Foradian Technologies was founded in 2009 by eight friends who decided they wanted to work together and took the plunge to start a company - without planning exactly what they would be creating or what market they would be targeting! In a story where passion came first and inspiration struck later, Foradian went from a web development and branding services provider to a school ERP solution provider, after being approached by a local school administrator. This is when Unnikrishnan Koroth, Co-Founder and CEO of Foradian and his partners realized there was an opportunity and need for providing a quality ERP solution that would not cost the earth but at the same time, did not compromise on quality, and their school and campus management information system was born. Fedena handles all school administration tasks right from admission, to attendance and grades, to managing employee payroll.
Affordable, Quality Education Support
Foradian today is one of the world's leading enterprise software solutions providers for educational institutions. Their flagship product, Fedena, is an open source student information system built on the Ruby on Rails web development framework, and operates on the cloud - which means that any educational institution, anywhere in the world can make use of it. There are two versions of the product, a free version and an enhanced Pro version, which is customized to suit a particular educational institution's requirements. The free version is available as is, with any plugins being chargeable. With technology having pervaded the classroom, the staffroom and the business offices at every educational institution, but where users are still hesitant and not very tech savvy, an ERP system that simplifies the process and provides one stop access to all administrative functions is a clear winner.
Attracting Attention, Awards and Funding
Fedena is currently in use in over 40,000 schools and universities around the globe, across over 100 countries. Impressive numbers for a company that is still young enough to be counted on the fingers of one hand. The awards and recognition that have followed in the wake of the company's success are testament to the solution's timeliness and usability in an increasingly complex educational landscape. "What sets us apart is the user friendliness and key features we provide", says Koroth, pointing out that there are actually thousands of companies selling education software. 2012 proved to be a banner year for Foradian. They were named EduStar of the Month by YourStory, a platform that recognizes achievements by startups in the educational space. The company was also recognized through Koroth's inclusion in the TR35 list as one of 35 innovators under 35, the annual list published by MIT's Technology Review magazine.
Foradian was also on the NASSCOM Emerge 50 list that year, winning in the Innovation in product and business model category as well as being named to the Emerge "League of 10" for 2012. Koroth says that the mentoring provided by NASSCOM was very helpful and the connections made due to the association have proved fruitful and given Foradian leverage in deals. "Being a member of NASSCOM is equivalent to being a big software company in India. The advantage we enjoy as a member of NASSCOM is the automatic trust we get when we deal with overseas partners, important when most of our revenues come from outside India," points out Koroth.
A few months ago, came funding to the tune of USD 2 million, from the MD of FabIndia, William Bissell, money Koroth says will go towards expanding their operations and scaling up the product capabilities.
40,000 and counting users is a huge number, but that doesn't necessarily translate into revenues, since only 3000 of those are actual paying customers. The rest are deploying the free version, which gives Foradian its wide customer base. In India, the solution's largest user is the state of Kerala, which has a contract with Fordian and has implemented Fedena across 15,000 schools, providing Foradian a great marketing tool and success story.
Koroth says that 80% of the company's revenues come from outside India, and in emerging markets like Africa and Latin America. The US, in particular is a saturated market, so while Fedena does see some use there, it is the Latin American and African countries where the penetration has been highest. "And we have got a recent project in Nigeria, which has a public education system, where we implemented in about 4000 schools, through our partner there" adds Koroth. With a partner network of 100+ to take the business ahead internationally that Koroth wants to see continue growing in strength, the Foradian team has remained at 30 people over the last 3-4 years.
The company plans to look at the more mature US and European segments aggressively in a year or so, and Koroth underscores the importance of strong partners in these markets, in order for them to succeed. They are also moving into Learning Management with UZITY, an online training and learning management system. This additional focus came about as a result of repeated requests from existing users. After initially saying no, Foradian began a parallel development of the product and it is seeing use by current customers, but Koroth says they aren't pursuing development or marketing aggressively but taking it step by step, wanting to ensure scalability.
Koroth stresses that the most important aspect of Foradian Technologies is attitude and team spirit. He says rather than thinking in terms of one founder or leader, the six friends still involved in the business work in cohesion and together, which attitude is what has brought them from a start-up supported by funding from family, and without a product or solution to their name, to where they are today - leaders and innovators in their field, with over 5 Cr. (1 million USD) in revenues and an ambition of making it into the 100 Cr club.