In an exclusive interaction with Mr Nikhil Jain, Co-Founder & CEO, ForeignAdmits, SMEStreet presents some key insightful infomration around contemporary trends in higher education and mentorship. Edited excerpts:
1) What is ForeignAdmits all about? Tell us about the team
ForeignAdmits is an online digital platform that helps in simplifying the study abroad assistance process for the aspirants through data-backed guidance, AI-powered tools and authentic Mentorship from top universities Mentors. Aspirants here get crisp and clear guidance throughout their entire process from career counselling to admission assistance along with post-admission support to international universities. We are unboxing the whole study abroad assistance which was previously made to look like a blackbox via traditional consultants. And also deskilling the whole guidance using AI and digital tools to make it accessible and affordable for students and counsellors to use.
ForeignAdmits is founded by a team of two IIT Alumni (IIT Bombay & IIT BHU) who happen to be fully funded international graduates from USA and Australia, having the passion for education. Having gone through the process themselves, they have seen a lot of loopholes and that’s why they experimented in the market for a while in start and finally started ForeignAdmits as a platform. The whole team is of 30 members with most being either international graduates or aspirants themselves. That helped them to be connected to the same vision of the company
2) What is the vision and USP of the company as compared to other players in the same domain?
Transforming career counselling and study abroad admissions globally through data, artificial intelligence, human expertise, and experiences.
We aim to make Study Abroad Guidance simpler for any student to do it for themselves by de-skilling the entire research to planning process and still keeping it personalised & authentic. This is possible with a deeper understanding of the needs of touchpoints of personalisation and common problems faced by different types of students. Thus our in-test product is suitable for Students, Counsellors, Schools and Colleges.
Compared to other counsellors, we prioritise personalisation for students with accuracy of information & authenticity in processes. And we still maintain efficiency for counsellors, to give a better and enriching experience to students who are more cognizant of the process & goals. And best part, its all online, documented, digitally processed with least chances of error.
3) What are the changes in policies and strategies the company has initiated to successfully run this model?
We initially ran this as an admission consulting & mentorship provider platform and after understanding the whole process, we started building micro products and designing the whole process.
We hired mostly international graduates and aspirants to ensure that our team fully understands what it takes for a student to study abroad. We have always kept the process from enrolling to admissions, very transparent to students unlike few trends of creating misguided hype to enroll them for admissions and send to specific set of universities for mere commissions. While keeping a transparent process, we make it very data oriented for students to understand the potential gaps in their profile and help them bridge those gaps via top quality mentorship from target university mentors & field specialists. We have built over 1500 university partnerships but that had never let us be biased towards students as the students see the merit of the process which is goal oriented, data driven and mentorship backed.
Since, we believed to have strong scalable processes in 1st place, we took our time in building technology upon it. We perfected many processes and later started launching small tools. For internal process to make a small team handle a huge load of student enquiries and admission support, we have invested in our internal process development. We are using a set of saas products and custom products too including low code tools to automate a lot of tedial tasks. We always relied on technology to simplify and scale the process for our teams to work efficiently and be responsive to students needs and doubts.
4) Businesses are facing a hard time in India, how much has it affected your company?
This is contrary to our growth. As we grew 10times in COVID 19 when the study abroad market was plummeting. Our growth has been steady and consistent with a double digit month over month growth in overall metrics from customers, to organic user base, MAUs, DAUs and admission success. We still maintain 100% admission success since the beginning.
5) How did you come up with the idea?
While studying abroad and while travelling to different countries, I had the opportunity to meet many international students from India and South East Asia. I was running student communities for jobs, internships and research opportunities in India, which I scaled to over 10000 students and working professionals being its members. Thus, being in contact with their employment issues, a very common thing was found is lack of cognizance in the career and education planning by most students. While studying abroad being a very costly experience for many aspirants, the adverse impacts are also higher if things do not go in favour. And this was due to the age old processes in this industry adopted and never transformed from decades. There are highly expensive quality boutique consultants for whom study abroad consulting is a rich lifestyle business, making it unaffordable for a massive part of population to get good guidance. On the other hand, we have typical commission driven sales agents and consultancies who work more on university admission commission and often lose the sight of what is in best interest for the students. So, this market was highly fragmented, opaque, and needed a standardisation. That’s where we started ForeignAdmits, as we were already helping a lot of students from IIT Almamater before setting up the company using our traditional and high quality mentorship culture, popular at IITs. And when universities and many tech giants found this concept interesting, when reviewed with them, we felt confident to start this full fledged platform with multiple products and offerings in an end to end manner. We aimed to make premium guidance, counselling very affordable for students and aspirants with our unique business models.
6) What is your business/market growth?
We have grown over 10 times in the last year in terms of revenue. We have seen over 200K user growth which is almost 20 times compared to last year. And we have healthy 67% organic growth in terms of our traffic and users. We have raised a small Friends & Family and angel round last year to support & fuel our growth. We have built over 1500 university partnerships and are esteemed partners to ETS TOEFL for test prep and awareness creation, and are supported by initiatives like Facebook Grant.
We have been getting over 1000 organic equiries every month for study abroad goals.
7) Who are your consumers?
Our consumers are Students from class 8-12 who aim for studying abroad for bachelors courses, pre-final year to final year aspirants who aim to change their field, or want to have a specialised education and lastly working professionals with 1-5 yrs of experience who wants to do an MBA or aim to switch careers or look at immigration via study abroad option. And on B2B side, we are working with international universities for creating awareness, branding and activation along with helping them in their marketing plans with our full stack marketing suite given as a service using data.
8) Is the company planning any major collaboration, if any name it?–
We are in talks for a few big collaborations with Industry leaders in Test Preparations, and a large telecom company for distribution of our digital offerings to nearly 50mn students in India at an early career phase to help them realise and understand how they can plan for their study abroad journey in an effective manner.