Monta: The Solution To Online Education Challenges
Monta is an Iranian startup, founded by Arash Mahabadian more than 7 years ago. This company plans to revolutionize online education by utilizing Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
By Amir Ali Azadi
The massive market of online education has seen a new player in its midst in the form of a knowledge-based platform by the name of Monta. This Iranian platform which has existed for more than 7 years, has a wide audience of schools, universities, educators, and students. This company strives to solve the needs of its users by employing contemporary sciences such as machine learning and Artificial Intelligence.
Monta has seen substantial growth through its lifetime. Just in the span of last year, 550 thousand students have utilized this service and this positive response has given hopes of international success to the founder, Mr. Arash Mahabadian and his team of 150 members.
Products And Competitors
This startup provides a variety of products which covers the entire learning process, as Mr. Mahabadian puts it, including studying, practicing, and evaluation. This full package is something Mr. Mahabadian takes great pride in and claims that many of their competitors, whether they be traditional or modern, lack this comprehensive system. Furthermore, he states that their use of AI to assist students in finding and resolving their issues in the shortest amount of time possible is unparalleled, considering the fact that other companies don’t provide such services.
Mr. Mahabadian elaborates further on his stance on the competition. When asked about the Shad application, one of their modern rivals, he stated “The fact of the matter is that many of the services are similar; but we are all creating a culture, and this culture can help us move beyond the traditional market. This market is so big that it gives us a competitive atmosphere. We are glad that Shad was created; because being competitive is really helpful and it also helps to create a culture.”
Machine Learning and AI Of Monta
To quench our curiosities about the use of Machine Learning and AI in Monta, the founder clarified the utility of these tools. This startup initiated by creating a comprehensive bank of questions. Next, they categorized these questions with various labels and then by using machine learning and the answers, they identify the level of the student in each subject. There are of course, a plethora of labels and methods of categorization. For instance, the Coefficient of Distinction, which is a measurement of how effective a question is in distinguishing weak students from the more talented.
Using all of these categorizations and machine learning algorithms, Monta evaluates the capabilities of a student and provides them with learning courses that best suit them. Each course is segmented into different packages which include 40 to 90 minutes of videos, textbooks, 3 levels of exercises and 2 sets of smart tests which are constantly altered. It goes without saying that there are packages for all targets such as packages for, konkur, final exams and etc.
We can also take a look at some of the awe-inspiring statistics of the Monta startup. It is said that there are approximately 12 million students in Iran, excluding the first and second years of elementary school, who utilize different learning programs. And of these 12 million, 550 thousand of them take advantage of Monta’s services. In addition, there have been roughly 4500 schools and institutions, 20 thousand teachers and 1.1 million students who have used this system to this day. Currently, there are 30 thousand daily exams which are taken by 1 to 10 students and each question of these tests has been used more than a thousand times. These are astronomical numbers which validate the claim that Monta constitutes, 25 percent of the online education market in Iran. To give some context, it’s estimated that the yearly value of the pre-university education market in Iran is around 4500 billion tomans, 5 percent of which is constituted by the online market.
If these numbers weren’t impressive enough, Mr. Mahabadian is optimistic that the statistics will continue to grow along with the obvious surge in the online education market. Moreover, the founder of Monta doesn’t seem concerned with the post-covid era since, allegedly, there doesn’t seem to be any change in costumer behavior.
Challenges Of Monta
As is the case with any startup, Monta faces many challenges other than the financial. Firstly, the culture of traditional education in schools. Early in Monta’s life, many schools were happy to welcome their products; however, they weren’t willing to purchase them due to a sensible fear of Internet disruption.
The second issue is producing content which can only become a challenge when a person or a group of people intent to build a bank of 300 to 400 thousand question. Beyond that, this isn’t merely a complication of quantity, it is also a matter quality. For example, there cannot duplicate question.
To solve this dilemma, Monta once again sought the help of Machine Learning. In this situation, they first scored each question and after the scores were tallied up, only the questions with similar scores would be assessed by humans. This challenge was so perplexing that it took the company 2 years to solve it and create their first question bank. Although, worth mentioning that since then Monta has become more proficient at this task to the point where this process is repeated on a yearly basis.
Business Model And Services
When looking at Monta’s business model, one soon realizes that it is a combination of B2B and B2C models. This comprehensive approach is a result of the company realizing that education is a complicated product since, in most cases the costumer (or in this case the student) isn’t the one who makes the final decision. As a matter of fact, it is the schools and teacher who dictate which sources should be adopted. So, by gaining the trust of instructors, Monta managed to target their main goal which were students.
As for future services, we can first look at the market place which is designed for teachers and authors to earn an income. Another exciting service which is in development, are lessons which are not included in the syllabus of schools or universities but are as important for this age group. To name a few we can mention Life Style and Soft Skill classes. The last aspiration that was brought up by Mr. Mahabadian, was the goal of entrusting the process of content creation to the users and collective wisdom so that Monta can focus on management and quality assessment of said content, in hopes of one day becoming a worldwide name.