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Bringing Students And Colleges Together

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The Common Admission Test (CAT), a gate pass to India’s top management institutes, is set to be held in November. Tens of thousands of MBA aspirants appearing in the test, organised by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), are clear where they want to study. But not all of them will be able to secure seats at IIMs and those unsuccessful will have to look for other options.

This search to find a suitable college or institute that can match a student’s aspirations can be full of hassles. Keeping this in mind, a tech entrepreneur has set up an online platform that helps students find a good place to study.

IndiaCollegeSearch is not just about MBA colleges. Over one crore students in India enter college every year and most of them need to make a choice of college based on a variety of reasons. India's first college search and application platform is ready with its list of information about 10,000 colleges across 31 courses of study.

Anirudh Motwani, founder and chief executive officer of IndiaCollegeSearch, is a consumer web enthusiast with more than five years of experience in the field. He worked at Digital Satellite in the UAE, Tech Mahindra and Cvent before founding IndiaCollegeSearch. Motwani holds a bachelor's degree in software engineering from BITS Pilani, Dubai, and handles product development and marketing at ICS.

In an interview, Motwani talked about his venture and how it helps students.

What made you start IndiaCollegeSearch?
ICS was born out of personal pain. A lack of access to decision-enabling information about colleges such as faculty, placements, fees, infrastructure and campus life meant that our awareness was limited to the 3-4 per cent colleges covered by traditional media rankings.

Please give us a brief intro of ICS. How does it work for students and universities?
IndiaCollegeSearch is the country's largest education platform used by over two million students and 5,000-plus colleges. Our algorithm sorts colleges on a variety of quantitative and qualitative factors to provide a student with the most relevant results. ICS also allows a student to compare colleges and get access to alumni reviews. It is currently the #1 education portal in India by views and engagement and processes over one college application every minute.

Nowadays, every college has its own website, why should people come to your website? In fact, IIM alumni also provide guidance to the aspirants.
At present, less than 50 per cent of colleges in India have a website. The ones that do primarily speak about vision and mission rather than offering decision-enabling parameters to students such as student-faculty ratio and in-depth placement information.

In other verticals where most companies have a career page or hotels have a website, yet users prefer to use Naukri  or Makemytrip where they can evaluate all options. On average, each student on ICS applies to 4-5 colleges.

Do you have any tie-up with universities listed on to your website?
Over 5,000 colleges and universities on ICS maintain their profiles on the platform and accept applications via the platform. Of these, more than a hundred pay ICS for products ranging from data, analytics, featured listings and an application management tool.  Our clients are spread across 15 states and include almost all leading universities in India such as Chandigarh University, Symbiosis, Alliance, LBSIM and Shiv Nadar University.

Who has funded ICS?
It is an Indian Angel Network's (IAN) incubatee company, which has graduated from the IAN incubator and has raised investment from IAN, Asia's largest network of angel investors. This round of investment was led by IAN investor members, Vikram Kant Upadhyaya, Anupam Mittal and Varun Khurana. Vikram Kant Upadhyaya and Varun Khurana also join ICS’s board. IAN is our alma mater - helped us build ICS from a concept to a live and growing business. IAN's trust in (co-partner) Parul and me has been hugely reassuring and I am sure we will build ICS amongst IAN's star companies.

What is the source of revenue?
The platform is free for students (including search, comparison and application). Colleges and universities can also use the platform for free to maintain their profile, update events, respond to reviews and receive and process applications. As stated above, we earn revenue from more than a hundred colleges and universities who pay us for products ranging from data, analytics, featured listings (to increase quality and quantity of applicants) as well as our application management tool.

How does ICS assist in admissions and the challenges faced by students and universities?

The objective of our platform is that students should be able to get best and most updated info in one place and it should have the ability to filter.  For instance, if someone wants to do Aeronautical Engineering or an MBA specifically in Entrepreneurship, ICS is the only place they can find out what colleges offer this branch. It also saves students the hassle of running around to apply to each college by offering them direct applications to over 5,000 colleges.

For colleges, we have increased the visibility of a particular event or course by 300-400 per cent. We also enable them to reduce lag time and errors in processing their applications by allowing them to import or export offline applications and manage in one place.

Do you charge for assistance or counselling from students or universities?
No, we cannot do counselling due to the huge volume of applications via ICS (more than 1,000 a day).

What is the user base of ICS? How many unique users do you have?

We have 2.3 million unique users. We get over a million views every month. It is more than doubling every year.

How many colleges and institutes have already enrolled on ICS?
Five thousand colleges use ICS, we provide information about 12,000-plus and over 100 colleges from 15 states pay us.

Under Mass Communication and Media, I did not find the name of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC). Any particular reason for this?
None that I'm aware of. We've launched this course only a few weeks ago so we might have missed it.

What is the USP of ICS?
Best search algorithm, updated info not available elsewhere, largest community of both students and colleges and only direct application platform in India.

What are your future plans?
We are hoping to make college selection a more social experience by allowing you to see where other students are applying and getting accepted - these could be people from your social network or from your city in general.

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