Rising up in Pakistan, high-school buddies Rooshan Aziz and Taha Ahmed, the founders of edtech start-up Maqsad, had been very aware of their luck. Aziz struggled with dyslexia however his dad and mom had been in a position to afford after-school tutorial assist that enabled him to finish his schooling. Ahmed, in the meantime, benefited from a sequence of educational scholarships that gave him a headstart in life.
Quick ahead to the Covid-19 pandemic, Aziz and Ahmed had been each working in London, and watched with horror as Pakistan tried to maneuver to on-line studying, however discovered itself unable to scale up a know-how platform able to supporting giant numbers of scholars. The disaster acted as an impetus to launch Maqsad, which is at this time asserting a $2.8 million funding spherical because it reaches 1 million customers solely six months after its launch.
Maqsad goals to make schooling extra accessible to 100 million Pakistani college students by means of a studying platform delivered by way of a cellular app. The platform affords educating and testing, and might reply to queries. It seeks to disrupt the nation’s out-of-school schooling sector, which largely consists of costly tuition companies that almost all households can’t afford.
“Maqsad affords an distinctive after-school studying expertise for college students at a fraction of the price of present alternate options,” Ahmed explains. “Our give attention to scholar issues is on the core of our mission, and we’ve collected suggestions from over 20,000 college students and academics throughout Pakistan to make sure studying outcomes are being achieved.”
Actually, the corporate has grown remarkably rapidly. Since its launch final yr, the Maqsad app has been downloaded greater than 1 million instances and is persistently ranked because the primary schooling app in Pakistan on the Google Play Retailer. The app gives entry to high-quality content material developed by skilled academics, but additionally makes use of synthetic intelligence instruments to supply personalised studying.
Aimed initially at college students aged 15 to 19 – typically getting ready for board or college entrance exams – the platform goals to have actual affect in a market the place student-teacher ratios, at 44:1, are among the many highest on the earth. Maqsad – the title is the Urdu phrase for “goal” – affords a freemium mannequin, enabling college students to entry a spread of options and companies at little or no price. Over time, it plans to supply extra content material geared toward youthful college students.
From an funding perspective, the enterprise affords publicity to an schooling market that’s price $37 billion in Pakistan. Whereas different technology-enabled suppliers are additionally focusing on the market – together with Abwaab and Nearpeer – Maqsad regards its major rivals because the suppliers of bodily tuition centres. These are unaffordable for a lot of college students, it factors out, or just inaccessible for many who don’t dwell in city areas the place such centres are situated.
“This may be life-changing for college students,” Ahmed provides. “Many college students have struggled to get any personalised assist with their schooling as a result of their households can’t afford after-school assist or they merely can’t get to tuition centres.”
The corporate’s backers see a possibility to drive social affect by means of a commercially-attractive mannequin. At the moment’s spherical, which is able to convey the whole quantity of funding raised by the corporate to $4.9 million, is led by Speedinvest and present investor Indus Valley Capital. Additionally it is backed by enterprise capital traders Stellar Capital and Alter World, in addition to a variety of enterprise angels.
“We first invested in Maqsad 18 months in the past, earlier than that they had a product or a workforce,” says Indus Valley Capital’s founder Aatif Awan. “We had been compelled by the imaginative and prescient Rooshan and Taha had for schooling in Pakistan. Investing once more in Maqsad is a no brainer as we now have seen them convey collectively among the best start-up groups in Pakistan to construct a category-leading product that has helped over one million college students.”
Philip Specht, a associate at Speedinvest, one among Europe’s largest seed funds, can be excited by the chance to drive social change. “We invested in Maqsad as a result of we see potential for it to the touch the lives of thousands and thousands of scholars and disrupt the schooling ecosystem,” he says.