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Pune-based Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) has set up India's first education technology (edtech) accelerator called Edugild. The accelerator will be the first one in India to focus only on the education sector. Edugild will conduct two batches every year. Under the Edugild programme, start-ups will receive seed funding worth Rs 15 lakh in return for a minority stake (sub 10%). It will also provide mentorship and guidance regarding instituting a start-up, pitching to venture capitalists (VCs), business management and customer acquisition, marketing and help in scaling up business. "India's education technology space has the potential to create multiple unicorn companies and Edugild will lead the way. At the Pune facility, the entire ecosystem and infrastructure is ready for the edtech ideas to be nurtured, mentored, funded and launched. We want to take a step further and see to it that these edtech ideas actually become sustainable businesses and enhance learning for the larger interest of the society," said Rishi Kapal, CEO, Edugild. In its first year, the programme received applications from 300 entrepreneurs' focused on the education sector from all over India. Of these, Edugild has selected four companies for its accelerator programme. The shortlisted start-ups include Pune based Classboat, which helps students to find and select classes in the city, and Instafeez, a Bengluru based start-up which has developed a payment solution and their services also provide a seamless fee reconciliation platform.
In the larger scheme of things, Instafeez will evolve as a hub for college and school accessories by integrating payments and reconciliation of all vendors. The third start-up is Delhi-based Simulanis that uses 3D gaming and augmented reality based tools for engineering learning. Mumbai-based Gradopedia, founded by Hitesh Awtaney, is a start-up dedicated for graduates to experience simulated job profiles of their aspirations and then make a wise choice of the career paths to pursue.These start-ups will undergo a four month acceleration process at Edugild during which time they will receive seed funding, access to mentors and testing facilities. They will further be coached and mentored by senior and successful industry leaders who would provide their expertise to encourage the spirit of innovation, challenges and risk-taking. Edugild will be among the few accelerator programmes in India which is vertical focused. Some of the other accelerators that have vertical focus include Surge, that focuses on companies in the energy sector, mobile accelerator Tandem, which expanded into India and focuses on business on mobile, and GSF's recently launched mobile accelerator 2. The Indian market for technology based education market is expected to reach up to $40 billion by 2017, from the present $20 billion. The target market for education and related services is of 1.2 billion people. India has one of the largest education systems in the world with a network of more than 1 million schools and 18,000 higher education institutions Other than a tie-up with Cisco for mentorship and networking access, MIT Edugild has mentors such as Apurva Chamria, AVP & global business head-brand & digital marketing at HCL Technologies, Manish Upadhyay, co founder of Liqvid, AG Rao, group managing director at Manpower Group, Sanjay Dhande, former director of IIT Kanpur and Nilesh Vani, EVP and Chief of Strategy & IT at Aptech.