Cut The Paper Out Of The Admission Forms – Apply Through NoPaperForms

We will have the admission season heating up in couple of weeks and students running all around the campus feeling forms and getting documents attested. As usual we will witness lots of paper wastage, manual data entry and couple of mistakes and few re-applications as well. NoPaperForms wants to cut out all that clutter.

A Mumbai based startup has launched NoPaperForms, a SaaS based tool for creating and hosting admission forms on the fly. With readymade templates for common form types and payment gateway integration, NoPaperForms has got itself a neat product to bank upon. The product is 100% free for the institutions to host their forms but charges the applicants a “service charge” of 4.9% of the application fee with a minimum of Rs.30. Though this is a good pricing structure to keep the institutions happy but not sure if all kinds of students would want to pay a premium to cut the hassle.

Here’s what the team has to say:

1. What is the top most challenge that you are facing in convincing colleges to adopt this solution. What is their “excuse” to not do so?
Since our launch in December 2010, we have successfully acquired 22 schools and colleges across India. We don’t see much resistance against going online. It is a known fact that most academic institutions will eventually begin accepting applications online; it’s just a matter of time before this change becomes all-pervasive.

However, our greatest conversion challenge is in the wide-spread misconception among heads of institutions that their applicants may not know how to use a computer and/or have the means to apply online. We normally ask these principals to take a look around them and ask the people they know whether they are on FaceBook or have email accounts. They are usually surprised with what they find. Almost everyone with basic education has an email account.

Internet penetration in India is low but that is not an indication of computer illiteracy, it only means not having access to the internet at home. There are hundreds of cyber cafes for those who cannot easily get to a computer. Besides, we are developing our own cash coupons to make it easy for unbanked applicants to pay online.

2. How big is the challenge of getting students to pay online via net banking/Credit Card? Do you think colleges will adopt this as an additional medium or the only medium for application.

At colleges that are already online with us, we see up to 60% of students paying online using a credit/debit card or net banking. For those that cannot pay online, we are in the process of offering two offline payment options – bank challan and a NoPaperForms cash coupon.

Most colleges will offer both paper and online applications to begin with. However, we have seen that after the first one or two admission cycles, they usually graduate to retaining only the online process and completely eliminate paper applications.

3. What about “attested copies of related documents” that colleges generally need you to submit while applying?

Within our form-builder platform, we have added a provision for colleges to request applicants to upload scanned copies of transcripts and photos. However, all of our partner institutions have decided not to request anything of the applicant during the online application process. Instead, they request short-listed applicants to bring the originals with them to the interview.

Admission forms are a big business in Indian education system and surely this startup will have its fair share of the pie. What i still have my doubts on is that if this domain requires good products to create business or great muscle power. Would large institutions prefer to have their custom made self hosted tools? May be not. If NoPaperForms cracks the model well it would be a great example of how a simple tool can be packaged so well to hammer out a real pain point.

What’s the next step? A suggestion tool based on real time stats of other applicants to save you money from applying into too aspirational colleges? [Related Startup: Next Leap]

Do check out NoPaperForms and share your views.

[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He is the founder of FindYogi]

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