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GradeStack secures funding from Times Internet; Revenue share & in-app payments

GradeStack Logo

Mobile-focused education marketplace GradeStack has raised an undisclosed amount of investment from Times Internet Limited. This is the company’s second round of investment from Times Internet after previously receiving seed funding of Rs 10 lakhs (for 10% stake) while being part of TLabs’ Summer 2013 batch.

Started in 2013, GradeStack partners with educational publishers to create mobile friendly courses with interactive content. It offers these courses through Android apps and the web, with an iOS app releasing by the end of April. GradeStack claims to currently offer more than 30 courses, adding 8-10 courses every month and hopes to increase this to 100 courses by June this year.

It currently offers a mixture of free and freemium courses and has tie-ups with International publishers like Cengage Learning, Nova Press, Edupristine among others and Indian content providers like Unique Publishers. It also has tie-ups with coaching institutes like Career Power and AOC for content. GradeStack co-founder Shobhit Bhatnagar claims that they have also signed 12-15 content partnerships in the last couple of months whose courses are expected to go live in the next few weeks.

GradeStack co-founder Vibhu Bhushan told Medianama that they work on a revenue share model with these content providers, wherein GradeStack provides 30% of the revenues to the content provider, keeping the remaining 70% of the revenues. GradeStack will be responsible for the technology and distribution of these mobile apps.

GradeStack Course Store App & Dedicated Course Apps

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The course store app works like any e-book reader app, allowing users to browse through various courses and download any course of their preference, which is then added to the user’s library. One can then open this course to start reading the course chapters or take tests.

GradeStack Homescreen GradeStack Courses

While the company’s focus is the course store app, it also offers dedicated Android apps for specific topics like Java Programming, General Knowledge, Maths and competitive exams like SSC, IIT JEE, GRE and CAT among others, which will allow users to browse through courses, tests and quizzes in that specific topic. This is meant to target customers who are looking for apps on specific topics or exams.

Besides course material, each app also has a weekly leaderboard and a discussion section which allows users to post a question or add an answer to any of the existing questions. It also includes a link to the main GradeStack course store app, in hopes that users will later download the main store app to browse through other apps.

GradeStack claims to have registered a cumulative 400,000 downloads across more than 30 courses since it went live eight months ago and hopes to reach 1 million downloads by June 2014.

In-App Payments

What’s worth noting here is company is using a third-party gateway (PayTM Payments) for payment rather than using Google’s in-app payment system. Bhushan told they went with a third-party payment gateway since Google Play only supports credit cards right now, whereas the credit card penetration is still low in India.

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GradeStack Payments

However, when they launch the iOS app, they will be using iTunes’ in-app purchase mechanism since Apple doesn’t allow any other third party payment mechanism for iOS apps. We feel the company could also offer an additional carrier billing option to users by tying up with any of of the carrier billing aggregators like Boku or Fortumo.

Earlier this month, it was also reported that Apple had extended its iBooks Textbooks and iTunes U Course Manager to India. Kaizen & Bertelsmann-backed Authorgen which operates the online education platform WizIQ had also introduced live classrooms on iOS & Android in December 2013.

Updates: Added more information in the revenue share bit.

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