An inspirational story is born when a person’s aspiration to change others’ lives is strong-willed. With this, many entrepreneurs have achieved their success against what seemed like unbeatable odds.
Kalpana Gangaramani’s motivating journey fits in the picture perfectly. Experiencing it herself, she looked around at what was missing in the country’s educational works. Kalpana wanted to give a new perspective to traditional educational content by changing the sphere of educational books for better. And this was the genesis of Target Publications.
Today, with a robust team of 200+ members, Target Publications is proudly transforming lives and making a difference in the lives of lakhs of students each year. Going by numbers, the company is associated as a content partner with 6000+ coaching institutes via its 600+ product offerings and selling more than 2.5 million books (data-2019-20). Alone in the previous academic session, 5,00,000 students studied through their books- a testimony to the company’s commitment to delivering kosher-quality study material.
Intrigued, we interviewed Managing Director Kalpana Gangaramani to gain insights on the journey of Target Publications Pvt. Ltd.
Our school time, beyond question, was dominated by massive books and making notes from them. The well-structured study material was not within the reach and resultantly, one has to make his/her notes. Being in the industry I observed the arising of new needs with the new generation. The present scenario is no different; today’s kids need study material(s) that not only covers the whole-length but also helps them to complete their studies quicker and score well. And this was the beginning of Target Publications; to impart the right amount of knowledge as per the needs of the generation.
Entering into a pre-dominated industry and making a space for us meant like going to a battlefield. We faced the entry barrier as traditional publishers had been ruling the entire market for decades. To get a retailer to agree and promote our books or a school to enlist our books for their students was an uphill task. If you want to change something for the better, you have a long and winding road waiting ahead. With time, challenges turned into opportunities and we are proud of our progress. At present, I feel the lack of clarity regarding the implementation of the New Education Policy is a challenge for the entire education fraternity.
ACQUISITIONS AND ADDITIONS
Acquiring Mumbai-based Lazy Bone Publications in December 2018 complemented our portfolio and took us a few steps closer to our goal. Additionally, our ambition to foray into the Stationary segment was achieved in October 2019.
INNOVATIVE PRODUCT OFFERINGS
In a nutshell, we breathe innovation! Our entire team, across departments, is obsessed with innovation and we try to infuse something fresh in all our product offerings. At present, we have 600+ product offerings ranging from pre-primary books to books for competitive exams and there is an element of innovation in each of them. Having said that, I would like to particularly put light on our stationery division. Last year, we launched our range of notebooks which are India’s first notebooks with pre-printed page numbers, to help students organize their studies better.
The pandemic hit our business hard and caused an economic downturn. This is where adaptability and survival instincts came into play. Our preexistence in the ed-tech space (video lectures-YouTube channel) was amplified with a huge step- our own mobile application: Quill – The Padhai App. During the lockdown, Quill offered the content of our books from Std. VIII to Std. XII on the app in an interactive manner to enable students to study. The efforts surely paid off; within 3 months of its launch, the app gained more than 60,000 students in the state. Moreover, during this period, we focused our energies on online sales and received encouraging results. Although our traditional sales channel got hampered due to the pandemic, sales are gradually picking up and it is back on the track.
GROWING AMID THE PANDEMIC
We had started selling our books on online marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart & Firstcry a couple of years ago. Over a period of time, a lot of our titles had become bestsellers and sales had been growing gradually at a sequential rate. However, during the pandemic, book stores & educational institutes were completely shut but the government allowed online marketplaces to begin deliveries by the end of May 2020. We jumped on the opportunity and followed through. Subsequently, over the next three months, our online sales tripled. Demand mounted from every corner of the country. With the support of our team, we were able to satisfy the growing demand on time.
OUTLOOK ON EDTECH
People have accepted e-learning as a legitimate way to educate their children and with the rate at which innovation is taking place in the sector, people will adapt to it even better. Going forward, I feel deeper customization of learning packages for students will add real value to the product offerings. I also feel that the biggest challenge EdTech companies are facing right now is to find a point of uniqueness. Many companies are doing some really good work; however, they offer a similar solution. The unicorns are ruling the market and to make your mark among them is quite difficult. Also, I feel that bootstrapped start-ups are going to find it difficult to survive in this competitive market due to the lack of funds at some point. The EdTech business burns your cash at a speed you can’t imagine. So, creating the right source of funding is going to be a challenge.
On the business front, growing our online sales multifold and venturing in exports to be able to transform the lives of students across the world is our top priority right now. We are also working on adding new products to our existing portfolio across various levels and boards. On the EdTech side of our business, we are investing heavily in building our Quill – The Padhai App further to magnify it into a self-sustained learning platform.
THE TORCHBEARERS OF TARGET PUBLICATIONS
Dilip Gangaramani & Kalpana Gangaramani laid the foundation of Target Publications and are now leading it, jointly. “Dilip’s vision about the business is beyond my imagination and he works passionately with the team to achieve our long-term goals. His business acumen, people skills & fine sense of judgement have brought the company so far.” Asserts Kalpana Gangaramani
WORDS OF WISDOM