FILO is a self-study app, founded by Imbesat Ahmad and Shadman Anwar to break the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy.
Education changes lives and redefines nations and their future. While the Indian government is bringing in a number of reforms, poverty and accessibility continue to be massive problems for even the best students in India. The founders of FILO knows this because they “were these students” and were lucky enough that stars aligned for them at the right time.
That is not true for millions of deserving students in India. And even in many countries around the world. Current ed-tech companies are too expensive and inaccessible to students who do not like in urban areas or are too poor to pay the hefty fees.
FILO is a sachet education app that aims to bridge this foundational divide for millions of deserving students of India with a lifeline – a simple video call that connects students with expert teachers who help answer their questions & explain them concepts they are stuck at.
The making of FILO
FILO, which means a ‘friend’ was founded by Imbesat Ahmad and Shadman Anwar to break the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy.
It enables class 9 to 12 students including JEE/NEET aspirants to resolve their queries by getting on a free video call with experts right when they need help the most. The experts are highly-qualified professionals and a team of undergrads from prestigious institutions in India like IIT, NIT, etc.
Imbesat, who hails from Patna dreamt of studying at IIT. While his family couldn’t afford tuition, he studied for free with the help of Super30, led by the then DGP of Bihar Police, Mr Abhayanand, and got into IIT Kharagpur.
At Super30 he discovered his love for teaching and how it could impact lives drastically. He volunteered in the NSS and taught people, including those who lived in the Naxal areas.
He continued to teach students and during one workshop in Srinagar, he learned that a boy had traveled over 50kms to ask him a question. This made him work for education in Kashmir and gave birth to RiSE, an institution that helps students from Kashmir achieve their dreams.
In the last decade of teaching and interacting with students, Imbesat realized that self-study was the most important way for students to grasp knowledge. This led to the core idea behind FILO.
The Power Of Purpose
“During self-study, a majority of students get stuck multiple times at different stages, especially the ones who can’t afford expensive private online or offline coaching. This leads to them resorting to the mecca for millennials, which of course, is the internet, where they spend hours looking up their queries. However, sifting through a wad of information becomes an unending task in itself, and they end up wasting a lot of time. The students then have no option but to endlessly wait for their next class to have their questions answered, while also struggling to sync with their peers and teachers alike,” says Imbesat.
FILO was created to solve this problem at scale for millions of students. FILO connects students with the best possible resources based on their questions so that real learning can take place, instead of rote-learning which hurts students for a long time. The founders understand that a student’s future is highly dependent on how well they learn their subjects and FILO aims to be the bridge whenever students need help.
100 Days of FILO
Just within the first 100 days, FILO has experienced a pull that is a rare sight in the startup world.
12,000+ students from different Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, etc. have called in 100,000+ times and experienced 3,50,000+ minutes of live sessions on the FILO app in the first 100 days.
A number of stories have further inspired FILO founders.
Saeed B is a student from Bandipora in Jammu & Kashmir who uses FILO to clear his understanding of concepts in math as he carefully organizes his weekly study plan. Getting clarification on specific questions from FILO teachers on-demand helps him to keep his schedule and not run into a backlog.
Keerthan N is a student from Khammam district in Telagana who has called into FILO more than 40 times to get help with calculus and says “When I use FILO, it feels like I am speaking with a helpful friend or a senior who helps me understand a concept that I stuck at without being judged. It has been a lifeline for me”.
Dheeraj lived in Kota in Rajasthan. He’s used FILO for help in Physics, Chemistry as well as Mathematics. “I solve HC Verma’s tough conceptual questions and when I look up help online on recorded videos and live classes, it fails to address my need as it forces me to think according to a video. That breaks my flow of thinking. FILO has been really what I have wanted – I was able to speak with teachers on FILO who quickly understood the mistake I was making and helped me correct it. Atif sir was a great help in understanding one important aspect of Differentiation”, says Dheeraj.
FILO is well on its way to re-imagine education in India with a fresh & inclusive view of the problem that stems from the founder’s own journey from their small means to studying at IITs and building their careers.