A graduate in Business Administration from the School of Management at Boston University, Minal Anand had worked at companies like Franklin Templeton, Citigroup to gain relevant experience on business planning, fund raising, enterprise design and structuring, and talent management. During her college education in USA, she saw a dramatic difference in the education system there, vis-à-vis that in India – its quality, the predominant use of digital platform and ground-breaking teaching methodologies. 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. Minal is now the Founder and CEO of GuruQ, a unique and integrated digital platform that promises to bring high quality standards and new age methodologies to the way education is imparted in India. In an exclusive interaction with Higher Education Digest, Minal talks about her life as a young woman entrepreneur and trends that are disrupting the education technology sector.
- In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur.
- As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you? How do you handle failures?
Reading and watching documentaries about other people’s success stories and how people from different backgrounds and walks of life have been successful after overcoming various predicaments and obstacles.
Being a woman in this corporate world dominated by men, is not always easy. Being a young petite woman, I am often looked upon as unqualified, incompetent or unable to perform, without even knowing me or my work, simply because I don’t fit the regular mold of being a middle-aged man. Many a time, this makes you angry for being judged not by your work but by how you look or who you are on the outside. However, I only use this as motivation and fuels me up, even more, to prove them wrong and drive me to show these very people what I can actually do. It stopped weighing me down but rather catapulting me to achieve my goals.
- What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Having a good idea is key! I always tell entrepreneurs that when they have an idea, they must come up with at least 50 reasons why their idea is unique and why it will work. Once you have a solid idea, you need a strong business plan and vision.
After that, you have to put your full potential to building your business. It’s a game of hard work, perseverance, and patience.
Having a strong and reliable team is the other key, along with supporting partners.
Another element that entrepreneurs need to have is mental strength. You need to be strong to deal with the ups and downs. Not all days are going to be good and you must have the strength and patience to deal with the hurdles you encounter on your journey. Every day is a new battle that must be taken head-on. While the struggles are tough, the successes are as worthwhile and rewarding – that is the life of an entrepreneur.
- What is the role of educational technologies in the education system now?
Education technology is now actively playing a complementary role in schools in the education system. While a child is still going to school and learning the traditional way, the ed-tech sector is looking to enhance the education of a child and extend it beyond the classroom through various platforms that provide curated and customized content, or provide at-home teachers for extra help, or even help students take up a new non-academic hobby or learn a language.
- Digital education has the capability to change the educational landscape of rural India. What is the current status of digital learning in India and what will be the focus of GuruQ in the market?
Digital learning in India has come a long way. With the rise of broadband providers, the internet has percolated into rural India, allowing students even in villages to learn via digital mediums. India has come a long way in providing education to rural areas but is yet to tread a long way ahead.
In the future, GuruQ will look to partner with the public and govt. schools to train teachers in rural areas through online and face-to-face interactions. These teacher training programs will ensure that the teachers in villages are well versed and equipped to teach their students. GuruQ teachers will be able to supervise and regularly manage teachers in remote rural areas through its in-built online teaching dashboard. Not only will teachers sitting in big cities be able to train teachers, but they will also be able to interact directly with students in villages allowing them to learn and be exposed to more.
- What are the common misconceptions Indian students have about on-demand tutoring? What is the strategy GuruQ has adopted to attract more students towards on-demand tutoring services?
Firstly, I believe the biggest myth behind tutoring is that “Only weak students need tutoring”. Well, that is simply not the case. Tutoring is an option available to all students and is not limited to weaker students. While yes tutoring is used by weaker students to understand concepts better, it can also be used by academically advanced students to strengthen their understanding or further improve their scores. Tutoring is also used by students to ensure maximum clarity of concepts, revision of material taught in school and a way to stay ahead of the class and your peers.
GuruQ attracts students by offering them top rated vetted tutors at their fingertips. It connects a student to the best tutor available in a better and easier way. Parents and students can make informed and practical decisions through feedback such as ratings and tutor reviews based on the services derived from the abundance of teaching options. This platform has a Q-points reward system that students and tutors can use to avail of a variety of benefits.
- How to keep learners motivated and engaged in this digital era?
We must keep adding new and innovative features that solve the problems and needs of the students.
The newest feature GuruQ has added is of Group Classes. Students can now use the platform to create study groups with friends with any tutor of their choice. This allows friends to study together and create some healthy competition while making the classes more economical. This allows learning to be fun as well as allowing friends to push each other to learn more and do better.
GuruQ is also launching some never-seen-before features that are going to revolutionize the tutoring industry.
- What are the top trends in the education sector to watch out in the academic year 2019-20?
The top trends that schools are leaning towards this year would probably be the implementation of various digital courses such as AI, being more inclusive with study and career options such as sports nutrition, environment management, etc. Schools are looking to give their students a more all-rounded education more than ever before, to ensure they are prepared and equipped to enter into the future workforce.
- What are your advices to the learners and student entrepreneurs who are starting out?
I would like to advise learners to never stop learning. Learning and gaining knowledge has no expiration date, it continues throughout one’s life. Surround yourself with people that know more than you so they can help you learn and grow. Also, remember that perseverance is key. If we truly want something, we should keep working at it and persevere to achieve our goals. There is no substitute for hard work.
For entrepreneurs, be 100% sure of the idea you want to pursue. Make sure you have a robust business plan and enough financial backing to make your vision a reality.
Surround yourself with people smarter than you – that’s the only way you will learn and grow.
Again, there is no shortcut to hard work. It’s simply the harder you work the more successful you will be. It’s that simple. But yes, hard work must be accompanied by smart work. Make sure you not only work hard but also smart by ensuring maximum efficiency and utilization of time.