“Redefining Digital Education at Rs. 399”

” The onset of the pandemic brought about a wave of digitization making people realise the importance and the eminent need of knowing and understanding computing skills. During this period, the student community in India faced the biggest brunt in comparison to any other section of society owing to an urgent need to up their computer skills to cope with online schools. There was an urgent need for students to have easy access to a computer in order to fulfil their educational needs, many children used to attend online classes using smart phones however a smart phone has its limitations in helping students fulfil their academic needs especially assignments and other submissions. As per the National Sample Survey report published in 2019, only 8 % of all Indian households have access to a computer and an internet connection primarily because of high price points, followed by expensive maintenance fees to maintain their PCs/laptop. Even if it is assumed that this number doubled when the pandemic hit, it leaves nearly 85% of households without a computer and this glaring figure has had a direct impact on the lives of young students across households. Besides school going children, today every working professional across occupations are expected to have at least a basic understanding of operating and working a computer hence access to a computer is a must in order to help an individual thrive both academically and professionally. Selligion Technology is determined to fill this gap by providing a level playing field to all Indians especially their children by helping them to fulfil their right to digital education to achieve their academic requirements. Selligion provides an affordable subscription based, user-friendly cloud computer to all students to enable them to learn, study, read, code, and create. Selligion with is reasonably priced subscription model is looking at disrupting the existing computing industry  with its unique technology infrastructure and its robust distribution models that aims to provide all Indian households a computer to help them meet with their professional and academic needs ” Ms. Yoshita Sengupta, COO, Selligion Technologies shares more insights on the same.
  1. Briefly, talk about the idea behind creating a hybrid computing system

We started out building a computer that would be advanced yet affordable and that could be made available as a service (monthly subscription model) to Indian homes and students.

When solving for 85-90 per cent of Indian households and students who do not own a computer one must solve for affordability as one key factor which is where our pricing model comes into play. However, one would also need to go deeper and in the long run solve for the cost of hardware replacement/upgrades every 2-3 years and for the cost of device maintenance.

That’s when cloud computing comes into play. Cloud-enabled hardware can, in principle, allow us to deliver upgraded computing capabilities over the internet. That essentially means that the user can get higher RAM, storage, better performance etc. without having to reinvest in another device.

The other part is that when solving for this 85-90 per cent target audience, we cannot take for granted uninterrupted, unlimited availability of high-bandwidth internet. In which case, we would need to build a device that is not entirely cloud-based but enables a user to also make extensive use of the device offline.

That’s what we mean by a Hybrid cloud-based computer.


  1. How is Selligion revolutionizing the education sector? 

As per data released by the government in 2019, only about 8 per cent of Indian homes have computers with Internet access. Even if we liberally assume that the pandemic would have doubled that number with higher adoption, it would still leave close to 85 per cent of households with no computers.

On the other hand, we see an increasing number of edtech platforms, both government and private and an increased focus and adoption of digital education. A lot of this is likely riding on the phenomenal smartphone penetration post-2016. A smartphone served the students well during the pandemic enabling them to continue to access education through virtual classes and educational content. However, by design, smartphones are best suited for passive consumption and not so much for actively creating, exploring, building and learning.

Computers made their way to India’s consumer market in the 1990s and became more accessible in the early 2000s, nearly two decades before the smartphone boom. But the penetration of computing devices is minuscule compared to smartphones. We believe that a large reason for smartphone penetration is due to the pricing models that enabled an average Indian household to first try and then afford it.

We are trying to reduce the entry barrier for an average Indian student and household to access an advanced computer to under Rs.399-499 a month and make the adoption a lot higher, easier and risk-free.

That would then take digital education to the next level where a large percentage of our students would have the opportunity to be native computer users, upskill themselves, actively participate in their own education and have access to equal or better opportunities in the future.

We believe affordable access to computers can do for education what smartphones did for digital payments, e-commerce and content.


  1. An insight into the overall functioning of the hardware and software of the system. 

Based on the insights that led us to build the hybrid cloud-based computer, we created one device and piloted it with users. It has two operating systems. The first is a custom Linux-based Operating System we created that is built into the device which enables students to study, learn, read, write, create, code, watch etc. The second Operating System is Windows which is delivered on the same hardware over cloud. For an average Indian user, we have simplified accessing cloud computing to a point where they just need to click on an icon on the desktop, enter their registered phone number and enter the OTP they receive to start using Windows OS on cloud. Again, like the pricing model we are offering, the phone number and OTP access system is something that an average Indian user today intuitively understands.

Our attempt is to ensure that we can reduce as many barriers to accessing computers as we can, from pricing to maintenance to upgradation to usability.


  1. How will development in cloud computing technologies impact the education sector?

Right now, we are starting at Ground Zero and attempting to cater to a user base that does not have daily access to computers. The starting point to that is innovating on the pricing and hardware accessibility model. Once we can get good quality and affordable devices to Indian households and students, the cloud computing ecosystem we are building will help us deliver advanced and affordable computing capabilities at scale. Imagine this to be much like how telecom has scaled and penetrated deep into the Indian markets at affordable prices.

The users we are deeply committed to catering to are students, a majority of whom either do not have access to advanced digital education or access digital education through passive consumption of educational classes and content over affordable smartphones. Enabling each of these students with a full-fledged computer would lead to them becoming native computer users, actively participating in acquiring new-age skills and learning beyond the passive consumption that smartphone-led education currently delivers.

Our intent is to lend Indian students a level-playing field so they are equipped to capitalise on opportunities in the future where nearly all businesses would either be tech-based or tech-enabled in one way or another. We believe it would also mature and open the Indian markets in the future, much like what smartphones have managed to do for some sectors.


  1. How has the customer response been to the device? 

We haven’t yet launched the device. We opened the pilot on our website through a controlled booking system which would enable us to get the device out to the right users and help us get learnings on the operating systems, user comfort, user requirements, response to the cloud computing experience and of course the pricing model. This would essentially help us get our learnings for the larger, more formal launch.

While we cannot get into the details of the learnings, we have received on the technology front, the response from the consumers on the product demand has been quite phenomenal, almost surprising although it shouldn’t be since this is the sort of demand we believe exists.

We’ve barely spent any budgets on promotions and yet we’ve had to put in place a team very early to answer all the queries and interest pouring in from parents, large organizations, schools and institutions, and from family-run businesses, enterprise owners and small groups requesting to sign them up to become our distributors for communities and cities they operate in. This is from cities across the country from Indore, Lucknow, Chennai, and Pune to Hyderabad, Sikkim, Patiala and Kolkata amongst others.

To us now, there’s no disputing the demand and there’s a clear validation of the pricing model.


  1. Briefly explain the subscription model.

The subscription model is simple, and we’ve intentionally designed it in a way that an average Indian consumer is used to. Currently, we’re running the pilot with a ₹399 a month subscription, and a ₹3,600 refundable deposit, very similar to a cable TV or wired internet plan. The deposit is fully refundable upon the return of the device and we offer a lifetime replacement of the device for technical faults till such time the subscription is active.


  1. Anything else that we would like our readers to know? 

We truly believe that smartphone penetration has been a blessing for a lot of Indian students through the COVID-19 pandemic as it enabled them to, at least in some ways, continue to access virtual classrooms. However, the world we are in would require our students to be familiar with and comfortable using a computer at an earlier age.

To an average parent, we say that acquiring an operational understanding of computers is not very different from acquiring English reading, writing and speaking abilities which many believe is an essential tool to capitalize on opportunities in our maturing economy. This is absolutely not to say that every child needs to learn how to code. This is just to ensure that when a young person enters the economy wanting to be contributing member in any capacity, they at least have a functional knowledge of operating a proper computer which they can use to maximize their core skillsets.

This is essentially what we are seeking to achieve.

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