The Deccan Herald-Prajavani exam-oriented Mastermind, begun just over a year ago in September 2021 by the news media group, is an online guide for students preparing for competitive employment exams such as the UPSC, KPSC, PSI, FDA, and Banking PO. It is a bilingual ePaper put together by a team of experts leveraging the strengths of two of the Bangalore-based Printers Mysore group’s media brands – Prajavani in Kannada and Deccan Herald in English.
The subscription-based plans provide bilingual content in English and Kannada, multiple-choice tests, explainer videos, practice question papers, and archives to access the content of previous months. Several types of subscriptions are available with the introductory pricing of the annual plan discounted to Rs 399 for a year. The annual plan plus archive is available at Rs 479 and the archive subscription by itself is Rs 129. The archive was initiated recently – after the accumulation of about 10 months of content – as the project goes into its second year.
Sitharaman Shankar, CEO at the Printers Mysore, explains that the Mastermind content is delivered as a four-page ePaper five days a week to subscribers. Two pages are in English, while the other two are in Kannada. The software is the same that is used for the ePapers of the group’s Deccan Herald and Prajavani dailies – the Gurgaon-based Summit’s Smartpaper platform. Videos are embedded within the ePaper – these contain the speech of the instructor along with the content written by a moving pen on the whiteboard in a simulation of the classroom. The instructor speaking is generally the same team member who has written the instructive content.
Online tests corrected – with explanations
Moreover, the group is planning to start producing sets of appropriate multiple-choice exams or tests that the students will take online. They will get back their corrected papers with explanations alongside. The exams will be priced separately and are likely to be launched in November.
Within the first year itself, the Mastermind effort has become financially viable. Shankar says that at one point in the past year, 40,000 subscribers were enrolled online. The aggressive pricing of the first year has been retained as the project goes into its second year. There is also demand for a physical product, a printed four-pager, which, according to Shankar, the group is evaluating as a possibility.
“We’re driven by a genuine desire to help students in their quest to crack these competitive exams, and we have the expertise to make a difference to their prospects,” says Shankar. “For us, it is a natural space to be in, given the wealth of content we have, and the credibility our papers enjoy. It makes sense to monetize this advantage while keeping prices affordable enough to ensure a range of students benefits.”