In a conversation with Biz Innings, Tas Jawaharlal Nehru, founder and CEO of “The LEEA education Company” shares his milestones, thoughts and his vision of teaching English in a simpler and scientific way.
At a Glance
LEEA ( Laagoon English Educational Academy) is a Coimbatore based organization with a keen focus on augmenting the art of linguistic skills of students with a strong and special emphasis on Communicative English.
LEEA’s primary motto is to help the students community to acquire impeccable proficiency and fluency in ENGLISH. LEEA’s classes are activity-oriented which kindles the curiosity of students of any intellectual level.
Take us through you’re your personal profile and professional engagements?
I hail from a nondescript town called Dindigul in Tamilnadu. After completing my schooling, I pursued my graduation, majored in English Literature, which was my cup of tea. Then I took up masters in Foreign Trade from Kodaikanal Christian college, Kodaikanal. I always wanted to be a trainer in English with a penchant to impart my language skills for the betterment of students. So, I joined as a trainee in a reputed corporate training company in Kochi, Kerala and had a good run over there before starting my own.
Well, what was the Eureka moment for your startup?
My two years stint as a trainer gave me a lot of insights into the training market. I made a considerable research on the learning disabilities of students of different learning levels. The question that dawned upon me was “Why is it that despite being taught English for more than 10 years in school, most Indian students cannot grasp the language fluently”?”How come autowalas in Tourist Destinations possess multi-lingual skills without formal schooling”? In my constant search to answer these questions, I found the kink in the system. The crux of the problem is that English is taught in schools with an Academic pursuit to score marks and not as a language to be gained proficiency upon. I deciphered a huge supply-demand gap in this aspect of learning and decided to bridge the gulf through my venture, which I christened as “LEEA”, the expansion of this acronym is “Laagoon English Educational Academy”. It suddenly dawned upon me to name the company as “Laagoon” and no exclusive reason or sentiment attached to it. The company was incorporated in Coimbatore in May 2016. Now our company is officially called “The LEEA education Company”.
What is the business model of LEEA?
LEEA’s mission and methodology is to impart English language skills in a non-instructional and activity-oriented methodology, which kindles the curiosity of young learners. Each and every concept in English is developed into a game and presented to the students to keep the learning curiosity intact. The students need not remain glued to the blackboard and they voluntarily come forward to speak driven by enthusiasm. The program was named “English Tongue”.
Another kink in the present Educational System is that Teachers do not update their knowledge. In fact, Teachers need to upgrade themselves constantly in order to strike the right chord with the students, which, unfortunately, is a rare phenomenon in India. LEEA developed a program called “TEEM” (Teachers’ Efficiency Enhancement Modules) to re-skill and empower the teachers on various language and leadership skills. Both the programs have already gained traction in many educational institutions in Kerala, which is our target geography at this moment. We are planning to cover more regions in future.
What’s your USP?
More and more parents even in the rural environment, want their children to go to an English Medium school because they feel it will open up better opportunities for them. The Higher education System, as well as the employment sphere are loaded in favour of those who are familiar with English, leaving the rest lagging behind.
Yet, even schools with English Language classes are often unable to impart the fluency needed. The situation worsens and when it is coupled with the dilution in the quality of Teachers. It is a vicious cycle at the end of the day.
The methodology applied in our “English Tongue “ syllabus is not directive that is absorbed from the Teachers’ mouth but derivative that is generated from the comprehension of the students themselves. English Tongue is a Trainer- supported program which is integrated into the academic schedule of the school. The duration of the program is four years and LEEA signs MoU’s with interested Educational Institutions to implement the program.
All well form the initiation or any initial hiccups?
Initially, it was difficult to convince the management of Educational Institutions. Every time, we were bombarded with a question “Why should our institution implement “English Tongue” in our campus”?. We used to give a short demonstration of our activity based Methodology to convince them. After the inception of the program and when the results are evident from students, institutions needed no more assertion of the authenticity of our program. Nowadays, word of mouth helps a lot to tide over initial hesitations.
What’s the current marketing strategy you are riding on?
Presently, we need to beef up our Marketing legion. We are planning to recruit street smart, maverick marketing professionals to expand our presence in southern India. We are looking for the best people and not the right people to achieve this goal.
Since the inception, we achieved amazing market traction. We want to expand without compromising on the quality. The reason is, mindless expansion, may sometimes, tend to dilute quality.
Who’s your core team?
Since our programme is in its infancy, I handle the business development and marketing tasks. My co-founder is my spouse, Ms. Kripa Thachambalath, with a rich and varied Academia experience, who heads the operations of LEEA. Being a scholar in “Early Childhood Education” she is the brain behind the innovate pedagogy of our “English Tongue” programme. Our syllabus is updated and tweaked at regular intervals to avoid cliché and monotony for learners.
How fast are you growing? Any expansion plans?
LEEA is a bootstrapped Company, but we are planning to approach some PE Investors or Education Sector- Agnostic investors since funding is essential to scale up and strengthen our marketing legion. We are looking for funding to the tune of INR 30,00, 000. Our aim is to reach a clientele of 300 schools by the next 5 years across south India.
Any strategies or marketing formulas, which you strongly believe in?
“There is always a gap in the Market. Find your niche over there”.