Shantanu Prakash is a first generation entrepreneur who has almost single handedly re-defined the concept of education delivery in India using the power of technology. Shantanu Prakash commands immense respect across the business spectrum for his visionary impact on the education sector.
An entrepreneur at heart from his college days, the idea for an education based business was conceived by Shantanu while pursuing his MBA at the Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad, in the late eighties. At a time when information technology was still nascent in India, Shantanu saw that the education sector in India represented a unique opportunity which would not only allow him to make classroom teaching more interesting but also offer a qualitative advancement to the very process of imparting education.
Sparking interest in education was his understanding of the fact that while India remained one of the most education-sensitive country, there were huge problems in the delivery and outcomes of the process. Children in schools were largely taught in the same way as was done a century ago. Schools were slow to change and adopt best practices. The sector was over regulated, and pedagogy was almost stuck in the last century. As Shantanu saw it back then, education was a field where qualitative advancement has been the slowest.
He firmly believed that education had the power to transform India in every aspect whether it was social development, economic growth, human capital, market economy, knowledge economy and technology. While Shantanu was convinced about the vast potential of the education market, he also understood that IT-based education was the way forward and that it represented a big business opportunity primarily because of its scalability. Shantanu’s chief objective was to produce better learning outcome among the students, which remained heavily dependent on a good teacher who had the ability to inspire students. Knowing that there would always be a paucity of really good and inspiring teachers, Shantanu envisioned that technology would allow him to combine best practices and make it accessible to a large number of students. In India particularly, the challenge was always going to be about size verses resources and Shantanu’s belief paid off since technology is now becoming the crucial equalizing element that can bridge disparities and other social and economic inequalities.
Refusing plum positions in MNCs and leading companies through campus placements after completing his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, Shantanu founded Educomp in 1992 with a seed fund of Rs. 1 lakh, basing his enterprise model on a B2B platform. He began by approaching leading private schools in big cities to convince them of the importance of introducing their students to computer technology. The first offering from Educomp was turnkey solution for outsourcing IT integration in schools where the hardware/software, maintenance and teachers training were all Educomp’s responsibility. This gradually became very popular and Educomp signed on many leading schools like Carmel Convent, Mothers International, Delhi Public School etc.
Shantanu then scaled up this service and his company began participating in large government projects for spreading computer literacy in the earlier phase and then computer aided learning in government schools. To this day, “Bridging the Digital Divide” is one of Educomp’s key areas of operation which is focused on making Education more meaningful, relevant and contemporary for the have-nots of the social spectrum.
Under Shantanu’s leadership, Educomp sparked off a trend and has achieved the unique distinction of putting the education business in India on the centre stage of global attention. Educomp is today India’s number one education company, credited with most major innovations in K12 education sector in India. Shantanu is an acknowledged though leader in the education space and recognized for leading Educomp’s efforts in research, creating original IP and solving critical education problems.
Along that way, as Shantanu and his team understood the key problem areas in the education space, Educomp began to exclusively focus on IP led, research based growth (Educomp today has the largest spend on R&D in private education space) by developing pioneering products designed to specifically address those problem areas. Educomp’s products like Smart Class and now Smartclass Pro, English Mentor, Educomp Insight, SmartStem etc. are revolutionizing the way children study in classrooms and a product like Mathguru, Uniclass and Genius Box, the way children study at home. Educomp has a solution for almost every part of the education supply chain – from pre-schools to schools to skill based higher education.
Over the years Shantanu and his team have been at the forefront of pioneering education initiatives – from computer education in early nineteen nineties, computer-aided learning in late nineteen nineties to internet based education in the new millennium to personalised one on one to next generation collaborative and cloud based learning, which will be the focus in the times to come.
Some of the recent awards/honour conferred on Shantanu Prakash include The DataQuest Path Breaker Award, Dare Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year – Jury’s Choice, The ET Now Leap of Faith award for Education, ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ at Indian Education Awards, the National Awards on Excellence in Education as well as the Wisitex Foundation Educationist of the Decade Award.
Shantanu has become a role model for many aspiring entrepreneurs in the country today. His successful entrepreneurial journey has been chronicled in a book titled ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’ by Rashmi Bansal published in May 2008 which has been a best seller ever since.
Shantanu is also the founder and Managing Trustee of the Learning Leadership Foundation (LLF), an organization dedicated to bringing best practices in education to under-resourced schools. He is on the board of trustees of over 30 educational institutions and on the international advisory board of Fundacao Dom Cabral, Brazil and a member of the Global Agenda Council on Emerging Multinationals with the World Economic Forum.
As an investor, Shantanu has made several investments in innovative early stage and mid stage companies focusing on the internet, education, media, gaming, finance and infrastructure.
Shantanu is a charter member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) an organization that connects entrepreneurs. He is a frequent speaker in education and business conferences worldwide