To be a woman in India and to be an entrepreneur in India are two separate considerations. Being both in India, however, is an entirely different story. In my experience, it has been and continues to be a mixed odyssey of emotions and experiences that, as they all say, can only be understood by another woman.
So, the seeds of my entrepreneurial journey were sown during my college days in the USA when I saw a dramatic difference in the education system there, vis-à-vis that in India — it's quality, the predominant use of digital platforms and ground-breaking teaching methodologies. In India, the scenario is different, and I could see that although schools in India are making considerable efforts to provide quality education, yet the teacher-to-student ratio in schools today does not allow teachers to devote quality time to every student. This coupled with the increasing competitiveness among students is leading Indian students to take up extra-schooling (tuitions). The challenges of finding a good, reliable tutor are the bane of most parents and students. I figured if private tuitions are an unavoidable reality, then maybe one can make use of technology to improve the accessibility to good quality tutors. Thus, began my quest to create India’s largest digital community for quality tutors. My venture, GuruQ is a digital platform that aims to aggregate quality tutors and revolutionize home tuitions, both offline and online.
To me, it seemed like a radical idea and I thought India would gladly embrace it immediately. However, the transition from an idea to a working model to a fully functional business was much harder than it looked on paper. Likewise, it took much longer than expected. Plus, as a woman in India, you are more likely and more susceptible to judgement and critique from outsiders. Getting people to invest in your idea and to trust you in bringing it to fruition, was the primary challenge. However, I believe the only way to shut down people’s opinions and doubts about my abilities to succeed, is through my work. I prefer my work, dedication and intellect to do the talking. And it worked.
My journey so far has been one of exploration and experimentation. This is best exemplified by the fact that just 5 months into operations we began revamping our entire digital infrastructure including the website and dashboard. While the challenges have been across various areas such as the processes, technology, design, people and finance, we overcame them all keeping only one thing in focus - the 'User Experience' that we are able to provide by integrating the various ingredients of our operations.
Like all start-ups, we had our fair share of breakdowns along the way. Initially, funding the venture was a problem. But we worked as a team with one mantra - Perseverance. We were able to convince a team of HNI angel investors and raised our first round of funding. As a team, we believed nothing is impossible and that there is no substitute for hard work. I truly believe that success follows those who don’t run after it but show their commitment towards it through their actions, dedication and perseverance.
As we progressed, we had to revisit the drawing board several times, make technical alterations to the platform, troubleshoot problems and remove bugs. But we learnt more and more as we went along. Leo Buscaglia had said, "Change should be the end result of true learning". And this applies not just to the learner but also the entities who facilitate or enable the learning. My advice to budding entrepreneurs is to learn constantly since only learning will drive the other constant – Change.
Initially, people were sceptical but when they saw our commitment, zeal and progress many stepped forward to be a part of our venture. We put together a formidable advisory board comprising top experienced academicians. With strong technical and marketing teams in place, GuruQ was set to roll. Today, GuruQ is India’s best digital platform that connects students and parents with the right tutors. In three effortless steps students and parents can find the right tutor. On the other hand, tutors get different benefits like a
As for myself, I believe I am my biggest motivator. And I think most women are like that. Plus, they can multi-task, which is their biggest strength. I set goals for myself that are vital for me to achieve to attain the level of success, freedom, and enlightenment I desire. I have learnt that success doesn’t come easy and I won’t say I have been successful yet. To me, success is a journey dotted with many milestones that one must cover. Even failure is a milestone. Take it with a pinch of salt and move on!
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