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Shaktimaan AI raises $2M
A custom LLM for the Indian Test Prep market
Press Release: StartupStory
Market (geography): India
Market (industry verticals): Test Prep
Customer demographic: HE students, Adults
Public business data:
Avg. 219 unique website visitors per week (SimilarWeb via Pitchbook, as of 05-08-23)
Aims to serve 100,000 students by December 2023 (no base provided)
Private tutoring and test prep are the biggest categories in the developing India/South Asia EdTech market, as startups seek to compensate for uneven teaching in schools and colleges. The opportunity is huge: together, test prep and online certifications make up 88% of the total funding in Indian EdTech startups. More than 15M students prepare for competitive exams such as JEE, NEET, and UPSC, but the majority of test prep courses are expensive which means many students prepare by doing practice problems on their own. Shaktimaan.ai makes this approach affordable and accessible through generative AI, offering detailed evaluation and personalized feedback on students’ handwritten answers to prepare for UPSC, the civil service recruitment exam.
The funds raised will be used to build an LLM to enhance the platform’s capabilities. Swiggy, ixigo, and many other Indian EdTech startups are also competing with this strategy, so the key to Shaktimaan’s success will be developing a top-tier tech stack combined with high-quality proprietary training data and frictionless UX. This could give them the edge over the country’s existing 3,000+ test prep-providing entities.
The Indian EdTech sector saw rapid growth during the Covid-19 pandemic, and is now home to more than 11,000 startups with six unicorns: Byju’s, PhysicsWallah, Vedantu, Eruditus, upGrad and Unacademy (Shaktimaan’s close competitor for government exam prep). In 2021, the sector received $4.73 billion in funding, making it the most funded startup segment in India. But this fundraise comes at a time when the Indian startup ecosystem is going through a sharp contraction amid a 44% decline in funding last year. After laying off 2,500 employees last year, Byju’s cut another 1,500 jobs. While Byju’s wider struggles are well-documented by now, others are also reeling from the impact of the ongoing funding winter and mounting losses. Multiple EdTech startups like Udayy and Lido Learning have shut shop since last year; others have resorted to mass layoffs to cut costs. According to Inc42’s layoff tracker, Indian EdTech startups, including five of the seven unicorns, have laid off more than 9,800 employees since 2021.
A host of EdTech firms are using LLMs to provide personalized learning experiences: most recently, Byju’s announced a suite of AI models for hyper-personalized learning; upGrad has built a GPT-powered chatbot for mock interviews, and is developing a coaching bot; SkillUp Online, which offers online IT certification, is using genAI to drive deeper engagement with learners and immersive teaching assistance. Google-backed Adda247, which also offers government test prep, is going a step further by utilizing AI for content creation (including regional languages) and streamlining doubt-clearing progress. It’s a tough climate.
In the company’s words
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