Pravin Gandhi, Founder, SchoolVita
Pravin Gandhi is the founder of SchoolVita, a startup venture providing mobile app as for schools and parents. He has 36 years’ experience in new technology product development of which 17 years have been with TCS and it’s subsidiary CMC Ltd. Gandhi completed his Mechanical engineering from V.J.T.I in Mumbai. Then he did masters in Industrial Engineering Program from University of Wisconsin-Madison and from Georgia Institute of Technology he did his MS in Industrial Engineering. In conversation with Dominic Rebello, Gandhi explains the benefits of bringing parents and school on the same platform and bringing Digital Inclusion to the masses.
What is the idea behind SchoolVita?
Schoolvita is the result of my desire to create something of value for the masses. I have done that earlier for Tata Consultancy Services where I was head of Products Group. Now I wanted to do this once more, with my own venture.
There are 4 exciting reasons that lead to creating Schoolvita:
Evergreen Education domain
Size of Target 20,000 urban schools, 4 crore parents
Mobile Revolution–India 2nd largest smartphone globally
Digital Payment – we thought of this long before the current push towards this
I am also clear that my solution must not be just a messenger wrapped as an app, and that it must provide new-age functionality and new-age-technology, delivering more value and meaningful experience. At the same time, it will allow schools an adoption process that is manageable, not overwhelming.
These were the considerations that formed the inspiration and basis for SchoolVita.
How big is the potential for a business like yours?
The addressable target is over 20,000 urban schools and 2 crore parents. Next:200,000 RURBAN schools and 20 crore parents. Launched in July-August 2016, we have two schools in Mumbai, and over a hundred in the pipeline.
How does the App help Schools, parents and students?
Schools wish to adopt Tech, but capex costs are a dampener; lack of expertise in their Information Technology knowledge, and suspicion of consultant/vendor are major worries. SchoolVita is a plug-n-play service, so it addresses these concerns by being Zero-Capex, Zero-time-to-deploy and Zero-hassles of owning, running and managing.
SchoolVita has many “Firsts”: School Fee Payment as per school fee structure and choice of payment modes and frequency; Unique GPS-based Child Locator which shows Child’s location on a map in the app; Performance Graphs; Multi-child, multi-guardian and multi-school; and others.
Payment of school Fees is a common pain point for schools and parents. The school staff takes about 10 minutes for each parent paying school fee. There is a line of parents at the office and creates peak pressures on the staff at certain times of day. By accepting fees from SchoolVita, school avoids these problems and reduces footfalls in the school. For parents, even though they are digitally connected, they have to take a day off to pay school fees. By paying fees from SchoolVita, they pay anytime, from anywhere, save time, and have a choice of various payment modes. We had anticipated the move towards Digital Payment long before the current push by the government post-Demonetisation, even before the software was written; in fact this was among the very first items on the functional specifications for the mobile app.
Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
For the company, I see it as a second-round-funded company with institutional participation. SchoolVita will be the mobile platform of choice by upscale schools and the only enabler for mid-level schools. SchoolVita will play a vital role in the digital inclusion of a vast population. I see SchoolVita as a major contributor to the National Rurban Mission, Skill Development Mission and Digital India Mission.