Krishnan Ganesh, The outsourcerer
If you want to see where Indian outsourcing
is going, keep an eye on Krishnan Ganesh
WE ARE addressing the bottom of the pyramid,
says Krishnan Ganesh, an Indian entrepreneur, of his
latest venture, TutorVista.
It is a phrase that cheekily calls to mind the mass
poor in his native countrybut TutorVista, an online
tuition service, is aimed squarely at customers in the
developed world. Mr Ganesh founded the company in late
2005 after spotting that personal tutoring for American
schoolchildren was unaffordable for most parents. His
solution is to use tutors in India to teach Western
students over the internet.
teachers all work from home, which means that the company
is better able to avoid India's high-wage employment hotspots.
TutorVista further hammers home its labour-cost advantage
through its pricing model. It offers unlimited tuition in
a range of subjects for a subscription fee of $100 per month
in America (and £50 a month in Britain, where the service
launched earlier this year) rather than charging by the hour.
Tutors are available around the clock; appointments can be
made with only 12 hours' notice..
too early to gauge the impact of the service on educational
outcomes, says Mr Ganesh, but take-up is brisk. TutorVista
has 2,200 paying subscribers at the moment (most of them in
America) and hopes to boost that figure to 10,000 by the end
of the year. The company is expected to become profitable
in 2008. Even cheaper pricing packages are on the way. Launches
of the service are planned for Australia and Canada. Mr Ganesh
is also investigating the potential of offering tuition in
English as a second language to students in South Korea, where
high rates of broadband penetration make the market attractive.
Get that right, and China looms as an even bigger prize.
is gambling that the benefits of offshored services can be
sold directly to consumers. Building trust for an unknown
Indian brand is the biggest difficulty he faces. Having reassuring
local managers fronting his operations in America and Britain
certainly helps; so too does the fact that TutorVista's teachers
are experienced hands, with an average age of 45 (many of
them are retired). Quality control is vital: sessions are
recorded and parents, student and teacher share a monthly
call to discuss progress. As for the thorny problem of accents,
Mr Ganesh points out that much of the communication is non-verbalteachers
and students write on a shared virtual whiteboard.
has a habit of spotting the next stage in the evolution of
India's outsourcing industry, and his own career encapsulates
its rapid development. He started in 1990, just as the Indian
economy was being liberalised, by founding IT&T, a computer-maintenance
business serving local firms. It was a brave decision. Capital
was scarce and Mr Ganesh tackled cashflow problems by getting
companies to pay their maintenance premiums upfront. Red tape
proliferated and it took 26 clearance permits and nine months
of battling to get IT&T up and running. Entrepreneurs
were regarded with suspicion, even in their own homes. Mr
Ganesh says the strongest opposition he encountered was from
his mother-in-law, who had blessed his marriage to her daughter
because of his stable job in corporate planning.
time he stepped down from a hands-on role at the company in
1998, IT&T had 400 people, 16 offices and a turnover of
200m rupees ($4.8m). His next role, a two-year stint as the
boss of a telecoms joint venture between Britain's BT and
Bharti Enterprises, was more conventional. But before his
in-laws could start to relax, the entrepreneurial itch flared
up again. Realising that the internet would enable India to
become a provider of outsourced services to overseas firms,
Mr Ganesh and his wife founded a firm to offer technical support
via e-mail for customers of dotcom start-ups. That market
never materialised but the new firm, CustomerAsset, survived
by becoming a call-centre business serving old-economy
Western firms. It was acquired by ICICI, a business-process
outsourcing firm, in 2002 for $22m.
backers include the Indian arm of Sequoia Capital, a stalwart
of Silicon Valley. Employees are more willing to consider
joining start-up firms. Regulation is lighter, too. The paperwork
required to set up TutorVista was completed in two weeks.
But the improved business climate also has drawbacksrivals
are better funded and there is more competition for talented
people. Presumably Mr Ganesh's success has, by now, overcome
family opposition? We have a saying in India,
he responds. Behind every successful man is a devoted
wifeand a very surprised mother-in-law.
in to learn - The Hindu
Students in the U.S. and U.K. don't burn the proverbial midnight
oil anymore. Teachers in India do it for them.
Bangalore is now home to another outsourcing industry
Knowledge or Education Process Outsourcing (KPO) that offers
"anytime, anywhere education on any subject". Whatever
the name may suggest, it simply implies having an online tutor
across the seas to help do projects, homework, study for exams,
take tests and have difficult lessons explained. Much like
what your tuition teacher did when you were in school
only he or she came home or you went to theirs. Virtual classes
today cut across continents that may separate teacher and
Tutor Vista is a Bangalore-based KPO that has been e-tutoring
over 500 students in the U.S. and U.K., specially in subjects
that are in great demand Math and English. Science,
apparently, comes third! Its youngest student at present is
a six-year-old and the oldest, a 42-year-old studying for
his GMAT. So whether it's school or a competitive exam for
entry into college like the SAT and GRE, there's demand for
tutors: Another view
Last week CNN/Money ran a column about Indian entrepreneur
Krishnan Ganesh, founder of online tutoring company Tutor
Vista. Tutor Vista seeks to provide students in America and
the U.K. with affordable tutors via the Internet, with a world-is-flat
twist: all Tutor Vistas tutors are based in India.
Ganesh contends that parents and students (hes signed
up a mere 2,000 thus far) are pleased with the service, but
the column elicited a strong response from George Cigale,
CEO of rival Tutor.com.
Vista is a Powerful online tutoring tool
As a teacher I often get asked for recommendations of good
tutors. Although we have a few moderately qualified tutors
in our little town, the prices are expensive and out of reach
for most parents. In small towns like mine effective online
tutoring is the best option available. Up until recently I
would recommend Sylvan Online, but the cost was high and although
it was a good system, I do not feel it was the most effective.
I recently discovered what I feel is the best deal in, not
only online tutoring, but in tutoring in general. It is called
Tutor Vista at http://www.tutorvista.com.
you can outsource your homework to India
Indian entrepreneur Krishnan Ganesh is out to prove that
consumer services can be outsourced just the way business
NEW YORK (Fortune) Few large corporations need to
be convinced of the benefits of offshore outsourcing. Many
U.S. companies have fully embraced the outsourcing of customer
call centers, software troubleshooting, and even medical diagnoses
to workers in India and other emerging markets as a way to
cut costs and take care of business when most of America is
asleep.Now, Indian entrepreneur Krishnan Ganesh is out to
prove the advantages of outsourcing to a different and more
skeptical audience: American parents and students.