In my time back to 2005, there was not a single source to check the reputation of a college or university with before getting admitted there for higher studies. Gradually a few websites came up only to list the best colleges or best universities in India, or top 10 MBA institutes in India, etc. which hardly helps career aspirants find out which institute is the best for his chosen academic niche. Such listings are often sponsored, not based on unbiased feedback from students.
In contrast to those unreliable platforms is Helpingo, a Bangalore-based edutech startup which helps admission seekers with genuine feedback and reviews about various colleges all over India. Unlike mere websites on college education, Helpingo is a micro-consulting platform for 12th pass-out students to connect with college students in real time, according to cofounder Ayushi Sinha. Launched in March 2016 and backed by NASSCOM, Helpingo has managed to create a community of more than 100 college seniors in just three months.
The idea to help college admission seekers with genuine feedbacks about colleges came to Ayushi Sinha when a cousin of hers was grappling with the difficulty of taking an informed decision about admission to a college. When she was approached for a piece of advice, she had no idea about more than one college. Ayushi herself faced the same dilemma when she was seeking admission to a good engineering college. This is how she decided to address this problem with a unique solution that came to exist as Helpingo.
Ayushi Sinha holds B.Tech in Electronics & Communication from IIT Allahabad. After graduation in 2012, she worked with Cisco for one year and a half. For her strong desire to explore different fields, she quit the job at Cisco and joined Barista, a famous coffee chain, where she came across many people who would discuss their startup ideas over cups of coffee. Then she took up a full-time job as UX designer at a design studio to learn the things necessary for a startup. Alongside it, she started doing consulting for a couple of startups and then joined Myntra as a UX consultant.
I have always dreamt of doing something of my own. Having gained some experience in a couple of jobs, I badly wanted to taste the joy of entrepreneurship. With the help of my co-founder, Anand Kumar, Helpingo came to be my destination as an entrepreneur.
What is so unique about Helpingo that makes it stand out from usual educational startups in the market? While talking about the USP of her edutech startup, Ayushi Sinha says that the best thing about Helpingo is that it is not driven by paid reviews and biased feedback. “The college students in our community are those pursuing some or the other course in various colleges across India. They not only provide their feedback about colleges but also answer various questions about infrastructure, campus placement, teaching faculty, accreditation, future prospects, etc. Not only students but also their parents can approach the members of our community,” says Ayushi.
No doubt, Helpingo is a standout startup in India. What about its competition with some big players in the market? In Ayushi’s words, the Helpingo team is trying to address the problems that have not been taken care of before in order to compete with the few established players like Shiksha and College Dunia. The community of active college seniors is Helpingo’s strength to beat the competition.
“Challenges come first and competition later,” says Ayushi. She adds, “The biggest challenge for any startup is trust building. It was very difficult for us to convince people that our edutech startup is genuine, different and helpful. In any community based startup, the challenge is to find to initial adopters who would be ready to try out a new platform. Once they find value, the word spreads and people keep joining on seeing the initial traction. We are still on our way to get as many students as we can to develop the platform further.”
Ayushi Sinha and Anand Kumar, the cofounder duo, are happy and sanguine about the promising future of Helpingo though it is currently a very small community of over 100 verified college seniors just as we feel happy about even a single fruit on a plan in our garden. “The current strength of the community will double very soon. We have had amazing conversations on our platform where students have asked various questions ranging from branch selection to placements to food to culture in the campus. We even receive calls from students’ parents and guardians. We have a user base of over 300 students,” says Ayushi jubilantly about the traction of Helpingo.
Unlike businesses in the bygone times, startups need a vision and mission to reach their goals strategically. Is there any calculated plan to support Helpingo’s growth and market penetration? Ayushi says, “We aim to become the one and only most reliable community for all students seeking admission to colleges for higher studies in any niche. We wish that every student should think of Helpingo as their trusted guide before taking admission to a college.”
Ayushi is motivated by her vision of internationalizing Helpingo by offering the same service to students seeking admission abroad. She is also on a mission to make the community more engaging in different ways.
On a closing note, Ayushi Sinha sounds determined when she says, “Our target is 85% of 25 million students, who enrol into colleges for bachelor degree programs. The first call with any senior in the community is absolutely free at Helpingo. Try Helpingo and rely on it to make the best career decision. Do always remember that admission into the right college can be a steppingstone for your career in the future.”