Why five minutes may just be enough to absorb some skills on the go
In business, one can never spend too much time learning new skills. But who has extra time for studying? Between work and personal obligations, there don’t seem to be enough hours in a day – and that’s with many a nocturnal startup founder sacrificing sleep, to varying degrees of success.
To find extra time in the day, Indranil Sarkar and Anant Gupta tried to leverage smartphones. The average Indian user spends nearly three hours a day on his or her phone. If five to 10 of those minutes were spent studying a new skill, employees could benefit.
They teamed up with Amit Arora and Varun Dutt to build Nhance (pronounced “enhance”), a free app that has step-by-step modules to polish skills such as marketing, finance, and analytics.
Founded last year, the fledgling company was chosen as one of 12 startups in Village Capital’s Education: India 2016 program, which seeks to even the ground in access to higher education in India. Sponsored by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, selected startups participate in a three-month program that offers leadership guidance, mentorship, and meetings with investors and venture capitalists – with a possibility of funding from VilCap Investments and the Dell Foundation.
Nhance, based in Singapore and Bangalore, announced $300,000 in seed funding that took place some months ago. Education entrepreneur and investor Mohan Lakhamraju, who operates the Great Lakes chain of business schools, led the round.
For Nhance’s team of eight, the pace of the company’s progress is encouraging. “We were very lucky,” Indranil tells Tech in Asia. Like his co-founder, he has an MBA from the Wharton School, where they met. “We graduated last year and moved to India. We built the team and started working on the product.”
Over 200 learning games are available on the app. Since its first release this January, Nhance has been downloaded 10,000 times, but the company did not disclose the number of active users.
While five minutes a day – perhaps the time one spends in line for coffee or waiting for an Uber – can sound like an amount of time too small for any real learning, it might actually be more beneficial than sitting in a classroom for an hour or more.
Spaced education – learning concepts over a long amount of time – improves long-term retention, a Harvard study found – not to mention that classroom learning is not the most fun of learning models. Indranil and Anant aim to steer away from that concept and into a learning style requiring more engagement and less passive learning. Concepts on adult learning also factored into Nhance’s design.
After downloading the app, users select their motivations and preferences – maybe they’re using the app with the intention of going to a job interview or becoming a manager. Based on that entry, Nhance creates a program centered around basic lessons – if a user is studying marketing, then lessons may include “understanding your customer” and pricing strategies.
Videos and pictures help keep the user interested while learning, and a short test checks comprehension of the concept. After passing the test, he or she may move on to games that help put the concept into practice.
Indranil says that something he particularly liked in school was that examples in class were localized, which helped students get familiar with business in different parts of the world. Nhance uses India-specific examples in tests and games for an India-focused learning experience.
The heavier concepts are supplemented with lighter concepts, such as tips that Indranil calls “instant gratification,” to make the experience feel more rewarding.
Skill-based learning is gaining popularity in India. Plenty of students in the country come out of theory-based higher education programs every year and find a shortage of jobs.
Getting ahead often requires a student to be able to hit the ground running with little training, which has led to skill development startups like Edureka, as well as hiring startups like CoCubes, which flags job applicants’ skills so employers can tell right off the bat if a hiree has the practical knowhow to do a job well.
Nhance finds its own niche in the skill-learning game by offering bite-sized lessons that knowledge seekers can learn on the job and begin implementing right away through the real-world scenarios the app offers – and hopefully, into the real world.
Editing by Nadine Freischlad and Osman Husain
This post was originally published on Tech in Asia.