Athena Education, founded by two Princeton graduates, offers individualized mentoring programs to Class 7-12 students in order to ease entrance to colleges overseas. In the previous two years, Athena students have reported an admission rate of more over 95 percent.
Poshak Agarwal and Rahul Subramaniam, Princeton grads and friends, returned to India in 2013 after traveling the world and found themselves tutoring the children of friends and acquaintances to make rent and pay expenses.
Rahul says, “You’re missing out on a massive opportunity because no one is looking into mentorship in a professional, process-driven, tailored way.”
Poshak and Rahul founded Athena Education in 2013 to assist students in applying to universities overseas, with a particular emphasis on Ivy League schools. They started with “meagre savings” from a room in their Delhi home.
Rahul says, “We realized that there are many students in India who want expert assistance to achieve their Ivy League aspirations.”
They worked on the admissions interview committee at college. Rahul also temporarily worked as a director for a college counseling and test prep firm in California.
A team of Ivy League graduates now gives detailed counseling on admissions to premier US and UK colleges to high school pupils.
It has so far worked with over 500 pupils. Depending on the students’ schedules, the startup operates both online and offline. It now has locations in Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.
Students as young as Class 9 may participate in the startup’s personal mentoring program, which costs around Rs 4-5 lakh per year. Athena then assists students with SAT preparation, college application review and rewriting, and mock interviews.
“We are a one-stop shop for all of the needs of the students. It is divided into three parts: strategy, execution, and application “Poshak elaborates. There are folks who only do applications or only strategy, but we do all three. If a student wants to publish a research paper, construct an app, acquire an internship, or conduct a robotics project, we will create a plan for them based on our years of experience and the expertise of individuals who work with us, such as an ex-Harvard Admissions Officer.”
Once the approach is established, we engage with the student for years to assist them carry it out. After that, we assist the student in communicating that through a complete application.
On the Athena portal, counsellors, students, and parents may get an overall progress report. The startup also assists students in obtaining internships.
Rahul explains, “Our business strategy has developed into more than college counseling over the years. It’s like a massive feast. There are three types of counseling: strategic, tactical, and emotional.
He says, “We bring in child psychologists, admissions officials, our complete in-house research team, our technology team, and art consultants. We have a network of internships and summer schools, and our research team is currently creating links with laboratories so that kids who enjoy science may perform lab work.”
The startup communicates with students two to three times each week and spends an average of four to five hours per week with them.
In 2016, three years after its inception, Athena achieved its first breakthrough: seven Indian students were admitted to Harvard. Athena has three of these pupils.
Fifty-six students used Athena to apply to foreign universities, and they all received acceptance letters from prestigious institutions such as Columbia, Yale, Stanford, Caltech, Oxford, Cambridge, Dartmouth, Brown, University of California—Los Angeles, University of California—Berkeley, University of Toronto, Imperial, and LSE, among others.
According to the company, 53 of these kids were accepted into the institution of their choice. The number of students seeking to study abroad through the startup climbed to 68 by 2022.
At the startup, all students received acceptance letters from Ivy League and other prestigious institutions. In 2022, up to 97 percent of pupils were admitted to the institution of their choice. Every student was admitted to five colleges on average.
Athena Education is now looking to continue to develop and build other locations in other cities.