Founded in 2017 by Sindhuja Jeyabal and Sneha Sheth, Dost Education is committed to empowering parents of any literacy level to take charge of their children’s education. Driven entirely by Exotel’s call automation, Dost Education is changing the way parents from low-income families perceive early education.
About the Program
According to 2011 census, there are 164.48 million children in India between the ages 0-6.
Dost Ki Paathshaala is a school readiness program for children in the 2-6 age range, when parents start thinking actively about the education of the child.
Parents can join the program by placing a missed call. Once added to the program, they received calls 4x a week. The call duration is 1-2 minutes, and covers topics like socio-emotional development, basic cognitive development, behaviour management etc., that parents can work on using simple activities at home.
Spending 2 hours everyday to send out campaigns, using off-the-shelf products was time-consuming. Predictably, there was a lot of room for error. For a small team of 5 members, it was demanding to spend 10 hours every week only for scheduling calls. This left them with less time to concentrate on the content and the intended thinking of helping the parents.
Introduction to Exotel
Sindhuja met Sneha Sheth, who also had worked with education in development sector while they were graduate students at UC Berkeley. The brainchild of their meeting, Dost Education, was born in 2016.
The key to building a successful program, they realised, was to automate the process of delivering the content to parents who signed up. At Y Combinator, the startup accelerator in Mountain View, they met a former employee of Exotel, who told them about how the product would ease so many of their pain points. Sindhuja gave it a try and built her own tool around Exotel’s APIs.
Sindhuja used Exotel’s APIs to deliver an audio program over phone calls to a large number of users. This was a huge step up from the readily available interfaces that enabled sending one-off audio blasts to users.
They segmented parents based on their backgrounds and different attributes. This helped them tweak the messages sent to different users. This made the progression powerful and flexible at the same time.
With the help of call automation, Dost Education has been able to scale down the time spent in sending out call campaigns by 90%.
Tracking Program Engagement
While delivering the content was only one part of the puzzle, it was also important to track the level of engagement and the parents’ understanding of the content that they were being sent.
Exotel’s detailed reports and analytics help them understand the user engagement of the phone calls in real time. This helps them make decisions on whether the content needs any tweaks. Some of the metrics they track to understand the effectiveness of the program are pickup rates and listen rates.
This gives them an insight into the best time to reach the users and also about the average attention span of the users. Apart from this, they also have a parent engagement agent who makes calls to the parents to find out about the impact and retention of the content.
Sindhuja considers this feedback loop an integral part of the system they have built.
Response for the Program
Having launched in February 2017 with 200 users, Dost Education has about 10k users today. Parents find the program very useful as it helps them with strategies to not only handle their daily parenting problems but also to develop a special bond with their child.
The program is successful, because it is not demanding- in terms of time- like the traditional methods. Parents are able to engage freely as it doesn’t veer them off their daily schedule.