connection to experience the fun learning. Scalability is huge!

Q. E-learning market has a good potential in India and the e-learning trend is in up swing. Your views on this.
In India it is in an infant stage and has a good potential. We as educators need to reinvent the learning system.

Q. How have you funded your business (starting from when it was incorporated)?
Dhruv Learning is the name of the company and is a product. It is self-funded in conjunction with a sound business and financial plan.

Q. What are the typical entry barriers in this industry?
Home learning has had its own problems (lack of knowledge about computer and internet for the mother/attention span of the child and so on). Many result in settling down with tuitions. But this is not the best option as tuitions are just another classroom. These kinds of children need personal coaching, practice and application of the lessons taught at school. E-learning is the answer as it allows the child to work at his/her own pace, comfort of the home (as commuting in cities to tuitions is also a hassle) and most importantly it is able to monitor results, which help in better understanding of the child’s capacity.

The main barrier here is to prove this to institutions and parents who feel that computers/internet harm children (could be addictive too).

Q. How do you handle the competition? How have you differentiated yourself as compared to the Educomp Solutions? They too provide online learning platforms like Mathguru and Aha!Science. What is the value proposition in your system?


Children of today are beyond textbook. Each mother looks for her child to be an all rounder than a book worm. The above online platforms mentioned by you aim at making the child academically strong. Is that it?

Keeping this in mind a complete new section ‘FUNZONE’ is made. Here, there are interesting games(remember they are not addictive).

Stories rewritten for young children in simple, easy to follow English. Stories of Nachiketa, Satyakama Jabala to name a few! (many of which we may have forgotten).

The other interesting aspect of FUNZONE is Busybee Ideas and Busybee Thinks. These are the set of common but smart questions asked by the children , which parents find it tough to explain. (Have you tried to explain- Why is the grass green?)

We also periodically update simple recipes that children can try a hand at! This knowledge bank keeps getting updated all the time. Our blog is a rich source of information for parents and a discussion platform for common areas of concern that parents today face with their children.

Q. What have been the challenges when you started – finding the business partner, financing, recruiting, selling (getting student enrolments) etc.? Which in your experience has been the most difficult challenge to overcome?
By the grace of God, every obstacle has turned into a challenge and a learning experience.

Q. Are you profitable now?
We have just launched two weeks back!

Q. Last, but not least, a little about your family – how did you manage to strike a balance between the home, kids and the new venture?
I have a lovely supportive family. Dhruv (9yrs), Darsh (6yrs) are my source of inspiration. I have the best husband (non-demanding and understanding and one who respects my work). Hence I enjoy my work and every stress is converted into a smile when I get back home.


Thanks Deepa for your time. Wish all the best!