Dubai: Elevate, the startup programme of the Indian pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, is making huge strides and is offering a platform to entrepreneurs from the country’s rural regions. One of them is Smitha Sukumaran, a teacher from a Kerala village who is also the CEO of Zyus Educare, a platform that provides affordable education and career guidance to students.
Sukumaran’s journey started when she went on an institutional trip a few years ago and met a young boy with ‘extraordinary’ English communication skills. “His parents were daily-wage workers and he was aspiring to pursue higher studies abroad. Later, I was dreaming about how he could become an international media person or an ambassador, but in reality he was not in a position to achieve any of his dreams.”
“Being a teacher, that thought haunted me for days and that’s how the idea of Zyus was born,” said Sukumaran. “We spent three years on product development and content research and we started our sales in 2021.”
Within six months of its launch, the company had over 13,000 students using its platform and is aiming to reach the 100,000 mark in Kerala alone.
India’s edtech sector is thriving and it has produced some big names such as Byju’s – a unicorn that counts Facebook (now Meta) as one of its shareholders. Homegrown online education platform Upgrad offers online courses from foreign universities much like Coursera and Udemy. As per some estimates, the edtech market in India was worth $2.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to have a valuation of $10.4 billion by 2025.
The latest Elevate session had around 50 startups showcasing their ideas to UAE-based investors. Close to 500 startups have pitched at these events so far. These are some of the companies that pitched at the event today:
Metanoa Labs: This startup has a web-based app that can be used by clinics, hospitals, educational institutions and a dedicated mobile app for parents with which they can interact with the associated caregivers and teachers as a standalone tool too. The platform has more than 70 screening tools for clinics and educational institutions.
Lailen Consulting: The company has a hyperlocal communication platform called ‘Talangau,’ which has a streamlined view of information based on locality and area. To maximise inclusion of users without a smartphone, the platform can autonomously decide to send information as an SMS message. Further, the platform is integrated with a public display board where text information will be displayed.
RoadMetrics: RoadMetrics is a deeptech mapping startup based in Bengaluru that leverages AI to identify and classify road and street features such as the road surface health like potholes and street assets like traffic signals and signages.
Pristine Foods: This is an emerging food processing unit based in Chumukedima, Nagaland. The company was founded in 2015 with a vision to promote the rare and unique agro-produce of Nagaland in the global food industry. Besides food processing, it seeks to assist growers in generating better revenue through smarter farming techniques and technology.
Eri Weave: This is a startup that promotes and manufactures handspun erisilk yarn and handwoven fabrics using the locally available erisilk cocoon.