July 30, 2023

Start-up bets on rural Tamil Nadu, to enhance students’ speaking skills

At a time when players in the education space want to grow businesses in Tier-1 cities, a Chennai-based start-up DreamDaa is betting big on rural markets and tier-2 towns.

DreamDaa is a spoken English tutorial class which is AI driven and the user interface is in Tamil. The firm focuses on colleges in tier-2 and tier-3 towns and has tied up with two colleges — one in Tirunelveli and the other at Salem.

“When we were discussing about how to reach the $1 trillion economy vision - we realised that there are multiple factors to reach that destination. And one of it was having students from small towns and without their participation this vision cannot be achieved,” said Suresh Sambandam, founder and CEO of Kissflow, who has been mentoring and hand-holding the DreamDaa team. 

He said: “When we tried to find out what is stopping these students from being part of this inclusive story, we realised that it was the language barrier. A student with average subject knowledge and a good command in English always has an upper hand when compared to a student who is good at academics and subject knowledge but poor in communication skills. Unfortunately, people are assessed based on communication skills and we want to address this issue through DreamDaa.”

The start-up was incubated under Idea Pattarai initiative of Dream Tamil Nadu Foundation. Idea Pattarai, an initiative of Mr. Sambandam, is a start-up school that coaches early stage founders to build global brands.

“Employment rates at these small towns can be improved if students know how to speak confidently in English,” said Kaviya Raj Kamaraj, CEO of DreamDaa. She said: “We have set up physical labs at the colleges we are associated with. We set up our devices and load our software into it and integrate English into their curriculum calendar,” she said.

The content is presented in the form of over 400 videos, delivered in the learners’ native language (Tamil), ensuring that every learner fully understands every lesson. Each concept is paired with interactive exercises (about 3,000 in total) and voice recognition speech analysis via a customised Google speech engine. 

DreamDaa intends to reach 100 colleges by the end of 2024. At present, around 2,500 students are taking up its modules and the firm intends to scale this up to a lakh in two years time. The start-up was funded by its mentors and supporters and is now looking at raising funds to reach more locations.

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