Manan Khurma, the founder of Cuemath, has always loved mathematics. Find out how he built the edtech startup due to his love for maths.
Edtech startup Cuemath’s Founder & CEO, Manan Khurma, became fond of mathematics when he was just a child. But, unlike many others, he did not abandon the topic; instead, he became even more committed as he grew older. Manan attributes this to his solid academic basics.
Manan explains, “My mathematical background was quite solid. It was partly in my own self-interest. And partially because my parents were university professors and I had access to fantastic books.”
Manan began tutoring high school pupils in math while in college, and by 2006, his third year, he was assisting students with IIT entrance exam preparation. He soon realized that their early learning experiences influenced how well they comprehended the material as it progressed.
By 2007, Manan and Niraj Singh (now the Founder and CEO of Spinny) had abandoned college placements in favor of launching Locus Education, a test-prep company. They trained over 10,000 students in Delhi, Gurugram, Lucknow, and Jaipur with a staff of a few dozen professors.
However, the co-founders, who were themselves teachers, realized over time that it was challenging to maintain quality while developing a teacher-centric business. They sold the startup to another participant in the same market in 2010-11.
“It was a fantastic learning experience. I ended up teaching so many pupils from various origins, competency levels, cultural and socioeconomic circumstances,” Manan explains.
This time, he also emphasized the need of starting early if he intended to have an influence on student learning outcomes.
Manan says, “It is simpler to assist the pupil grow in the proper path if you start early.”
This notion resulted in the 2013 creation of the edtech business CueMath, with an investment of more than Rs 40 lakh.
Manan wished to develop a new type of mathematics-learning software to assist children fall in love with the subject and learn it the proper way—visually and intuitively—rather than memorizing equations.
He argues, “A majority of children study mathematics from the time they are studying in kindergarten. You have to start early if you want to have a significant influence on learning outcomes.”
He created a teacher-driven strategy for teaching the curriculum using printed workbooks. He sought stay-at-home, certified instructors about partnering with him and taking lessons in their homes.
A curriculum, a learning platform, and a pedagogy are delivered through a network of instructors in the model.
Cuemath failed to raise funding from investors for several years. Manan considered closing down several times.
Manan explains, “However, by 2015, Cuemath had around 100 instructors in the Delhi-NCR area who had collaborated with us, and the reaction from kids was quite positive.”
Cuemath received a seed investment of Rs 1 crore from Unitus Seed Fund as a result of this early scale and feedback. This enabled them to grow to 500 teachers in the next months.
Sequoia India led a $4 million Series A financing in the business in 2016. The next year, Sequoia and Alphabet-owned CapitalG led a $15 million Series B fundraising round. Cuemath was getting requests from locations where they didn’t have teachers by this point.
The team recognized that the hyperlocal matching capability would not assist them in scaling. To accommodate a bigger number of pupils, teachers have to work online as well. To maintain quality, however, 1:1 learning was required.
Cuemath began developing an online platform and conducting pilots in 2017-18. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, the startup was ready. All instructors moved to online teaching in less than two weeks.