Ruangguru cracks business model as it reaches 13 million student users


Holding pole position as Indonesia’s popular tutoring services app, Ruangguru is revving up to expand into the lucrative corporate training sector


Indonesian edtech startup Ruangguru had a “phenomenal” 2018, according to one of its investors, Raditya "Adit" Pramana, Partner at Venturra Capital.

The Indonesian tutoring services platform "finally cracked the business model, [with something] that people loved and would work economically for the company as well," Adit told CompassList. "This is a model that they can scale throughout the nation. They're now a household name, providing quality education to people who did not have access to that before."

Venturra Capital invested in Ruangguru in its Series A and B financing rounds in 2015 and 2017, respectively. The edtech startup has since posted tremendous growth, reaching "13 million students and 400,000 teachers," CEO and co-founder Belva Devara said last month in an Instagram post. New initiatives will continue to drive its expansion. “I hope that Ruangguru and I will have the strength to innovate in the education landscape every day," Belva added.

The next challenge for the "Uber for tutoring services" is to crack the business model for corporate training. Launched in 2018, the "Ruangkerja” (Indonesian for "office" or "workroom") portal is already being used by blue-chip companies like state-owned oil and gas Pertamina to provide an online training for their millennial workforce.

Pertamina's Human Resources Director Nicke Widyawati said that “less than 50%” of the planned lesson content could only be previously implemented by the energy company for employee training. “With a mobile system, we hope to accelerate the learning process in Pertamina,” she said, according to Katadata, which also noted that Pertamina routinely trains new employees who are fresh graduates.

Ruangguru is also exploring the possibility of working with banking and insurance companies, said co-founder and Chief of Product and Partnership Iman Usman. Insurance companies, in particular, allocate large budgets to train new agents. “These companies used to train their agents one by one. With a tech platform, we can make the process more efficient,” he said.

Education for all

Armed with seed funding from East Ventures in August 2014, the startup was able to expand their tutoring services portal to provide online test trials and digital classrooms to enable students to interact with teachers in real time. In 2016, the apps were launched with novelty features that allowed students to take snapshots and share their homework assignments with their personal tutors to get feedback via live chats or audio calls.

In 2017, Ruangguru won accolades at the MIT Solve competition after pitching its solution to help high-school dropouts secure jobs. The digital classroom platform helps the youths to get paid work to support their families and prepare for high-school equivalency examinations. Ruangguru also offers advice to guide the students to apply for better-paid jobs after they have completed their certified courses.

In September, Ruangbelajar was launched to provide a complete suite of educational materials for independent learning. Featuring exam practice questions and summarized notes, the video-based self-study platform has received "tremendous" feedback from parents and users. The ready-made materials cater to students of all ages, ranging from first grade elementary school and all the way to university entrance exam preparations.

Besides bespoke corporate training content, another highly scalable and lucrative SaaS is the company's learning management system (LMS) Ruangkelas. Designed specifically for local schools in August, Ruangkelas enables teachers to interact and give feedback more effectively in real time through by online tasks and quizzes. Ruangguru also helps the school teachers to save time by providing them with a selection of ready-made question banks for their quizzes and practice exams.

Brand ambassadors

“We are proud to have retained our position as the biggest tech-based education platform in Indonesia,” said Belva at an event in January 2018 covered by news website Beritasatu. The actor and singer, Iqbaal Ramadhan, who played the leading role in teen romance flick Dilan 1990, was named as the company’s brand ambassador. Iqbaal finished high school at the United World College in the US, the only Indonesian student in his batch. He's now involved in developing material for Ruangguru’s English language curriculum.

Ruangguru also collaborates directly with mobile partners to improve accessibility and to attract new customers for its apps. In April 2018, Samsung bundled the Ruangguru app into its newly released Galaxy Tab A. Priced at IDR 3.99 million, the tablet offered free access to Ruangguru’s learning materials for one month.

In July, Ruangguru teamed up with national mobile carrier Telkomsel, specifically for the youth-focused prepaid card brand LOOP. The edtech's materials are included as part of the 3GB data bundle priced at just IDR 25,000, according to phone news site Selular. The partnership also launched EnsikLOOPedia, where LOOP users can also access a selection of Ruangguru learning videos and materials. Currently, LOOP customers can claim a 40% discount for Ruangguru services.

Founded in 2014 by then undergrads Belva and Iman, the simple idea of connecting private tutors directly to students through an online platform has matured into an innovative edtech focused on the needs of future generations of students and workers.

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Edited by Suzanne Soh

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