Learning Made Easy With This Online Tutoring company.
Vedantu is an EdTech company founded by Vamsi Krishna, Saurabh Saxena and Pulkit Jain, all IITians who are also teachers.Vamsi Krishna completed his B.Tech from IIT Bombay in the year 2005. He then co-founded Lakshya. After being associated with Lakshya for more than eight years, Vamsi teamed up with Saurabh Saxena and Pulkit Jain (both Chemical Engineers from IIT Roorkee) to start their company Vedantu in the year 2006.
In an exclusive interview with CrazyEngineers, we got Vamsi to talk about Vedantu, their prior venture Lakshya, the team's source of inspiration, importance of funds for any startup, the EdTech domain, various challenges the team had to face and work-life balance. Read on!
CE: Hi Vamsi. Please give us a brief overview of Vedantu?
Vamsi: Vedantu is a Personalized Online Tutoring company. We offer On-Demand LIVE One-to-One Tutoring to our students, connecting them to best tutors, anytime-anywhere. Our technology enables LIVE tutoring with amazing whiteboard (for live two way interaction), audio and video interaction on a very low bandwidth. Students/Parents can choose from our pool of certified Tutors. Students get personalized tutoring, with flexibility of time and at convenience of home.
CE: You were associated with Lakshya for more than eight years. What inspired you to start up with Vedantu?
Vamsi: This is something we are asked often, infact we summarized it in our blog here https://blog.vedantu.com/2014/07/17/genesis-the-journey-2/
In short during our journey at Lakshya there were certain things we realized:
1. The best of the society doesn’t come back into the profession of teaching: Which was sadly hypocritical because we used to have parents saying that my child has to be taught by the best but when we used to ask whether they will allow their child to teach after their graduation, the answer was resounding no. We felt we had to change this. For a transformational change to happen in education, it has to be able to attract the best of the society into teaching. So we made it one of our missions to ‘Glorify/glamorize the profession of Teaching’
2. Teachers were not by Choice: There was a marked difference in quality of teachers and when we analysed we could classify all into 2 types – those who were teachers by choice and those who were not. We really made this as our motto to induct and create a pool of high quality teachers/mentors who really loved what they were doing. Who were Teachers by Choice.
3. Accessibility: Having started from a small place ourselves we noticed that accessibility was a huge challenge in quality education. Especially in a country like India there was a severe last mile problem.
4. Purpose of Teaching: We also felt from our experience that subject knowledge is secondary, what a child really wants is someone he can trust and look upto, he needs a mentor/friend. Once that relation is established, knowledge automatically flows. Also once this connection is there a teacher, apart from subject knowledge, can instil values. Which should be the true purpose of education and primary role of a good teacher. So there was a need to spread this message and create more mentors rather than subject teachers.
At Lakshya we strived to bring forth changes which facilitates the above points. We were pretty successful at that too, but we realized in a brick and mortar setup there was a limitation to scale.
Vedantu was conceptualized to reach out to a bigger base and bring forth a change in the way learning is perceived and teaching is done. With our previous vision of Lakshya intact we wanted to use technology in education to bring forth a disruptive positive impact, to create more ‘Teachers by Choice‘, to make Quality education more accessible. And this is precisely the motto with which we have started on our new endeavor.
CE: How difficult was it to gather the initial funds to setup Lakshya and then Vedantu?
Vamsi: We were 22 when we started Lakshya (Lakshya started in 2006). We decided that we will not take any funds from our family. We hardly had a collective funds of 3 lacs between us four and needed more to set up initial infrastructure and do marketing. It was very tough to arrange for funds during Lakshya. Banks would refuse saying minimum age for any loan is 24 (never heard of the rule though) and the modes of funding at that time for a startup in India was almost zilch. We luckily found a mentor and Angle in MD of the former employer of ours. He helped us with a loan free fund of 5 lacs. As destiny would have it, that was enough to establish and scale up Lakshya. We never required any further funding and completely bootstrapped.
Setting up Vedantu and finding funding for it was thankfully a task cut out for us.
Owing to our exit from Lakshya we had the capacity to invest our own money into Vedantu. Also because of our track record attracting Angles and VC`s for Vedantu was not an issue.
CE: Has entrepreneurship affected your family and social life? How do you achieve work-life balance?
Vamsi: I guess you need to ask this to my family ?
I guess it’s a challenge every entrepreneur must face especially because its not a 9-6 job. Being an entrepreneur you are constantly engaged and its difficult to draw a line between work and personal life, they tend to get intertwined. What is most important is to have friends and family who respects and recognizes this.
As for the work life balance is concerned for an entrepreneur the venture he is involved in never feels like work, it’s the sheer passion that drives an entrepreneur. However work life balance is important wrt the family who is around him. Personally I do this by first being cognizant of the fact that there needs to be a healthy dose of both. I also ensure taking regular breaks of vacations in between which helps maintain balance and also recharges my batteries.
CE: What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business in your domain?
Vamsi: Education is a field everyone relates to because everyone has gone through it and feels it can be bettered. These days there has been lots of startups in the EdTech space who are trying to disrupt and bring an impact into education using technology. Latest revolutions like Flipped Classrooms and MOOCS have been possible only through technology.
My only advice to edupreneurs who are planning to start their venture is to be patient and passionate. Passion and belief in the end impact their venture wishes to create and patience in pursuing and seeing it through. Its imperative to note that education is an old system which has been happening in a particular way for a very long time. Just because an entrepreneur feels the system is broken and a new change will fix it does not guarantee that people will immediately shift their way of learning/teaching which has been happening for over a century. Hence it is very important to be patient and practical.
My second advice for Edtech startup folks is to not make the mistake of thinking technology first and then bring education into picture, it has to be flipped. The primary use case should be of Education and then weave in technology to better it. This is a major problem with a lot of EdTech companies, they tend to look at this as a technology problem which sadly it isin't. Worse still some people come out with very innovative technology product and then think how to apply it in Education, it simply won`t fly. You need to think education first and then judge if there something in which technology can be used to better it or be made more scalable/accessible etc. It may so happen that technology requirement is very small, it should not matter.
CE: What is the x factor about Vedantu that would make someone want to work for you?
Vamsi: We fondly call ourselves Vedans. Other than the fact that we are a young and a passionate team of Teachers and Hackers the real X factor of Vedantu is our Vision, which is to make Quality education more Accessible. We really believe that accessibility of education is a huge problem in this world and technology can bridge that gap. Technology is the only way we can Democratize Knowledge. It is the sheer impact we as a team envision to create is what makes us going strong and will remain a factor which we believe will attract more like minded & passionate teachers and hackers to come, join as Vedans.
CE: What are some of the challenges you face as the Founder of Vedantu on a day to day basis?
There are lot of challenges any entrepreneur faces while doing a startup like team recruitment, marketing, funding, product market fit, ensuring traction etc.
Most of them are common for any startup and it is these which brings the sheer pleasure of starting up a company, the fun of getting to experience so many things in such a short span of time.
Apart from these at Vedantu we lay a lot of stress on having academic processes perfectly aligned to our ethos and having the right teacher come on board. These require detailed systems and deep scrutiny.
CE: If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Vamsi: It would be fun to live the life of Tony Stark with all his money and brilliance minus the iron man thing ?. I would love to lead this life and see how technology and mind can be used to make the human race evolve. I really believe in making an evolutionary impact to the time in which we live.
9. Thank you for your time. Any message for our readers?
In the end all I wish to say is entrepreneurship is one of the most beautiful thing a person has a chance to experience.
Congratulation to you all entrepreneurs for having chosen to take the road. Remember always that the success is not in the growth, it is not the scale the organisation achieves, it is not even in the change the idea accomplishes. That all is important but more important than these for you is the journey you will be undertaking for the journey exemplifies success. Feel proud about that aspect. Bon Voyage and All the Best ?