Redeminds is an end-to-end career guidance platform for school students that blends AI & behavioral sciences to offer a personalized map that empowers students to discover their true potential and help build skills for the world of the future. Redeminds ensures that the career recommendations aren’t just theoretical beacons (backed by data and assessments), but are also a real-world immersive bridge of skills for occupations that will be relevant when the child graduates. Mr. Shiv Patnaik, Co-founder, Redeminds share more insights on the same
- Tell us about your professional journey and venturing into entrepreneurship.
Throughout my professional journey, I have moved across industries and roles – deliberately enhancing my exposure to different industries and hopefully eliminating the ones I did not like. However, one common theme: I wanted to build products that made people’s lives easier and perhaps more fulfilling. I moved from telecom engineering to coding and development, cryptography and card encryption to product and operations. I have had the opportunity to contribute to reputable organizations such as BSNL, Infosys, AB InBev, and Lowe’s, to name a few. In the midst of my career, I ventured back into education. I completed my MBA from ISB, Hyderabad. I would also teach at Make a Difference, Bhumi, and BareFoot Foundation over weekends between work.
During my stint at Lowe’s, I interacted with some prolific leaders and start-up founders who were solving relevant problems. Through my interactions, I understood the intricacies of bringing structure to innovation, building an idea from scratch and the importance of product-market fit before developing a solution. Inspired, I decided to work on something I was deeply passionate about – creating a career discovery platform for children, a problem that plagued me as a child.
Today, so many children in Tier II and Tier III cities lack primary exposure to the myriad of career choices in the current time frame and career choices that would be relevant a decade later. I wanted to address this issue and build an affordable single-stop career counseling platform that schools could leverage to bring in career counseling capabilities quickly. By leveraging technology and behavioral sciences, I wanted to ease the personal career discovery journey for children and make it more data-based, minimizing parental/environment biases in career selection.
Here began the journey of Redeminds in 2021. It started as a weekend/garage project with a small three-member team building the prototype and eventually resulted in me quitting Lowe’s to join full-time. We were fortunate to be backed early on by prolific founders Nishant and Neha Patel of Contentstack, a global leader in the CMS space, and very recently have managed to close our angel round of USD 220K.
- What was the thought behind launching Redeminds?
Firstly, it is 2022, and we believe this changing world demands students to be more than just the cookie-cutter outcome of academic factories. Career paths are immensely personal, and generic solutions don’t cut.
Growing up in a household of doctors, the only profession I had an idea about was that of a doctor, primarily through the interactions with my father, who is an orthopedic surgeon. However, hemophobia and failure to get through one of the coveted government colleges through the medical entrance exams made me drop the dream of becoming a doctor. The next bankable career option, based on my family’s and my limited understanding of careers, was that of an engineer. Like me, Nabarupa Chatterjee, the co-founder of Redeminds, had a similar journey. Coming from a family of CA’s, she was also compelled to choose a CA’s career. You get the drift. It is a story that millions of children and adults in India go through.
It would have helped immensely at some point to have someone empirically assess our abilities and personality type to map them to potential career choices, choices that would be relevant in the changing world, and perhaps provide us insights on what progression on those career paths would look like.
To drive the point home for us were statistics from a Business Insider report on Structural Unemployment pointing out that a staggering 80% of engineers in India are unemployable and that a measly 1.5% of engineers in India have the required skills for new-age jobs. It made us wonder why this was the case when all these engineers went through a 4-year curriculum designed to instill in them the technical skills necessary for the job! One potential reason could have been a low proportion of engineers taking up hands-on projects in line with the curriculum or doing internships, but an obvious but overlooked reason was the inadequate mapping of skills (a function of both nature and nurture) to career choices in the first place.
- What was the market gap that you were looking to address?
Career counseling has been prevalent for the past two-three decades, with users having to sit for 4-5 hours submitting responses to 200-300 questions through pen and paper. The pen-paper format meant that the test was not adaptive. Market research and surveys have pointed out that the attention span of early teenagers is a mere 28-40 minutes, and this drops drastically further if they are subjected to these lengthy questionnaires. The obvious is a loss of attention which would undoubtedly result in inaccurate responses to questions and hence an inaccurate report of the user’s personality or ability. Career counseling has not evolved much principally but has become more digital. It is the same psychometric test as a questionnaire with its never-ending list of questions that fails in the way it did earlier. We, at Redeminds, wanted to change this.
We wanted to tackle the gaps related to the awareness of current and future relevant career choices as well as empower children with the ability to map a personalized career path for themselves. Additionally, we have extended an immersive program that offers an experiential understanding of a career so that children (and their parents) could experience the career option that is best suited for them.
Thus, the idea for Redeminds emerged as a B2B2C platform housing a suite of career counseling products to partner with schools that wanted to set up their in-house career counseling capabilities quickly.
- What is your unique selling proposition, and why do you feel you have the opportunity to win?
Based on our market research, there are many products in the fragmented world of career counseling, but most of these are dumbed-down versions of assessments built for adults that are simpler for children. A strengthsfinder questionnaire or a personality psychometric was designed for adults and then merely simplified for children, but none of these products was designed keeping children in mind. Children’s engagement levels on these assessments were naturally low; therefore, the subsequent insights provided were inaccurate.
Keeping the user in mind (11-15 years old children), we have tailor-made an Ability Assessment that is in the format of an adaptive RPG game whereby the player goes through a quest with different challenges. These challenges evolve basis the choices the player makes, all the while helping us gauge their choices to extrapolate a 360-degree evaluation of the player.
We offer a gamified ability assessment to map abilities and strengths to potential career pathways that aren’t just relevant now but could be relevant in the future. This holistic report is then supplemented by qualitative feedback from top child counselors who factor in inputs from children and their parents in the form of interviews. Our job doesn’t stop here. Our platform then offers a unique opportunity to experience a chosen job role by solving a relevant problem for a partner corporate industry leader across a wide range of industries. Students can experience career streams in technology, finance, digital marketing, design or entrepreneurship, to name a few.
- Tell us about the role that AI plays in your business.
AI, Data, and cognitive sciences are equally essential on our platform. One such vital instance is our flagship Ability Assessment game, which maps skills to career choices based on the student’s capabilities and areas of interest. Our career recommendation engine has been built on training data sets from many databases of numerous strengthsfinder, ability, and personality assessments. Our career recommendation engine is designed to learn and evolve as more students appear for this test.
But, as we strongly believe in the intervention of the human touch, we do not entirely rely on AI. We bring in counseling experts who factor in the parent’s inputs with the intent to supplement ability assessment reports for a holistic understanding of students. After a careful examination of all these factors, we, with our team of experts, curate a detailed recommendation on best-fit career pathways for the student. The pilot programs in the product’s MVP stage yielded very encouraging feedback and a very high net promoter score from the schools we partnered with.
- In your opinion, what is the future of EdTech as an industry in the post-COVID world? What new technology trends do you see surfacing?
Based on my experience so far, I foresee exciting possibilities in India:
- Immersive Learning: There appears to be a promise in AR and VR technologies that simulate real-life situations offering far more value than a traditional classroom setup. For instance, a tour through Maruti’s car manufacturing plant in Manesar could come alive when a student puts on a VR headset. Or perhaps imagine using the Google Earth VR for virtual field trips for students.
- Use of big data for a hyper-personalized experience: Once instructors have historical data on students (learning behaviors through internet-based learning), they can draw inferences on how each student might know best. Self-paced online courses already do this, but we will see further evolution in this trend to address areas of opportunity like providing personalized support to struggling students or providing insights to instructors to tweak content that is not sticky with class participants.
- Greater importance to 360-degree development: With the government’s push through the New Education Policy coupled with the need of employers for more skilled workers, there is bound to be a greater focus on educational programs and frameworks that lays more emphasis on practical knowledge and extracurriculars (a category that will get its due importance in the coming years). Capstone projects and experiential learning will become essential to the school curriculum.
- Increased importance to community learning: Students are increasingly looking for an interactive experience as they learn from their own homes, experiences where there is peer feedback, and an opportunity to cement learning through peer interactions.
- The use of gamification to expedite learning: Dumbed-down versions of products or psychometrics made for adults will not make the cut anymore. Engagement is critical, and hence assessments and learning tools in the form of games are going to become central to learning. I also foresee the increased usage of leader boards, reward systems, and competitive assessments to encourage learning outside the classroom.