Online education platform CollegeDekho has launched offline counselling centres, called CollegeDekho Cafes, in Lucknow, Patna, Guwahati and Ranchi. It plans to launch these centres in other cities in the near future. Students can avail personal education counselling and recommendations for colleges and universities and/or courses. The company currently claims to have a database of 22,000 colleges and 500,000 visitors monthly.

Funding: Last month, the Gurgaon based company raised $2 million in funding from Man Capital. It would be used for upgrading its technology, acquiring new talent, marketing activities and onboarding more colleges. In December last year, the company raised seed funding worth $1 million from GirnarSoft, the parent company of CarDekho, which would be used for development of the platform, building its team and marketing.

Other companies who have ventured in the offline space recently:
– In March, MobiKwik launched the ‘Explore Nearby’ feature on its app, which let users discover neighbourhood stores, restaurants, cafes which accepted MobiKwik payment.
– In February, Big Bazaar Direct, the ecommerce arm of retail provider big Bazaar, tied up with Oxigen to let Oxigen’s retailers sell goods from Big Bazaar Direct through Oxigen’s platform at physical stores.
– In the same month, Paytm tied up with offline players in the mobile and electronic appliances sector to list their stores on its e-commerce marketplace.
– A month before that, digital payments company TranServ partnered with Ratnakar Bank to offer physical VISA prepaid cards.
– In January, online fashion retailer Yepme launched its first brick-and-mortar store in the Delhi/NCR region.
– Interestingly, BharatMatrimony also had 180 offline centres in 20 cities as of 2014. The company charges for its premium services in these centres.

Online to offline ventures in ecommerce:
– In February, Flipkart launched Spotlight to let sellers including SMEs, artisans and other businesses list their products on the platform.
– Amazon also launched a similar service called ‘Amazon Tatkal’ that would enable small and medium businesses to list and sell their products online.
– In October last year, Snapdeal introduced ‘Janus’, a multi channel platform where users could discover, buy, same day local delivery, get value added services and returns at a store near them.
– In August 2015, Flipkart launched 20 centres across 10 cities in India, in conjunction with its logistics partner Ekart, where users could pick up their products from.

Developments in online education:
– Last month, Finland based edtech startup Claned raised $1.46 million to roll out operations in India.
– In March, Byju’s Learning raised $75 million.
– Same month, Pune-based Maharashtra Institute of Technology launched an accelerator called Eduglid for education technology startups.
– In January, Amazon India launched Exam Central where users could get access to sample question papers, solved papers and articles from academicians for entrance exams.

Also read: Opening offline stores will supplement online m-commerce: BeaconStac report