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India’s edtech startup CollegeDekho raises $8 million to connect students with colleges – TechCrunch

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Indian edtech startup CollegeDekho, which helps students connect with prospective colleges and keep track of exams, has raised $8 million in Series B round.

The new financing round for the four-year-old Gurgaon-based startup was led by its parent company Girnarsoft Education and London-based private equity investor Man Capital, which also participated in the startup’s Series A round last year.

Ruchir Arora, founder and CEO of CollegeDekho told TechCrunch in an interview that the startup will use the capital to expand its presence in more schools and also begin connecting students with international educational institutions. The startup, which has raised $13 million to date, will also ramp up its research and development efforts.

CollegeDekho, hindi for search for college, maintains a website that helps students identify the right career choices for them. The website has a chatbot that answers some of the questions students have while logging their responses and other website activities such as the kind of colleges they are searching for on the platform, their preferred location and budget.

Arora said the startup, which also has about 3,000 call centre representatives and counsellors, builds profiles of students to make college recommendations. He said each month the site observes more than five million sessions from students. Last year, more than 8,000 students used CollegeDekho to take admission in a college.

Parents in India, a country of 1.3 billion people with not the best literacy record, see education as an upward mobility for their children. Each year, more than six to seven million students go to a college. But because of a range of factors that can include cultural stigma, many students end up choosing wrong path and thus don’t excel in college. Indeed, many students ultimately don’t pursue the subject they are best suited for, Arora said, and that’s where CollegeDekho aims to make an impact.

Most high school students in India often gravitate toward engineering or medical college, as a result of which, each year India produces many engineers and doctors who struggle for years to find a job. Arora said his startup looks at more than 2,000 career paths a student could pursue.

What works in favor of Arora is that the country will continue to turn out millions of students each year who will be looking to go to a college soon. It also helps that CollegeDekho is operationally profitable, Arora said, adding that it generates about $3.2 million in revenue in a year. Any additional cash that the startup raises will go into its expansion, he said.

CollegeDekho charges a nominal fee from students, and also takes a cut when they join a college. More than 36,000 educational institutes are listed on CollegeDekho. The startup also works with more than 400 colleges to conduct an exam for direct admission, and there too it earns a cut.

India’s education market, estimated to be grow to $5.7 billion by next year, has emerged as a lucrative opportunity for startups and VCs alike. Bangalore-based Byju’s, which helps millions of students in India prepare for competitive exams, raised $540 million from Naspers and others late last year. Unacademy, which like Byju’s offers online tutoring to students, has raised more than $38.5 million to date.

A legion of other education startups today are vying for the attention of students in the nation. Noida-based AskIITians, not much far from the offices of CollegeDekho, aims to help school-going students prepare for medical and engineering exams. Extramarks, also based in Noida, operates in the same space as AskIITians. Reliance Industries, owned and controlled by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, bought 38.5 percent stake in the startup three years ago.

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New Mobvoi TicWatches won’t run Wear OS 3 at launch, upgrade in 2022

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Google turned the excitement around its next major update to its Wear OS platform and doused it with the cold water of uncertainty. After teasing the improvements that Wear OS 3 would bring to the table, Google left people hanging on whether existing smartwatches, especially those released within the past year and a half, would even get the upgrade. Mobvoi is one of the few that has publicly committed to Wear OS 3, but it seems that there’s a small catch to its promise.

There’s still some confusion and plenty of questions about Google’s plans for the Wear OS 3 rollout. Few smartwatch manufacturers have ever committed to upgrading existing models to the upcoming Wear OS release. There has been speculation that Google raised the minimum hardware requirements for Wear OS 3 that made those older smartwatches incompatible.

Even that, however, isn’t completely clear. The only new smartwatch launching this year with Wear OS 3 that we know so far is Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Watch 4. Mobvoi, the only one so far to use the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform, just launched a new smartwatch, but that didn’t run the new Wear OS. Now it seems that this will be the same story for the next TicWatch devices for the rest of the year until 2022.

In a statement to 9to5Google, the company reveals that its TicWatch Pro 3 (GPS and LTE models) and the new TicWatch E3 will be eligible for a Wear OS 3 upgrade coming in the mid to second half of 2022. It also notes that future TicWatches will be the same, implying that these, too, will launch with the current version of Wear OS, not Wear OS 3.

The good news there is that Mobvoi will upgrade those future smartwatches, but it does leave some doubt whether it will be able to make good on that promise. After all, there’s still more than a year before it rolls out the promised update, and a lot can happen before then. It also still leaves the situation for other smartwatches unclear, leaving consumers uncertain how to move forward with Wear OS 3 just around the corner.

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Windows Your Phone Apps feature could be expanding to more phones

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After giving up on its own attempts at creating its own mobile platform, Microsoft switched to integrating Windows better with Android and iOS. Not all phones or mobile platforms are created equal, of course, and Microsoft has struck a sweet deal with Samsung for even deeper integration that’s exclusive to a select number of Galaxy phones. One of those features includes the ability to run an Android app from the phone in its own window, a feature that might soon be expanding to other phones or at least other Samsung phones.

In addition to a poor choice in naming, Windows’ Your Phone has a confusing number of features that depend on what phone you have. The most basic is Link to Windows, which lets you seamlessly transfer files between an Android phone and a Windows device. Phone Screen, on the other hand, mirrors the entire phone’s screen on the desktop, allowing you to interact with it while keeping your phone away.

And then there’s Apps, which lets you run those Android apps in their own windows. Like the other three features, however, these are mostly exclusive to Samsung’s phones. More recent premium flagships even get extra perks, like the ability to run multiple apps at once.

@ALumia_italia now reveals that the list of supported phones for Your Phone’s “Apps” feature could be expanding. A screenshot reveals a Galaxy A52 having access to a list of Apps, ready for launching any time. The Galaxy A52 supports Phone Screen, also shown in the screenshot, but not Apps.

Just like the Your Phone itself, there is still some confusion over what this means. Microsoft might simply be expanding the compatibility list to more Galaxy phones, or Microsoft could finally be bringing the feature to phones outside of Samsung’s line. The latter, however, requires that Microsoft open up Your Phone itself to other manufacturers’ devices, and one can only hope that will be the case soon.

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Chromebooks and tablets growth in Q2 2021 beat global chip shortage

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Just when things were starting to look up for consumer computing devices last year, 2021 brought its own big problem that’s shaking up more than just the tech industry. PCs, tablets, and Chromebooks enjoyed a surge in interest and sales in 2020 because of new work from home and remote schooling arrangements, but this year’s ongoing component shortage threatens to upset those gains. Despite that bleak scenario, tablet shipments managed to grow in Q2 this year, with Chromebooks showing the biggest wins.

According to IDC’s numbers, Chromebooks grew by 68.6% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year. The 12.3 million units that the market shipped may not be as large as the previous two quarters but still comes close to those. HP has the highest growth at 115.7% year-over-year and also has the lion’s share of that market.

The rapid growth of the Chromebook market has been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, for better or worse, as Google’s Chrome OS continues to spread to new markets. The market analysis company shares that there is a noted uptick in Chromebook sales in Europe, while some countries in Asia are starting to look into the devices for use in schools.

Compared to Chromebooks, tablets had a more modest growth of 4.2%, with 40.5 million units sold. Considering how close tablets were to obsolescence, that’s still a significant improvement. Apple still leads the market with a 31.9% share, while Samsung is at a far second at 19.6%.

Nothing lasts forever, of course, and there are already concerns that this positive status for Chromebooks and tablets could start deteriorating soon. Due to supply concerns, some manufacturers seem to be focusing on more profitable Windows laptops instead. Demand for tablets, on the other hand, is expected to slow down sooner in comparison.

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