Linkstreet Startup: The Case Study Of An Eminently Successful Startup
Vikram Ramakrishnan, the co-founder and director of the renowned Linkstreet startup, has always remembered the moment when he decided to become an entrepreneur, because the day, and the circumstances that led him to decide so can never be erased from his memory. It was the 26th of November, 2008, and being the India operations head of the consulting firm named Booz & Company, he was present at the Trident for an appointment with a client.
26th November, 2008 certainly rings a bell, doesn’t it? Yes, on that fateful day, Pakistan-backed terrorists launched a deadly attack on Mumbai, ruthlessly killing 164 innocent people. Vikram was in a state of trauma for the next few days. “While the Oberoi attack was still on, I had sworn to myself that if I came out alive, I would do things I had always wanted to do” was that fateful decision he had taken that day, and that led to the formation of the Linkstreet startup.
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Vikram survived the Mumbai terror attack, and by the fall of 2011, he was well on his course to live and achieve his dreams. Together with his psychiatrist wife, Vikram set up an academy for children in the Erode-Coimbatore belt situated in Tamil Nadu. Apart from this, he started working with government schools so as to improve the overall quality and standard of education provided in that region. However, an evident lack of quality teachers for the subjects of Science, Maths and English posed a challenge in front of him. At that time, networking equipment company Cisco was working on video-based visual learning solutions to replace normal conventional learning methods. Cisco offered to help Vikram in his search for quality teachers.
Soon, Ramakrishna and Arun Muthukumar, a family friend and an engineering professional who was heading the initiative taken up by Cisco at that time, decided to work together. They recruited a team of teachers from faraway locations in and around Tamil Nadu, including Bangalore. These teachers were supposed to take classes through video conferencing. In the words of Arun Muthukumar “The impact was powerful. The students sat on the floor as the teachers interacted with them from a big screen a few feet away. Absenteeism came down to almost zero and the performance of the students improved dramatically. In fact, they were also ready to attend classes during summer holidays and weekends.”
For this initiative, Cisco donated a few computers, while Vikram and Arun paid the other expenses. “Initially the focus was not to commercialise it, but was more of an effort to give back,” says Vikram Ramakrishnan. The Linkstreet startup works on subscription-based Software as a Service (SaaS) model, was born in March 2011, when the duo set up the back-end infrastructure that would be required to provide online education solutions.
Even before the Linkstreet startup being a year old, Vikram and Arun realised that selling their concept and idea to government schools would pose a huge challenge, whilst private schools would see value. Thus they started a white-labelled platform with an aim to enable end-to-end course offering along with back-end technical support. When renowned cardiac surgeon Dr. Sunita Maheshwari offered an online course in paediatric cardiology, Linkstreet Learning provided the students a platform to sign-up with them, to pay the course fees, take tests and get assessed on the basis of these tests. The Linkstreet startup recorded the class proceedings so that the students could easily access the lessons on their PCs, tabs or even smartphones.
At present, ISB and IIM-B, along with several other academic institutions, have signed up with the Linkstreet startup. The corporate learning space has also been the target of this immensely popular startup. The company has already established professional connections and started working with Columbia Asia, Capillary Technologies Thomson and Reuters.
An undisclosed sum of money was raised from Faering Capital in December 2014 by the Linkstreet startup. Faering Capital is co-promoted by HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh’s son Aditya . Linkstreet’s innovative, cost efficient and cloud-based product has been solving the teaching problem, as well as significantly reducing logistical revenues and training budgets.
The Linkstreet startup has quite a few big names on board. One such name is Ganesh Lakshmi-Narayanan, the MD of Big Data analytics firm Mu Sigma. “It is about making learning personalised and entertaining. It is a category-defining company that will transform learning across the spectrum,” says Ganesh Lakshmi-Narayanan.
Linkstreet does have some competition from the likes of Wiziq, LumQ, and BlackBoard, still the early-mover advantage gives it a slender edge over the others. According to the founders, though Linkstreet has been profitable since it was launched, still the recent fund infusion will certainly help in growing faster. Moreover, the employee number has actually more than doubled from 21 to 50 in the past half year. As it stands now, the Linkstreet startup is sure to go places and get more popular as days go by.