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28Mar2018

Naaree Interviews Minal Anand, Founder and CEO, GuruQ

Minal Anand is a young enthusiastic millennial entrepreneur and the founder of her first venture, GuruQ, a unique digital integrated platform that connects tutors and students with ease.

As Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) she is the innovator at GuruQ, an ed-tech platform that promises to bring high-quality standards and new age methodologies to the way education is delivered in India.

She completed her degree at Boston University in three years instead of the designated four with a sparkling alacrity to join the professional world where she could apply theories to real-life situations. She returned to India to join Delhi-based HPL Additives as Assistant Manager – Corporate Development.

However, the urge to do something in the field of education drove Minal to explore the Ed-tech sector – one of India’s most prolific segments. She had previously taught several underprivileged school students and it is this very experience that helped her with the business idea.

Minal sees the importance of equipping tutors with the latest teaching methodologies and keeping them updated with international and national innovations. Her quest for doing something innovative made her delve deeper, understand the challenges and create a platform that would revolutionise the education system.

Hence, she conceptualized GuruQ as a single, simplified & cohesive ed-tech platform that provides online and offline tutoring and designed it based on insights drawn from comprehensive consumer research to address the need-gap for quality tutors.

Naaree.com caught up with Minal Anand to discuss her startup and the lessons it taught her about entrepreneurship.

Please describe your startup, GuruQ. What does it offer and why is it unique?

Guru Q is an educational technology or Ed-tech company that provides customized learning solutions to students through a structured tutor-connect platform. The company lays a zealous focus on assisting tutors and equipping them with the right tools and processes to recast the focus of the test-prep industry.

The online platform offers tutor connect for primary, secondary, higher secondary, undergraduate and postgraduate courses including Gmat, Jee IIT and other entrance courses.

What sets Guru Q apart is the fact that it provides value-added services that are paybacks for tutors including seminars by reputed personalities, awards and competitions.

With the Indian Edtech market pegged at over $70 billion in 2017, Guru Q’s inimitable services have found several takers thanks to its online platform that comes equipped with a technology tool on the dashboard that is a one-stop solution allowing students to schedule classes, receive assignments and take tests.

It also allows tutors to keep a track record of the student improvements. The payment system is managed by Guru Q eschewing the need for tutors to collect fees from the students.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

During my college education in the USA, I saw a dramatic difference in the education system there, vis-à-vis that in India – its quality, the predominant use of the digital platform and ground-breaking teaching methodologies.

Even back home, I witnessed a huge disparity between students who had studied abroad and those who had not. A big reason for this difference is that the educators in India are not well-equipped or well-versed in innovative teaching methods.

I realized that the need for quality education in India is palpable. Also, since many Indian parents are highly dependent on tutoring, there is a pressing need for the ubiquitous tutors who can guide students.

What are some challenges that you faced initially when you started out?

 The journey so far has been one of exploration and experimentation. This is best exemplified by the fact that just 5 months into operations and we have already begun revamping our entire digital infrastructure including the website and dashboard.

While the challenges have been across various areas such as the processes, technology, design etc. but we have overcome them all keeping only one thing in focus – the ‘Experience’ we are able to provide by integrating the various ingredients of our operations.

It has been only 5 months since its inception and GuruQ has got over 15000 tutor registrations and has certified over 1500 tutors on its platform. We just completed 500 hours of tutoring and the best is yet to come after the launch of the GuruQ Platform 2.0.

Our focus is on Delhi NCR for the 1st year but we intend to eventually cater to all major cities through a phase-wise expansion. But we have begun online tuitions Pan India since the medium transcends all boundaries.

What are all the things that an entrepreneur needs to keep in mind? i.e. apart from your great idea, what do you need to be armed with?

  1. A Good & reliable Team cause nobody can do it alone
  2. Financial backing – unfortunately this is the hard truth of life, to succeed you need some form seed capital and then continuous funding if you wish to grow your business at a rapid pace
  3. Perseverance – without hard work and the utmost dedication nobody can achieve success – there are no shortcuts in life

Did you have a mentor to guide you through your entrepreneurial journey? In your opinion, what does a mentor bring to the table?

No, I didn’t really have a mentor in particular, but I did have people that I idolized and wanted to embody starting with my father and grandfather whose sense of business and drive has always been a huge source of inspiration for me.

Furthermore, prominent female figures like Sheryl Sandberg, Indira Nooyi, Priyanka Chopra who have been trailblazers, influencers and conquered their respective industries have been an embodiment of courage, strength and perseverance proving that hard work & dedication does lead to success

How did you recruit your first team? What advice do you have for building and nurturing teams in your startup?

I recruited my employees through various HR consultancies and firms. Surprisingly in a country with a population of approx. 1.3 billion, finding and forming a team with reliable, responsible and motivated people is probably the toughest part about starting your own venture.

Therefore, my biggest piece of advice will be to not settle for the first few people you meet. It is important to fully pre-vet the people and ensure that your visions align.

Today’s youth is much more exposed and require very high levels of job satisfaction. Therefore it is vital to keep your team motivated though incentives and provide a conducive and engaging work environment.

Please describe some successes and failures you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur.

My successes are closely tied to my failures, and which is what makes me sure that the more failures I encounter the more assured I can be of future successes.

So the first success was due to my failure of choosing the wrong partner due to the lack of technical knowledge. But behind this failure was a lot of learning on what I needed to know to get the right platform developed.

The second success was due to my failure of not prioritizing my expenses. This experience made me money wise and helped me cut down on unnecessary expenses, and treat the necessary expenses as investments that have their own returns.

The third and the most critical success which is yet to come is due to my initial lack of foresight but with time, experience, constant learning and engaging with my peers in the EdTech sector, I have now developed the vision of what direction I should take GuruQ towards.

What are 3 key lessons that you have learned as an entrepreneur?

My first key lesson is that successful organizations are built on ‘people energy’ and successful entrepreneurs need to know how to find the right people for the right task-activity-job.

The second lesson is that entrepreneurs need to develop a balancing act whereby internally they should be like a student – constantly learning and evolving – while externally they should exude the self-confidence of a Maestro – inspiring and motivating everyone around.

And last but not the least, entrepreneurs should have the single-minded focus on how to provide ever increasing value to their customers. For this, it is essential that they remain in constant touch with their target audiences and develop the empathy to comprehend their ever-changing needs.

© Naaree.com

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