How startup XED Learning Solutions is coaching business leaders
– XEd Learning Solutions
Having worked in the field of executive education for several years, John Kallelil found that very few institution were tailoring their learning solutions to meet the challenges being faced by corporates. “Too many players were offering canned learning solutions which aren’t the best way to impart learning,” he says.
There was an opportunity to fill this gap in executive education and Kallelil was quick to spot it. In October 2015, this Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, graduate founded XED Learning Solutions. “There was a need to bring together conventional education approaches, such as classroom learning, and quality tailor-made learning solutions, especially for the senior management,” says Kallelil, Founder and CEO. XED’s customised executive education programmes for senior corporate leaders are developed and delivered by academics from the world’s leading institutions—Harvard, Wharton, London Business School, among others.
“We are also regional partners to Cornell University’s S C Johnson College of Business, University of North Carolina’s Kenan Flagler Business School, and several Ivyleague schools,” says Kallelil. Among Indiabased institutions, the startup has delivered programmes in partnership with Indian School of Business and Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
The startup engages with the top management of partnering institutions to design programmes suited to their needs. The final design recommends teaching methods, including simulations, industry visits, online and classroom engagements. “We insist on experiential learning considering the seniority of the participants,” says Kallelil. XED counts leading corporate houses as its clients, including the Tata Group, Raymond, SBI and JSW, among others. Founded with an investment of Rs 30 lakh, put in by the founder, the biggest challenge for this Mumbai-based startup was building its leadership team. “Since an effective participant experience was core to our model, we needed to build the best team to work with global faculty and Ivy League schools.
It was a real challenge. But now we have the finest learning consultants with us,” says Kallelil. XED, which has delivered programmes across India, West Asia, Singapore, South Korea and the US, faced an existential crisis when it was starting out. It took a risky shortcut which, says the founder, almost left the company hanging high and dry. “Setting up meetings, presentations and finally contracting institutions seemed a long-drawn process. So, we decided to skip it by inviting company nominations to an open programme on ‘Strategy’ with a renowned USbased faculty,” says Kallelil. The idea was to use this programme to communicate their offering and launch XED’s first commercially viable programme. “We received very little response and we would have gone under in the first month of our launch, as we had already paid for the venue, faculty travel, and tuition fees,” says Kallelil.
Fortunately, one of the country’s largest PSUs came on board and filled up all the seats for the programme. “But we learned our lesson, and have since got better at making calibrated moves,” says Kallelil. Calibrated measures have helped XED perform particularly well. The startup, which now has offices in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Dubai, generated a revenue of Rs 6.3 crore in 2016-17 and is confident of trebling it in the current financial year. Despite its impressive performance, thrust on a classroom-based learning model—as opposed to online classes—poses a challenge to XED’s faster growth. “Our model does not allow us to scale up fast. But classroom programmes offer the highest engagement quality and maximise learning, especially, for senior leaders,” says Kallelil.