10 Minute School – a Bangladeshi online educational platform that has broken all stereotypes concerning formal education. From plaguing our newsfeeds with their pre-launch vocabulary teasers a year back to being one of the most prominent and well-known startups in the country today, 10 Minute School has seemingly made it big overnight – a business model that has inspired thousands.
We talked to the brains behind this brilliant initiative, Ayman Sadik on 10 Minute School’s journey; the setbacks, the milestones and where he sees himself in the next few years.
This is probably one that you’ve had to start every interview with till date – What triggered your idea for 10 Minute School? – that one Eureka! moment that got you thinking about starting something like 10MS?
Ayman- Back in my first year, during my time at Mentors’, I came across a LOT of students from very diverse educational and social backgrounds – and the kind of exposure they had received as a result translated to very evident disparities in their education levels.
This was what got me thinking about a platform where students from all kinds of educational institutes can get education, free of cost, living anywhere in the country – breaking the social, financial and geographical barriers to quality education.
The idea for 10 Minute School as it is now however, was a result of personal experience. I am a huge fan of Khanacademy, so the idea for an online educational platform was always at the back of my mind. And during my IBA admission test, I’d practice a lot on Majortests.com, which had a brilliant quizzing system. And lastly, I got the idea for keeping tracks of performance through progress bars and such from a few gaming apps. I basically wanted to combine these three features – the videos, the tests and a way to track progress.
Infact, 10 Minute School’s motto – “LEARN. PRACTICE. PROGRESS.” actually relates to these three features in the same order!
You launched 10 Minute School during your 4th Year at IBA, Dhaka University – considered to be the most hectic phase of an otherwise laidback university life. How did you manage?
Ayman- I actually started working on 10 Minute School back in my 2nd year. This project has always been my first priority ever since I came up with the idea. Not to mention, I was also working part-time at Mentors’ and tutoring students all throughout. So, academics strangely enough, ranked pretty low on my priority list. IBA’s laidback schedule definitely helped.
At the end of the day, it’s always about priorities – you can’t have everything in life, the key is to tactically balance out your priorities so you’re not miserably failing at something that might affect you in later life.
We’ve seen 10 Minute School become a sensation overnight – from the pre-launch daily teasers about proper English pronunciations to becoming a revolutionary educational platform for the nation in the span of 1 year – what would you say were the biggest milestones in terms of business development?
Ayman- The first milestone for 10 Minute School was when the core team came together – our super-talented web developer Raied, my brother Sadman and eventually his friends – a group of unbelievably gifted and dedicated individuals without whom this wouldn’t have been possible.
People say the hardest part of kick-starting a business or project is convincing and getting people to understand and accept your idea. I suppose I’m quite privileged when I say that I haven’t experienced this. I received immense support from people around me during the development and planning phase – seniors, juniors, friends – and 10 Minute School was accepted unusually well by the masses even after being launched. Not sure if this counts as a milestone but our server crashed 35 minutes after we officially launched the website due to excess traffic; we had to get a bigger server to accommodate all our students.
The final milestone I’d say is the collaboration with Robi Axiata Ltd – a stable funding programme that I desperately needed to keep 10 Minute School going. This was also the reason why I decided to stick with the project after graduation, and not opt for a job instead.
You started off with short Math Hack videos, and now host thousands of content, with a lot of other lecturers and speakers on board. How has the 10 Minute School Team evolved/grown in the time since its launch?
Ayman- I started 10 Minute School teaching what I knew and had experience in – Math, English and Analytical from my time at Mentors’. Eventually I realised that the same format of teaching is applicable for a lot of other exams too – so basically, just by adding some content here and there, I could be essentially catering to all these thousands of students looking to sit for different admission tests.
We moved onto content covering HSC, SSC and also JSC later on. Currently we also have a Skill Development section and University Courses on our website.
The 10 Minute School team has expanded immensely in this journey. A project that started out with 12-13 core members now has a core team of 18, a blog team of 13 and a volunteer pool of 40-50 people. And it is a brilliantly diverse group of people, from 2nd year undergraduates to faculties from renowned universities.
How did the partnership with Robi Axiata Ltd come along and how do you think it will help 10 Minute School grow?
Ayman- The partnership with Robi Axiata Ltd. has been a long time coming. The one-year contract had been officially signed on the 15th of February, this year. So at present, 10 Minute School is functioning under the Corporate Responsibility department of Robi, who is funding 74% of our operational costs.
This was a major turning point for us because till now, I had been self funding 10 Minute School. But after graduation, where I would’ve had to choose between a full-time job and 10 Minute School, continuing to self-fund stopped being an option. So I had been looking for sponsors for quite some time now.
What are your plans for the future as a successful entrepreneur?
Ayman- After receiving the financial backing from Robi, I decided that I would stick with 10 Minute School, for which of course, I have huge plans.
We have recently started online classes, which have received massive response with 1500-2000 viewers for one class. The next objective is to conduct these online classes through government schools all over the country. Every government school in the country is required to have a Multimedia classroom; through this facility, we plan to air our online classes in as many schools around the country as possible, with scheduled routines for each grade. The potential reach of this project is extraordinary!
However, 10 Minute School is not just about facilitating traditional education. At present, 5.4 lac people go abroad for work, most of who are categorised as ‘unskilled’ labour. With proper vocational training, these people, once skilled, could be earning at least 5 to 10 times on average, wherever they go. THIS is what 10 Minute School aims to be one day – a platform that goes far beyond education, a platform that creates educated, skilled and empowered citizens.