How dropping out of college led this entrepreneur to launch edtech startup LearnApp

In 2007, Prateek Singh, then 17, had to let go of a year of his college after his parents had to relocate to India from Malaysia. It was the middle of the semester and no school admitted him. Prateek was looking to make good use of his free time when his father casually asked him to start trading.

This was the starting point of his entrepreneurial journey. Prateek then started LearnApp along with Ankush Oberoi, Swati Sharma, and Sohail Alam in 2018.

The Noida-based edtech startup is a subscription-based platform that offers courses on investing, trading, and finance via recorded and live video sessions from industry leaders. Today, LearnApp has enabled more than two lakh people to learn how to grow money from money.

After going south during the pandemic, Prateek ‘changed’ a few strategies at LearnApp, and the company turned profitable in FY21, with revenue growth of about 300 percent, and paid users growing from 70,000 to two lakh.

Learning from mentors

After learning to be his own boss at a young age, Prateek’s passion in trading led him to launch four startups, all related to trading and investing. He co-founded startups like Tradersaint, a trading forum for investors; and MarketScientist, a firm that aimed at making knowledge sharing and learning accessible, interactive, and cutting-edge. After learning the tricks of the trade, Prateek finally launched LearnApp in August 2018.

Prateek says it has not been easy and he had to learn the hard way. “I failed four times in college. But I always made up for my losses because I was an active investor in the markets,” he says.

But LearnApp hit the right spot. From the beginning, Prateek had an investor onboard, as he bagged initial investment of Rs 2 crore from Zerodha’s Rainmatter. He also had advisors like Nithin Kamath, Founder of Zerodha, and other industry veterans on board.

Speaking about the initial days, Prateek says, the platform had courses as PPT presentations, all taught by him. However, Nithin Kamath told him it might not work.

Paying heed to it, Prateek reimagined the whole platform and came up with a sophisticated learning platform with investment courses from the likes of A Balasubramanian, MD and CEO of Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC Limited; Ashish Chauhan, CEO of Bombay Stock Exchange; Tom Basso, Founder of TrendStat Hedge Fund; Nilesh Shah, MD of Kotak Mahindra Asset Management; Ashish Kashyap, Founder of Goibibo and INDMoney; R Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director of Tata Sons, and others.

These experts would conduct classes for 12 weeks, and the coursework involved online tests. This made record revenue of Rs 45 lakh within four months of launch.

COVID-19 pandemic

After seeing initial success, by February 2020, LearnApp saw plenty of subscribers cancelling their subscriptions and there were high bounce rates as the pandemic worsened.

The brand could have either shut shop or persisted. But Prateek decided to hustle and persist. The company used the opportunity to turn its business around by adding more interactive courses, adding analytics, stretching its technology, and offering annual plans.

“This resulted in acquiring new subscribers during the lockdown as users had more time to explore the platform and they began to love the content we were creating, giving us a great completion rate. Many new users who were looking forward to learn about markets reached out to LearnApp and took their first online course with us,” adds Prateek. He says the company not only turned profitable but also grew five times in FY21, “and all of this without any spend on marketing or advertising,” says Prateek.

He adds the startup does not need external investors and can support its scale to reach 50 lakh users by itself. “We will also expand our team from 55 at present to more than 120 shortly on the back of massive growth,” says Prateek.

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