Startup Street: Learn To Code For Free, Pay Only If You Get A Job
Attendees use laptop computers as Lego A/S toybricks sit on a desk (Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)  

Startup Street: Learn To Code For Free, Pay Only If You Get A Job

This week on Startup Street, a startup with a flexible financing plan is building software engineers from scratch. Mukesh Ambani’s flagship bought a venture that is helping mom-and-pop stores go online. And an agritech startup received fresh funds from Walmart Inc. and Flipkart. Here’s what went on:

AttainU Is Churning Out Job-Ready Coders

A Bengaluru-based edtech startup is offering online software engineering courses with a unique proposition: study for free and pay back when you get a job.

The deal from one-year-old AttainU is simple. Students must pay a fee of Rs 3 lakh, spread out over 36 months in equated monthly instalments only if they get a job that pays over Rs 5 lakh a year within eight months. “If the students get paid less than Rs 5 lakh per annum, they don’t need to pay for the course according to the income share agreement they enter into at the time of enrollment,” Divyam Goel, chief executive and co-founder of the startup, told BloombergQuint.

The startup is trying to tackle the shortage of high-quality coding talent in India. Outdated curricula in Indian engineering colleges has resulted in graduates not being versed with new-age technologies, leading them to be out of jobless. A study of over 36,000 Indian engineering students by Aspiring Minds had found that 95 percent of the graduates were unfit for software development.

Goel, an IIT-graduate who has worked with Google and Uber, recognises that problem. “The main challenges with engineering or college education are those of lack of counselling, non-scalable model, obsolete faculty and outdated curriculum,” he said. “This combined with lack of counselling results in students realising the futility of college education only upon graduation once they don’t get a job.”

The curriculum has not been updated since a long time. It is more academic than practical in nature.
Divyam Goel, CEO & Co-Founder, AttainU
AttainU Founders Divyam Goel (R) and Vaibha Bajpai (L). (Source: AttainU)
AttainU Founders Divyam Goel (R) and Vaibha Bajpai (L). (Source: AttainU)

AttainU trains students to code from scratch. Which means they don’t need to have a formal education or degree in engineering to sign up. “We have also had students, without any degree or with diplomas skilled through our programs and get placed in the end,” Goel said.

The startup offers seven-month-long fully online courses with specialisation in full-stack web development—everything from front-end to the back-end. Students go through AttainU’s “industry-aligned curriculum” which has 60 assignments, 100 coding challenges and three real-world projects. These are facilitated through domain expert instructors, mentors and teaching assistants.

Following the course, the startup helps its students get placed by connecting them with its industry partners, some of which are Delhivery, Ola, BookMyShow, Anarock, PayU, IndiaMart and 1mg.

AttainU is currently running 6 batches with over 550 students. The average size of a batch is between 140-170 students. The first batch, which started in February 2019 and graduated in October, saw over 70 percent of the students get placed. Their second batch is expected to graduate by December-end.

The relatively small core staff has 20 individuals with multiple responsibilities. Goel co-founded the startup with Vaibha Bajpai who was part of the team at global computer science interview preparation platform GeeksforGeeks. Ansal Mon, a self-taught programmer who has worked with Akshara Foundation, handles the teaching vertical.

The AttainU team. (Source: AttainU)
The AttainU team. (Source: AttainU)

Goel said that AttainU is already operationally profitable. It has raised angel funding from former Google India Head Shailesh Rao, former India Head of Intuit Nikhil Rungta, KredX Founder Manish Kumar, Anil Gelra of HolaChef and Samyakth Capital.

The startup aims to cater to more than 8,000 students over the next year while improving their completion and placement rate.

The demand for its “study now, pay later” offering is sure there. Goel said that in October the startup received more than 20,000 student applications. “This was our way of ensuring that everyone irrespective of their financial background can avail high-quality learning,” he said. “In the longer term, we see AttainU as a horizontally diversified college for life platform.”

Reliance Industries Picks Up Majority Stake In NowFloats

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd. has bought 85 percent stake in ‘software as a service’ startup NowFloats.

Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd. has acquired the shares for Rs 141.63 crore in the Hyderabad-based startup, it said in an exchange filing. The firm will now make a further investment of up to Rs 75 crore which will be subject to the startup achieving certain milestones.

Following the additional investment, Reliance’s stake in the startup will go up to 89.6 percent.

NowFloats offers SaaS solutions to small and medium-sized businesses, enabling them to have a digital presence. Their services include local content discovery platform, online business management suite, website promotion and marketing solutions. Their platform can help small businesses build their website and interact with customers.

Prior to Reliance’s buyout, the startup had raised $12 million from investors, including Blume Ventures, Omidyar Network, Iron Pillar, IIFL Wealth Management and Hyderabad Angels.

Ninjacart Gets Funding From Walmart, Flipkart

Walmart and Flipkart on Wednesday announced a joint strategic investment in Ninjacart, a fresh produce supply chain startup.

The three partners aim to help ensure better access to high-quality fresh produce for more retailers and consumers across India while also creating economic opportunities for farmers, according to a joint statement.

Partnering with Ninjacart will help Walmart and Flipkart strengthen direct sourcing of fresh produce for Walmart India’s Best Price B2B cash-and-carry stores and Flipkart's online grocery business Supermart, it said.

“The investment will also support Ninjacart to expand its customer base, reach new cities and gain exposure to global best practice to enhance the efficiency of the local fresh produce ecosystem,” the statement added.

Ninjacart claims to move over 1,400 tonnes of fresh produce per day and has doubled its volumes in the last four months.

With PTI inputs.

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