27 April 2018, Bengaluru. Utter (formerly known as Sling App), a Pune-based multilingual mobile education platform to improve English and Workplace Skills for India’s digital blue-collar workforce, announced today that it has raised INR 5.5 crore investment from Unitus Ventures, India’s leading impact venture fund investing in early-stage startups innovating for the masses and angel investors. With this funding, Utter aims to target 1 million paid learners by December 2020 and expand internationally in USA, Europe and South Asia through telecom and reseller partnerships.
“Unitus Ventures’ investment is enabling us to build a strong B2B pipeline of business, globally. We now plan to use a combination of funding and revenues to build an effective base of profitable training mandates from large Institutional customers,” said Ninad Vengurlekar, CEO and Cofounder of Utter.
“We are thrilled to be working with Utter to support their growth. A combination of AI, multilingual chatbots, and packaged content, catering to the exponentially growing digital blue collar workforce worldwide, Utter offers a huge opportunity to achieve global scale with profitable unit economics and social impact,” said Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, Partner at Unitus Ventures.
Rise of the Digital Blue Collar Worker in the Internet Economy
India has more than 400 million people in the unorganised and blue-collar segment. Traditionally, this section of workers had no access to classrooms, significantly limiting their skilling options and on-the-job productivity. With the emergence of digital blue collar workers like app-based cab drivers, food delivery workers, e-commerce delivery staff etc, the smartphone and internet economy is slowly organising this unorganised sector. But, training to improve productivity of this massive influx of into the formal economy is lacking. In India alone, 78 per cent of the workforce is blue collar and only 22 per cent is white collar. Yet, nearly all e-learning platforms are targeted towards white collar workforce alone.
Utter addresses this challenge through its AI-based multilingual mobile-education platform, which uses a combination of chatbots and live tutors to offer byte-sized micro-learning content (each module being <10 minutes) for workplace skills and English. Utter empowers the blue-collar workforce by providing on-demand skill learning in more than 109 local languages through smartphones at a very low cost of INR 30 per month.
500,000 Institutional Users in Less than Six Months – Utter’s Success Story
In less than six months, Utter has successfully clocked 500,000 institutional (B2B) and 100,000 retail (B2C) learners and is inching towards profitable unit economics. Utter’s impact is already seen in the average time users spend on the app – a typical institutional learner spends between 3-½ to 4 hours on the app every month and an active retail learner spends an average 55-60 minutes – both above industry standards.
“The Utter model of smartphone based micro learning has a huge potential for a country like India with millions of freshers and blue-collar learners that can be trained to improve their productivity and career opportunities at a fraction of the cost of traditional online education and classroom programs,” said Amit Bhadbhade, CTO and Co-founder of Utter.
The phenomenal growth of chat platforms coupled with low-cost access to 4G data is increasingly making learning on chat via smartphones, acceptable and highly effective. Utter’s success story lies in the wide appeal of its learning platform to both institutional and retail learners. It’s content is available in 109 local languages at 1/5th of the cost and 1/3rd the price of traditional online education platforms. Courses can be published on the platform in less than 30 days and content upgrades/changes can be done within 48 hours allowing companies to save tremendous time, money and efforts in online training.
Shrikant Rasane, Director and Co-founder of Seed Infotech, an IT Training company using traditional classrooms to train over 50,000 IT professionals every year, says –
“SEED is using the Sling platform as a part of integrated blended learning model to train our students in job preparedness in IT companies. We use it as a Mobile Anytime available Mentor for our students. The platform also offers us opportunities to go beyond the classrooms and additionally reach thousands of IT graduates across the country.”
In the last year alone, Utter has been able to close partnerships with top institutional customers in India like TCS-ION, Reliance Retail, Betterplace Solutions, Goli Vada Pav, Hippocampus Learning, IL&FS Education, and Seed Infotech to name a few. More recently, Utter has also signed up with global telecom operators in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Qatar, Thailand and Kuwait for promoting English learning to their 100 million smartphone users.
Utter’s Global Growth Plans
Utter is focusing on global growth through B2B reseller partnerships with training providers and telecom operators. In the next three years, it is aiming to target 1 million paid learners globally. In addition, Utter is now building AI and Machine Learning capabilities from its bank of over 20 million chatbot interactions on the platform so far.
About Utter App
Utter uses multilingual chat bots with a combination of text, audio, images, GIFs and videos to train learners in a byte sized conversational format. The app delivers content in 109 languages for English learners and can be customised to deliver workplace skills training in all Indian languages. Learners can interact with live tutors inside the app to resolve their doubts and practice the language in the privacy of their homes.
Utter is an Edtech venture launched by education technology veterans from Harvard Graduate School of Education and Lancaster University, with a combined educational experience of 25 years between them. The co-founders are pioneers in mobile learning since 2008, and have built scalable mobile learning products for over 3 million paid subscribers. More about Utter >
About Unitus Ventures
Unitus Ventures is the leading impact venture fund investing in startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus Ventures invests in sectors including healthcare, education, and financial services. Founded in 2012, Unitus Ventures is managed by Capria Ventures which is part of the Unitus Group, a premier financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000. Unitus Ventures is based in Bangalore and Seattle and is a member of the Capria Network.