"I think an entrepreneur should be a risk taking person and must be very optimistic in life. " - Maruti Konduri, Cracku
Cracku is a mobile test preparation platform developed by a group of IIT-IIM alumni looking to revolutionize the way students prepare for MBA entrance exams. With an aim to give students the freedom to learn and prepare anywhere & anytime, Cracku was founded by Maruti Konduri, Sayali Kale and Srikanth Lingamneni earlier this year.
In an exclusive interview with CrazyEngineers.com, we got Maruti to talk about his experiences at Cracku, how he got in touch with Sayali and Srikanth, his source of motivation, what made him quit his high paying job and startup with Cracku and a lot more.
Maruti Konduri completed B.Tech in Computer Science from Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay in the year 2008. He worked for various companies such as Rediff and Barclays Capital for about three years before co-founding Cracku.
In the following interview, Maruti also discusses about the best and the worst phase of his entrepreneurial journey and the characteristics he feels are important for becoming a successful entrepreneur. Sit back and read on!
CE: Hello Maruti. Could you tell our readers something about Cracku?
Maruti: Cracku is a test preparation platform and we are trying to make test preparation social and mobile-friendly. Test preparation currently prevalent in India is very individualistic and hence it is causing a lot of stress among students. We are trying to improve the experience of preparing for an examination by making it more social and fun.
Additionally, we are focusing on a mobile first approach and hence are targeting students who want to prepare on the go.
Sayali Kale and Srikanth Lingamneni
CE: How did you come in contact with Srikanth Lingamneni and Sayali Kale, your co-founders at Cracku?
Maruti: Srikanth and I have known each other for more than 11 years and in fact started a football magazine in our under graduation days. Sayali and I were batchmates in IIM Ahmedabad and were settled in Hong Kong after marriage.
The three of us have known each other for nearly five years and have always wanted to start up together. We discussed many ideas to start up and felt that there was a good opportunity for us in the online test preparation segment.
The current test preparation segment is completely individualistic. Although, there have been major advancements in the technology and internet space over the last decade, there has been little change in test preparation. Most of the test preparation platforms today are not catering to the big leaps in technology in the mobile and social network aspects.
We are looking to help students do well in a sector all three of us have done very well and we want to make the whole experience less stressful and more fun.
A short profile about the three of us is given below:
Srikanth, an excellent coder, has worked as a social game developer for Disney and is using that experience to make the online platform more social and fun. He is the Chief Technology Officer at Cracku.
Maruti drives the marketing and public relations aspect of Cracku and is the Chief Executive Officer. A chess-enthusiast at heart, Maruti loves to strategize about everything. He is extremely passionate about start ups and is an active member in the budding Hyderabad start up ecosystem.
Sayali is a problem solving expert and is interested in puzzles of all sorts. Being an avid reader, she loves reading up on obscure topics just to find interesting passages for Cracku reading comprehension quizzes. She is the head of the content section of Cracku and is responsible for developing high quality content for us.
On the whole, we are trying to help students in a field where each one of us has done very well. The team has three 99.9+ CAT percentiles and two top-30 IIT JEE ranks.
CE: From IIT to CAT coaching - What motivated you to startup with Cracku?
Maruti: I worked for an year in Rediff and joined IIM Ahmedabad after that. Since undergraduation, I wanted to start up and along with Srikanth, started an football e-magazine in our final year. It did not really take off, but was a fun thing to do.
Srikanth and I always knew that we would start up together. Around 2013, we felt that we were ready to start-up. Luckily, my wife Sayali is also an entrepreneur at heart and joined us and we launched Cracku.
CE: Post from graduation from IIT Bombay, you worked with Rediff for almost an year. You have also worked with Barclays Capital. Why did you quit your high paying job to start with Cracku?
Maruti: Neither of us was passionate about making money. We wanted to create an excellent product which would help students prepare for examinations better. After working in a high paying job for 2-3 years, we saved some money and it is helping us manage our day to day affairs without the usual teething problems that plague some entrepreneurs.
A more important decision was moving back to India from Hong Kong. We realized that these are historic times for our country. If we were abroad during these days, we would regret not being part of the development of our country.
CE: What according to you is the one thing that should be taught in school that is not already?
Maruti: I think most under graduates should be encouraged to take up more internships so that they know the different kinds of jobs available out there. It often happens that a student doesn’t know the job profile he/she has signed up for until the first day of the job. The fix for this is pretty straight forward and student internships should be encouraged right from the first year of under graduation.
Aaditya - The first employee
CE: Tell me some characteristics that are important to be a successful entrepreneur?
I think an entrepreneur should be a risk taking person and must be very optimistic in life. Every business has many ups and downs and it is very important that an entrepreneur doesn't give up when things are not going well.
CE: What was the best time and the worst time in your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Maruti: Best Time: Every week we receive at least 4-5 mails from students telling us how our product is helping them prepare better. There is no better way to start the day than know that you are helping someone else in a small way.
Worst Time: In the initial days, not many people knew about us. Most of those days were spent making good quality content without getting any recognition in return. At that point of time, we just had to believe that eventually students will find out about us and will find this content useful.