During the COVID-19 lockdown which is now bringing life slowly back to normalcy, educational institutions across the world and in India came to a standstill land students had no option but to go for online and self- study.
It was during this time that IIT alumni 28-year-old Imbesat Ahmad, and Shadman Anwer , founded an application-FILO. This is a doubt-clearing app that removed the barriers of physical distance between students preparing for competitive exams and the experts who could help them and address their queries. The application helps students to seek instant answers from experts within 60 seconds. IIT Kharagpur alumnus Imbesat Ahmad has a decade of teaching experience in conflict-torn Kashmir and is the co-founder of RISE institute in Srinagar city, an institute that trains students for the competitive exams like NEET, JEE in India’s top institutes. The other co-founder of the app is Shadman Anwer, an alumnus of IIT Delhi. Both of them have made the service available at a very affordable rate for students across India to make accessible to the poor and underprivileged. Within a short span of time Filo has become a fast-growing Edtech app that provides tutors on demand. The app not only offers innovative & unique service of providing tutors in real-time but also has specially designed Filo Micro classes at a rate as low as Rs 10. “Micro Classes are live interactive classes,” said Shadman while sharing the journey of their venture with J&C. ead on to know more about this app that is helping students prepare for a bright future:
"Being an alumnus of SUPER 30 & IIT Kharagpur, I’ve closely experienced the impact of a right mentor at the right time & how it changes the lives of students. Since 2015, I have been teaching & counselling higher secondary kids in different states of India and have helped more than 1,000 students enter some of the most coveted institutions like IITs, UPenn, Princeton, NITs, BITS etc. I could gauge the anxiety and stress level of my students when they were unable to find small guidance at the time when they needed the most in the lack of a proper communication channel & reliable tutors", says Imbesat Ahmad.
"Students used to share this common problem of not being able to do self-study, a majority of students got stuck multiple times at different topics or questions, especially the ones who couldn’t afford private online or offline coaching. This lead to anxiety, backlogs & eventually push students out of sync with class and their grades suffer & leaves them demotivated and even depressed. This is what motivated me to find a solution which was effective as well as cost effective", he adds.
"In spite of the new crop of education-focused companies, millions of students in India and Bharat suffer from a lack of affordable support for their education. This has been the central idea for us, an app that gives students instant access 24*7 to a high-quality tutor who speaks in their mother tongue. Filo is unique in terms of the inclusivity of different languages spoken in India", says Shadman.
"Most of our services are absolutely FREE and a few are at a marginalised cost to ensure that students of villages and tier 2&3 towns find our services affordable, whereas all existing apps are mainly focused in the top financial spectrum of tier 1 cities", he adds.
For college students, Filo is also the easiest platform to share knowledge & also earn some good money for a noble cause. Unlike others, a tutor has complete flexibility wrt timing, number of hours of classes/sessions etc.
Filo is the first-of-its kind technology in India that connects students with real teachers on video call. All the existing apps are providing just text-based conversations. Filo saves 400% more time on average sessions of doubt resolution.
"On our platform, students can learn what they want to learn, when they want, how to want and from whom they want. We are not bulldozing them with thousands of GBs of data in text or video material, but providing them with a safe space to just overcome their hurdles at the earliest possible", says Shadman.
Being a totally novel concept in the country, people found it too good to be true. So, a lot of people hesitated initially to try it out or they simply believed that it was in line with an already existing content based app. "We are doing something totally new but to explain it at the mass level is very difficult. The existing big giants have created a lot of noise in the education system", says Shadman.
"We have given full priority to data safety and privacy. Thats why we built our own video streaming and not using any foreign services like zoom. But again, people are little skeptical as video or voice calling starts within our platform, especially with girls students", he adds.
The journey so far
In a short period of five months, more than 50,000+ students have completed more than 2 million minutes of sessions on Filo - getting help for queries within seconds from high-quality tutors who are alma mater of IITs, NITs, and leading educational institutions. Filo has acquired more than 3000 tutors. Filo is rapidly scaling its tutors to meet the constantly growing demand from students.
The founders plan to democratise education for the BHARAT segment of the country who can’t afford quality education currently.
"In the next 1 year, we intend to help more than 1.5 million students through a tutor base of 35,000+ experts. More than 1 lakh students would be learning on Filo everyday from all parts of the country. We will include different streams like Humanities & Commerce in addition to Science. We will help class 9/10 students in their preparation for NTSE & Olympiads by providing dedicated Micro classes. We are also going to launch classes for government job aspirants like RRB, SSC, Banking etc", says Shadman.
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