We just raised $1M in a round led by Pentathlon Ventures, 9Unicorns, IAN & prominent angels. More details are here. But more importantly, here’s what we’re going to do with it.
Day1 – Past, Present & Future
From Day1, Sushil & I have deeply thought about the future of #Admission Technology and what it means for the Indian & global admission teams. In 2019-20 around ~, $ 22.6 Billion was spent globally on education marketing where the market is still growing at 18% CAGR. In the aftermath of the pandemic when the education industry across the world had to #reinvent in two core areas i.e. how they digitally skill students & how they digitally acquire students. We at ExtraaEdge found ourselves at an important crossroad. We had just arrived as a category leader in education marketing software. Like the iconic character Jonas from the futuristic web series, “Dark” we for the past 4 years have deeply understood the current needs, learned from the past mistakes & have been committed to building a future-proof admission technology stack for the digitally-driven admission teams. Traveling back & forth with our end users perfecting every nuts & bolt of the ultimate admission technology engine.
In the last 4 years, we have powered 225+ customers across India, Middle East, United Kingdom and grown our recurring revenue ~100% year on year. More than 3000+ enterprise admission team members use our product with average cohort retention of ~92% across 30 days. That’s product stickiness at its peak! In Q1’20, at the height of COVID-19, we even exceeded our projections by 20% while burning less cash than we had projected! Our growth pattern has continued since then.
But what excites us the most is that ExtraaEdge has created a category called “Education Marketing Software“, in the Indian market where we found our Product-Market Fit.
2020 in the aftermath of the pandemic shaped up to be a massive year for the ExtraaEdge platform. Historically, we’ve spent proportionately way more on research and development than other software companies in our space, and that won’t stop any time soon. This funding will go straight into building great new pieces of admission software at a pace you’ve yet to see from us. In 2016 we were the first category player in the market to champion an Education Focused CRM & thereafter we brought in industry-first innovations like a conversational chatbot for admission engagement, NLP bots, the first white-labeled mobile app for university application & a remote ready CRM on a smartphone. So at a high level, here’s what we’re working on next.
#1. Substantially improving our existing products, especially for bigger Universities, Ed-Tech & TestPrep brands
When we started in 2016 we had a limited product catalog, catered to few admission use cases & had smaller customers. All disruptive technologies start selling first to small companies, the early adopters in a market. Then, as the customer base and market matures, competitors & copycats emerge but successful disruptive technologies evolve with them, adding the sophistication that ever-larger customers need as they scale. Our average ticket size has grown by 250%, average users/customer by 3X & now we power many customers with 3000+ admission team members distributed geographically.
The most important thing we’re going to do with this investment is improve our existing products. Period.
We’ve made some nice progress here, with large, newer VC-backed EdTech firms such as ImagineXP, AhaGuru amongst others. These EdTech firms are using ExtraaEdge’s complete product suite to increase their conversions, manage their admissions data & powering their counselors with powerful admission software. At the same time established players like MIT Group & Allen Education Group use ExtraaEdge to increase, manage & predict their admissions. But we need to do more. The most important thing we’re going to do with this capital, this year, is to improve our existing admission products based on your feedback. We’re about to start shipping your most frequently requested features faster than ever before. The best is yet to come in terms of making what we already have stronger, more robust, and easier to use.
#2. Reinventing our playbook – changing the way how counselors and admissions teams work
In 2016 we launched the much-awaited “To-do lists” style “My Activities” which became the most used workflow for our end-users i.e. counselors & admission teams. They could plan their follow-ups on time based on manually set subjective time slots. Nobody named them “To-Do-Lists” back then, but it was about that time that a number of businesses experimented with new and better ways for admissions teams to engage with prospective students.
Our mission from the start has been to make the life of a counselor simple & automate their workload. At the core, our product is a single page, simple yet powerful. We are committed to keeping it that way.
For the first time in the history of Education Marketing software, we are going to take the power of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) & ML (Machine Learning) to fundamentally change the way counselors operate. These two seminal tools allow us uniquely to automate the workflows yet rely on tried & tested play-books. The way the counselors manage their day’s work, remain on top of their follow-ups, engage prospects pro-actively, conduct their scheduled calls, drive more applications & remain in absolute control of their funnel.
We will introduce the #new age counsellor’s Work Queue which will be a digital first led admission assistant for the new age admissions teams.
This will be the biggest evolution yet, as it redefines what an optimal admission motion for a counselor should look like, as well as what automation will accomplish. We’ll share a lot more details soon, but we think you’ll love it for the new use cases it will unlock, uniquely for our admission teams.
#3. Investing in humble, empathetic, mission-driven team members with a founder’s mindset
In a world filled with rhetoric & noise where companies flaunt their employee strength & drink their own cool-aid, we see this as a distraction. While companies try to find all #Rockstars we at ExtraaEdge operate differently.
We are humbled by nature, empathetic by choice, compete with ourselves, mission driven & focus on means as much as great business outcomes.
This is a long-term business strategy wherein we invest in people, process & ecosystem stakeholders building meaningful relationships. This current investment will help us relook at our organizational structure with a fresh pair of eyes keeping into account the challenging growth needs of tomorrow as we augment our team at a faster pace.
In the last 4 years, we have seen absolutely wonderful hardworking, mission-oriented & super smart folks. We have had interns who turned into great individual performers & team leads, former entrepreneurs who joined us bringing their founder’s mindset, folks who moved cross-functional departments out of their comfort zones aligning their skills with their roles when moving out was an easy choice. We also had fantastic new joiners who took responsibilities punching above their weights & domain experts who brought in more gravitas to our company-wide OKRs. A big shout to Sagar K, Arpit C, Rohan P, Supreetha J, Dipanjana, Tarika, Tejashri, Atishay, Chandni & Nikhil for epitomizing this.
We have always believed in nurturing talent internally & will continue to do so. Along with that, we will not shy away from hiring the right talent who have been there & done in fast-growing environments as this creates a culture of hiring A+ players. A big shout to Ashish N, Daksh A, Ruchi D & Deepak C. Our investment in building a strong core management team & underlying strong squads will continue at a razor-fast space.
If you are looking to join a meaningful organization on a mission do check out the open positions here. Do refer folks or apply to join ExtraaEdge on a mission to category leadership in education marketing software.
#4. Investing in machine learning & prediction to make admission automation happen at scale
I worked on Machine learning quantitative models at HSBC in 2013. It was overhyped then, and it’s overhyped now. Yet some things have changed in that time that gives it the potential to be more than a marketing gimmick. From our perspective, the most interesting of these changes is the digitization of the system of records of admissions we now have to build on, and also the rich admission data available to us.
From Day1, unlike our competition, our applications were built as a #360-degree admission suite
Predictability of admissions & conversions Is the ultimate competitive advantage. We are developing the industry’s first Admission Graph, enabling us to harness the power of Intelligent Matching and Reinforced Learning at scale.
The founding teams have deep expertise working with varied admission use cases across Universities, TestPrep, Coaching, StudyAbroad & Vocational. Furthermore, we are ideally qualified to solve this for our customers better than anyone else because of our data science and CRM product expertise, as well as our SaaS heritage. Period.
You’re going to see us take advantage of these things this year, bringing some technologies to market for the first time that will accelerate the growth of your business, and make your existing and prospective customers even happier too.
#5. Building a brand-new ExtraaEdge product
ExtraaEdge at its core has been focused on solving admission problems across the prospective student’s lifecycle for educational brands – from acquisition to engagement, to retention, to finally admitting that we sell to outreach, marketing & admission teams. Our focus will stay there, and we’re going to go ever deeper into these areas.
With this investment & being true to the nature of competing with ourselves we are committed to work on a secure, stable, feature rich, budget friendly & compliant ExtraaEdge.
From time to time, we take the opportunity to introduce a new form of admission technology to the market that doesn’t fit into the same product categories that education buyers are familiar with. And the product we’re working on now is a prime example of that. It’s something everyone will be excited to experiment with, from which quite a lot of you will get a ton of value. That’s coming this year too.
Gratitude & Thank you!
Building ExtraaEdge has been super challenging however immensely rewarding. The relationships along with the skills that we as a company have, and build a compound over time. The learning curve and growth that people in their twenties and thirties are witnessing could not have been possible anywhere else. I am humbled & filled with immense joy. In the words of legendary Dev Anand, the spirit with which one should take hard times and defeats on one’s stride and keep moving on…. Each day, every day.
Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya. Har fikr ko dhuein mein uRaata chala gaya. “I just kept going with the life, Kept on making every worry fly like smoke..”
Our true north has always been ExtraaEdge’s customers & end-users, you are appreciated. Borrowing from the page of Eoghan McCabe, Co-Founder @Intercom; Through our imperfections, you’ve kept the faith, and you’ve made us what we are today. We are wholly committed to giving you what you want and need, and making you evermore successful. We have more passion, energy, and resources than we’ve ever had, and can’t wait to get all these new things into your hands.
I welcome our new partners Pentathlon VC, 9Unicorns, FaaD Network, Manasij Ganguly, Monish Darda, Aditya Somani to the roller coaster.
I salute our existing investors IAN ( Indian Angel Network), Sprout VP & TiE Pune Angels for backing us yet again.
Finally, I thank my mentors Sachin, Ravi, Mohit, Ritesh, Manasij, Adit, and Sahil for their wisdom & mentorship.
Finally, I owe this opportunity to all my team members at ExtraaEdge but most importantly my co-founder Sushil Mundada for raising the performance bar for all of us at ExtraaEdge every day.
Godspeed & may the force be with us !
Abhi | Co-Founder @ ExtraaEdge