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In conversation with Rameswar Mandali, Founder of Skill Monks

Today we speak to Rameswar Mandali, Founder & CEO of Skill Monks to understand the journey of Skill Monks and how it is shaping the edtech space through its services.

Read the complete interview here:

TechGraph: Can you tell us more about SKILL MONKS?

Rameswar Mandali: The first of its kind, SKILL MONKS offers a unique integrated marketplace platform in the EdTech space for skill seekers (IT-Working professional, graduates, and college students) as a ‘one-stop’ solution for career discovery in, IT skilling/re-skilling, Govt job preparation and exam preparation.

Officially launched in February 2020, we connect skill seekers and training companies to enable diverse skill development driven by pillars of quality, affordability, and accessibility. SKILL MONKS is an asset-light and scalable model, with an option to meet diverse skilling needs.
SKILL MONKS largely drives diverse skill training needs by partnering with training companies.

TechGraph: How did SKILL MONKS transpire?

Rameswar Mandali: The idea of SKILL MONKS was to address the increasing challenges of career & course discovery faced by graduates and working professionals in India. The industry lacked a scientific career discovery option that enables skill seekers to choose the right course and connect with the right training companies.

We observed that there was a need to provide quality programs that would bridge the gap between industry demands and skilling resources available thereby enhancing career options. The focus on skill seekers ( B2C) is more to enable career discovery and connect to the right training company and deliver quality programs. The platform is designed to facilitate continuous engagement with the skill seeker through their learning lifecycle.

There was also a pressing need to address some of the core issues faced by training companies in the B2B space. Quickly realizing this need SKILL MONKS focused on addressing the lack of automation and digital capabilities, needed to scale up the business and improve the quality of delivery.

With these need gaps in mind, the SKILL MONKS team conducted an extensive 2-3 month market research, reaching out to skill seekers and training companies to understand and identify their pain points. The results of this reaffirmed the skilling challenges we had earlier observed. This led to the inception of SKILL MONKS in the form of an integrated marketplace platform intending to create “Happy Careers.”

TechGraph: What makes SKILL MONKS different from other platforms which are already available in the market?

Rameswar Mandali: SKILL MONKS is India’s first Integrated marketplace platform that provides end to end learning solutions to meet diverse skilling/learning needs for those preparing for higher entrance exams/ Govt Job preparation exams/ study abroad to aspiring and working professionals who want to upskill and reskill themselves in the IT and Digital marketing domain.

The platform promotes a blended learning approach, offering offline and online programs through collaborations with prestigious institutions. Similarly, we support career discovery that aims to support skill seekers to choose the right course that will enhance their career options and also enable them to prepare for dynamic industry needs. Keeping transparency at the core of our business, the SKILL MONKS model offers the least course fee, skill financing options, placement assistance, and certification as well as a 100% Quality assurance if quality standards are not met.

TechGraph: How do you ensure a personalized learning experience for each student?

Rameswar Mandali: We focus on the personalization of career discovery and training partner connect so that skill seekers choose the right program based on their specific skilling requirement. Understanding whether they would require a certification program, placement assistance/ placement guarantee, or an executive program, we personalize the process of finding the most relevant and ideal training company for them.

To further strengthen the career discovery process we have our Adviser offering, where industry experts and subject matter specialists help skill seekers by advising on current industry trends, competencies, and skills that must be honed to enhance their job prospects. With 100 Advisers on-board, we are continuously working to ensure skill seekers are provided with holistic industry information that will help in their career discovery and enhancement.

TechGraph: Could you please shed light on SKILL MONKS’ innovative product offerings?

Rameswar Mandali: SKILL MONKS offers a differentiated and diverse approach to learning, with skilling at the core of all our solutions. Understanding that the pace of digital learning has accelerated, our platform supports hybrid learning. Providing choices for offline, online, and device-based learning programs.

We have 250+ skilling courses provided by training companies with the duration of the courses ranging from a minimum of 1 month to a maximum of 12 months. Another key offering is the choices of programs available to skill seekers depending on their skilling needs. From certification courses to exam preparation, upskilling, or placement assistance/guarantee programs – the platform ensures that all stages of career discovery needs are met. To meet some of the emerging demand of working professionals we have also added high-quality executive programs offered by Institutions in India and Overseas.

The upskilling and exam preparation landscape does not come without its financial challenges. To support skill seekers in financial assistance, SKILL MONKS provides a skill financing option through its collaboration with major skill financing companies. Skill seekers have the facility to avail collateral-free loans with 100% online disbursals which can be y paid in easy installments over some time. This alleviates the significant financial stress for skill seekers and enables them to choose quality training or skilling program.

SKILL MONKS adds value to the entire skilling ecosystem and extends support to the training companies that come on-board and. Our IMS – Institute Management Solution is a SaaS-based offering for training companies enabling their digital transition and business automation. Through the IMS suite of offerings, training companies can manage course content, communicate directly with students, and manage their operations efficiently. Webinars and Tech talks are some of the other tools which help in providing relevant updates on the industry trends and developments to skill seekers.

TechGraph: What are your plans around up-skilling and new products/formats?

Rameswar Mandali: At SKILL MONKS we continuously engage with skill seekers during their learning journey. Our tech offering and human intervention in terms of Apps, access to information, and customer engagement to understand their evolving needs and intelligence from data available with us enable us to reach out to skill seekers for up-selling and cross-selling opportunities. This meaningful and tech and human interaction offers programs to stay relevant in the industry. Once a customer of SKILL MONKS, the approach is to become a skilling partner for life.

TechGraph: EdTech businesses seem to have benefited from COVID-19. Why do you think that is happening?

Rameswar Mandali: The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown posed challenges to EdTech companies in many ways like investments in infrastructure to automate operations, increased digital marketing efforts, online delivery, and dealing with connectivity and user experience issues. Amidst all the challenges, companies transformed this adversity into an opportunity to shift focus to digital learning. Against the backdrop of thousands of educational institutions across India being shut, EdTech players assisted students/ skill seekers in continuing their education through online modes of learning.

Additionally, the lockdown witnessed many working professionals adopt remote working capabilities, allowing them more time to pursue upskilling programs to improve on their capabilities and competencies. The sector is now focussed on relevant product offerings, hybrid learning models, proctoring software for objective assessment, and access to quality learning for skill seekers from anywhere at any time.

TechGraph: What kind of growth did SKILL MONKS register during this pandemic?

Rameswar Mandali: We launched our services commercially in Feb 2020. Post the launch we had to bear the brunt of lockdown and quickly rejig our strategy. Our digital and online efforts paid rich dividends. We have onboarded close to 150 training companies and top of the line skill financing companies. Some of the leading brands like IMARTICUS, talentsrpint, Simplilearn, Edureka, Great learning, testbook, Endeavour, CAREERERA, Digital Vidya are on the platform. Leading skill financing companies like propelled, ZestMoney, Credit Fair, eduvanz, Liquiloans are on the platform.

We have close to 8000 registered users, 50000 plus followers on social media, million-plus followers through partner affiliations. We have generated GMV revenue of INR 75 Lakhs and extended close to INR 18 Lakhs of skill financing loan during the period ( Feb to Dec 2020). We have signed with 10 Enterprise customers for IMS SaaS solution during the period Nov – Dec2020

TechGraph: Do you see the current market as a zero-sum game between SKILL MONKS and your competitors or there is room for everyone to grow together?

Rameswar Mandali: We are a marketplace platform and therefore we are an enabler rather than being a competitor. We co-exist and our unique positioning provides a platform for training companies to scale up and reach out to larger segments and diverse audiences.

TechGraph: What does the future hold for SKILL MONKS?

Rameswar Mandali: The future looks very promising as we aim to become the preferred marketplace platform in the EdTech space. Our vision is to be a one-stop solution for diverse skilling needs and not just restricted to education. As a part of our future roadmap, we will diversify our offerings to bring in technology and human touch to add value to our customers in their skilling/learning journey. Industry/ corporate connect and overseas expansion are a part of our future growth plans.

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