The previous decade was marked by the rise of the gig economy. Companies like Uber, Lyft, Etsy, TaskRabbit, and of course, Amazon, created flexible work opportunities that previously did not exist. Instead of punching a clock and counting the years in a single organization, the gig economy offered workers freedom and choice. These workers had the choice of driving a cab, delivering packages, fixing leaky pipes, or managing logistics. Freed from the shackles of the dreaded 9-to-5 job, they represented the future of work.
It is now 2020 and that future looks challenging. The downside of the freedom afforded by flexible work opportunity could be underpayment, lack of job security, fluctuating incomes, and minimal incentives and benefits, most of which were painfully realized when COVID-19 came knocking. The one-size-fits-all model of the gig economy homogenizes workers, making it all too easy to hire-and-fire, choke prices, and influence supply. Individuality, contrary to being an asset, could be considered a problem.
Of late, the passion economy has been on the rise. Similar to its counterpart, it offers workers freedom of choice and flexible time management. Further, it allows workers to express their skill sets and personalities through their work. Instead of positioning workers as an anonymous, random, and dispensable enabler of a service, the worker is positioned as a crucial component in the creation of digital products or customized services. The quality of the output is directly correlated to the competence of the worker.
Add to this, the COVID-19 pandemic has given great impetus to the edtech sector in the country. A sector already on the rise pre-pandemic, the edtech sector has been booming, and is expected to balloon, over the next several years. Put together, the rapid emergence of passion economy jobs, and the boom in the edtech sector, have created unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurs. This is where Knorish comes into the picture.
Knorish is an edtech platform that enables hobbyists, professionals and niche experts to build, launch, market, and sell online courses powered by their own brand and as an extension to their own brand. The young startup, founded by Kinner and Rakhi in 2016, has raised two rounds of funding so far - the first cheque from 100X.VC in November 2019, and the second round from a clutch of angel investors and family offices soon after. The platform offers opportunities for a varied set of experts - from 10th grade physics teachers to chefs specializing in Italian cuisine to ballet dancers. Riding the twin waves of edtech and the passion economy, it is enabling hundreds of self-starting entrepreneurs and experts looking to monetize their craft.
The edtech market in India is poised to grow to $3.5 billion by 2022, according to a RedSeers report. Further, the global market size for online learning will be $300 billion by 2025. COVID-19 caused the entire country to go digital in a matter of weeks. Millions of students across age and subject categories became potential users, having no choice but to opt for online education. While market incumbents like BYJU’s and Unacademy certainly gained a lot of traction due to these tailwinds, it also greatly benefited smaller competitors in scaling their businesses.
While the scope of the edtech sector increased in absolute terms, it also broadened qualitatively. An increasing number of people have readily monetized their skillset on platforms like Knorish, especially post lockdown. Gym instructors have taken to teaching yoga, many women have begun teaching cooking, musicians have begun taking guitar lessons online. A hobby or an interest have turned into a monetizable activity. Further, with job and salary cuts felt across the board, many have turned to platforms like Knorish in order to supplement their incomes.
On the other end of the platform, many users have also readily availed themselves of the content created by publishers. Traditional education courses have always been a mainstay of any edtech platform, with students accessing this content to gain additional insights and for specialized mentoring. Post lockdown, however, interest in other course offerings has also spiked. Upskilling is no longer only about academic training; people are looking to learn new skills, hone existing ones, or explore dormant interests they never had the time for. In that sense, COVID-19 has acted as the great equalizer of opportunities. Skills and art forms once available only to the affording and elite can now be accessed at highly competitive rates with the click of a button. Knorish is one such emerging platform.
The Knorish Investment Thesis
100X.VC’s interest and enthusiasm around Knorish stemmed from the founder’s ability and passion for the platform they were building. They were operating in a fast growing market and competing with a clear view on the solutions they were creating for the market. 100X.VC invests first and foremost in founders with a clear idea; Kinner and Rakhi convinced us that they had what it takes.
Knorish’s competitive advantage was that they were unwilling to compromise on quality. They created a powerful and aesthetically pleasing website. They offer publishers hundreds of templates and designs to choose from. Further, their regimented onboarding process and strict content guidelines ensures that all the material on Knorish is of the highest quality.
Knorish’s paid platform was launched in March 2018. When they were funded by 100X.VC, they had made Rs. 30 lac in revenues. With over a 100 publishers and 10,000 users, their platform had certainly shown a great deal of promise. Over the past several months, they have grown manifolds. With an additional round of funding recently, they are on their way to raising a series A round soon. Their journey is upward and onward.
Knorish is a strong platform with a plethora of opportunities for publishers and users. The 100X.VC team will continue to support them in their endeavors to come!