Exclusive: Prime Venture-Backed Startup's AI Tutor Aims To Help Your Kids Learn Better

Ever since OpenAI‘s ChatGPT burst onto the scene, AI has been the talk of the town around the world. In India, the adoption of AI has been impressive and was also praised by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman during his India visit last month.

Several Indian startups have also started making headway in the field of AI and working on incorporating it to cater to India’s unique needs. One such startup that recently made headlines was ZuAI, which announced raising ₹4 crore in a seed funding round led by Prime Venture Partners earlier this month.

We caught up with the founders of the Generative AI startup Anubhav Mishra and Arpit Jain to know more about the company’s plans to leverage AI in India’s edtech space.

ZuAI: The Company

“We are creating ZuAI which is basically an AI-powered self-study buddy for and is curriculum centric,” this is how Anubhav Mishra, co-founder of ZuAI defines the company.

Explaining further on the curriculum-centric approach he added, “ChatGPT or LLMs, in general, have a lot of context; they know a lot sometimes and they also don’t know a lot of stuff. But when you are actually aiming for learning or creating something for learning, which is actually inclined towards helping Kids academically, you have to restrict the knowledge, so that’s where our first USP comes.”

As per Mishra, the company currently has models trained on ICSE and CBSE curriculums and aims to expand and add state boards’ curricula going forward.

“The problem that we are trying to solve is, can we create a self-study buddy that makes learning more interactive, more fun, more engaging and on top of it can it help kids at least, increase the self-study time.”

The Idea

“We started working on it five to six months back. Our strong thesis started to build from the point, where we realised that look, this (AI) is something that is here to stay for a long time and it’s really going to create an impact.

But the more we talked to students, the more we realised that it’s very difficult for anyone to control a language model, or something like ChatGPT, or personalise it to their own use case because there’s a lot of prompt engineering and a lot of other things that are involved, ” this is where Mishra said that ZuAI can come in and help streamline the learning process for kids by creating a curriculum focused AI tutor.

Another problem that he brought up was that the teacher-to-student ratio in India is anywhere between 1:26 to 1:40 . “The problem with one-on-one tutoring is that it has a lot of gaps in terms of availability. So the main problem that we found and looked to solve was can we provide something that is capable of being available 24/7 and just help kids in terms of any doubts.”

The Product

“ZuAI is for classes 4 to 10 based on CBSE and ICSE curriculum. We have a family of bots, and we have tools that let students interact with the bot in such a way that they can use it for quizzing, generating sample papers and previous year papers,” Mishra explained.

“We are kind of nearing around 80,000 installs. On a daily basis we are doing around, 4,500 active users. And, we’re getting some good feedback and some critical feedback also because a lot of times our systems go down because we are still developing the product.”

Mishra added that the platform is available in Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Hindi and other Indian languages and has users from more than 45 cities

The founders also gave Benzinga India a live demo of the product, showcasing how it can be used by kids

Taking us through the process Arpit Jain, Co-founder of ZuAI said that the first step is that users are asked to provide information regarding their class and books etc. “Once you do that, they get a pre-configured dashboard. So here you can go to any particular subject let’s just say Science and you can choose what you want, you can practice for a quiz or for an exam or whether you want an explanation of something or you want notes PDF, anything like that.”

“Let’s say I’m doing homework so I can just click on homework help. I can select the chapter, in which I’m doing the homework right now, click on continue, and then I can normally talk to the board. Just ask it, whatever homework I have, or whatever problems that I have with things that I’m not understanding.”

The platform also has role-play bots, who act as characters from history books or novels and can answer a student’s questions and doubts.

The Pivot

The company was earlier focused on providing financial literacy to the younger generation, but with this new product, the company seems to have made a pivot to a broader space. When asked about the pivot, Mishra said that it is not a hard pivot and added that the core philosophy behind the company remains the same.

“The core philosophy of what we have been doing remains the same vis-a-vis providing a gamified and personalised learning experience. We started with financial literacy. we had a lot of kids using that we have built a decent community and we leveraged that for the current product.

We still have those sections on the app right now so the existing users who want to learn about finance, can go and do it. But it’s just that we saw solving personalisation and education to be a bigger problem.”

The Competition

Over the past few years, the Indian edtech sector has seen a lot of companies come up and make a mark. Companies such as Byju’s, Physicswallah, and Unacademy have even gone off to become unicorns. So we asked the founders what they made off the competition in the sector and how they see it playing out for them.

“We are not after the coaching, tutoring, live classes, or offline classes at all. That’s not the thesis that we have right now. We are creating something that is going to help them in boosting self-study. That’s the key problem that we want to solve, right? we are not looking at creating or replacing tutors or private tutors or tutors or questions in general.

So I would say that just think of it (ZuAI), as a personal assistant, or maybe your personal helper, kind of a thing where, even if whatever learning say, for example, I go to my school, I go to my coaching and come back at nine and I have certain doubts? What do I do then?”

He explained that in that case, a student can simply turn to the AI assistant for help and get answers to all their questions.

Going forward, Mishra said that they are focusing on improving the metrics such as self-study time, helping students better their performance in olympiads and exams, adding that if they are able to achieve these goals, growth would follow.

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Posted In: StartupsExclusivesInterviewAnubhav MishraArpit JainPrime VenturesZuAI

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