Bhanzu to eliminate math phobia, enhance skill 4x times; Hyderabad startup raises Rs.120 cr

In an exclusive interview with NewsTAP, Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash explains how Bhanzu is one of the fastest growing math-ed platforms


HYDERABAD: Hyderabad-based and T-Hub 2.0-incubated startup Bhanzu, founded by world's fastest human calculator Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash, recently bagged a USD 15 million investment in their journey of growing as the world's largest math-ed platform.

Most people fear opting numbers, additions, subtractions, divisions, or anything numeric as their career option due to the sheer fear of the subject. Also known as mathematical anxiety, this feeling in students tends to push them away from the subject.

In an exclusive interview with NewsTAP, Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash explains how Bhanzu is one of the fastest growing math-ed platforms and how it helps eliminate the fear of mathematics in students and lets them find their love for the subject.

Q1. Which Venture Capital firms invested in Bhanzu? What was the business demonstration and how did you manage to raise Rs 120 crores?

Bhanzu raised $ 15M from global VC Eight Roads Ventures. B Capital Group as well as Lightspeed Ventures also participated in this round.

I believe what we are trying to solve as a startup, is to eradicate global maths phobia, clearly resonating with our investors. With the vision we carry along with growth potential across geographies, we were able to attract the right kind of VCs.

Q2. How do you plan on utilising the funds?

With the recent funding we have raised, we want to ramp up tech infrastructure and further gamify our maths learning experience.

With the current funding coming into the picture, Bhanzu is majorly focused on expanding its business globally across multiple geographies. We have started to explore South-East Asia and the Middle-East, which is Bhanzu's primary focus outside India.

Moreover, the recent funds will play an important part in increasing the workforce and strengthening the curriculum with more thought-provoking courses and content.

So far more than 30,000 students have experienced our courseware and we want to increase this significantly in the next few months.

Bhanzu also plans on promoting maths, as a competitive sport by booster courses and mini-games series for self-paced learning engagement.

In the next few years, we aspire to become the World's largest and most impactful maths-education platform.

Q3. How was Bhanzu ideated? Were there trial and errors of the model? What is the story behind the name? How did it grow to be what it is today?

In my 10-year journey of becoming the World's Fastest Human Calculator, I have understood how maths is learned, understood, taught, and perceived. For me, maths was always more than just a subject, it was a fun-loving experience that changed the way I looked at the world. Since 2011, I have been competing in global maths competitions and winning the National and International Speed Arithmetic Championships. In the process, I broke four World Records and 50 Limca Records to be titled - World's Fastest Human Calculator.

During my four years of extensive research doing 500+ shows in 23 countries, I discovered that three out of every four children worldwide suffer from maths phobia in one form or the other. I was truly disheartened because it discourages them not only from considering a career in maths but also from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers, even if they are interested in them.

In an ocean-wide realm of exploring STEM fields, setting sail becomes difficult for a lot of students as the first wave which hits you is that of maths or numeracy, and in most cases, it is not a very pleasant one. In the summer of 2019, I put together a small team (the current founding team of Bhanzu), which started working on experimenting with different styles of making maths more interesting and palatable.

Plays, stories, games, duels, and in most cases - building speed in fundamental arithmetic is where we started. We realized that making maths learning centred around story narratives, making every class relatable, and making students become quicker at maths builds confidence.

Our curriculum today is an outcome of extensive data collected over the past 4 years. This is how Bhanzu was born.

What started as a small team a couple of years ago has now grown to 400+ across different verticals.

Q4. Do you make the maths content in-house or is the study-material outsourced?

I spent 4+ years taking more than 2,500 classes across several countries and started building a cognitive-enhancing curriculum that will make learning maths more fun and relatable for the students. This curriculum would later become the 'curriculum of Bhanzu'.

The Bhanzu way of learning is revolutionising maths learning through fun story narratives, with an aim to make the subject learning holistic. By making students quicker at maths and better at applying mathss in the real world, it in turn makes them more confident as well as aids their overall cognitive development. Bhanzu's curriculum has been meticulously designed to make students 4x quicker and better at maths by nurturing their cognitive abilities and building their core maths acumen.

Q5. What is your revenue model? Is it based on student subscriptions?

Our online classroom model is a 1:5 teacher:student environment which enables peer-to-peer learning and an extremely competitive environment for healthy learning progress. Our teacher management model is built to be sustainable because of unique profiling for acquisition, and the number of cumulative students that a teacher can teach is very high, because of the 1:5 teacher: student classroom construct.

Students who wish to enrol with us can subscribe to any of the three models: 30 sessions (4 months), 75 sessions (12 months), or 150 sessions (18 months).

Q6. Who all comprise the core team of Bhanzu and how big is the team?

Bhanzu's core team comprises five people and in total our team strength currently is 400+.

Q7. Who are your competitors (if any) in the maths-tech field?

The objective of training in mental calculations or any mindsport is to develop one's cognitive abilities. Traditional speed maths classes teach shortcuts and tricks to solve maths problems which defeat the purpose of training in mental calculations. The journey of solving the problem itself is greater than the final answer. The Bhanzu curriculum makes students 4x quicker at maths by building organic methodologies in students in significantly lesser timeframes.

Q8. How does Bhanzu work? Is it only live classes? What are the major benefits of Bhanzu?

Bhanzu offers only live classes.

Bhanzu's teaching modules encourage students to ask the questions 'WHY' before 'WHAT' and "HOW'. This makes students look at the world through the lens of maths. Legacy companies like KUMON, and Abacus Institutions do just speed maths for years. Bhanzu wishes to be a better alternative as our curriculum not just restricts students to speed maths, but also focuses on school curriculum and applied maths topics. Speed mathematics is just the beginning of the student's learning journey at Bhanzu.

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