It is not often that you expect to hear names such as Coursera, Udacity and Udemy to come up when you ask the founder of an Indian startup about the competition. But this is exactly what Subhendu Panigrahi of Venturesity told us. Venturesity is an online university quite similar to the big names mentioned above, with a twist, which gives it a much better conversion than the meager 10% course-completion statistic of the larger MOOCs.
What started as an idea to find and curate great talent for technology companies, initially, has now moved to creating that talent for the industry. It is only obvious that if there is an existing dearth of talent, you stop searching and start nurturing it. Hence, the idea of doing courses and creating talent was formed.
Venturesity’s solution is an industry vetted curriculum that is taught by top industry practitioners. Each course includes hands-on project work where one needs to create an app or website. The students who are talent-ready are then connected to the hiring partners for jobs, internship and freelancing opportunities.
An IITian and an I-banker come together
Subhendu was running Innovation Angels after graduating from IIT-Kharagpur. Prashant Koirala graduated from University of Maryland and was working as an investment banker. After a slew of brainstorming sessions they realized that both of them were passionate about education and recruiting. This was when they decided to come together to create the company in June of 2013.
How exactly does Venturesity work?
Venturesity has a panel of instructors consisting of a global network of industry professionals, thought leaders and subject-matter experts. Students sign up for the course. They do not provide recorded versions of classes. Instructors and students interact with each other over the platform. All classes are live, unlike the big-name MOOCs.
Recorded versions are provided only if a student misses out on a lecture. But the student engagement does not end with the completion of the course. They conduct several hackathons and other continuing-education initiatives to ensure that the students are ready-to-hire.
“Our hackathons are actually part of the learning process, where our students collaborate with other professionals and create apps. Companies participate as hiring partners and talk to the hackers. This completes the loop,” explains Subhendu.
An example is the Android Hackathon that they conducted where the theme was to create apps that will mobilize voters to ‘Get out the Vote! Get out the Voice!’
Subhendu has been the go-to guy in the Bangalore startup ecosystem for quite a while. This has helped Venturesity build the brand name. They have been able to acquire students as well as hiring partners organically due to the value that they created even before starting the company.
“We have done courses for around 150 students from India, Singapore, Dubai and even Egypt, Ireland, and Australia,” says Subhendu.
At present, the platform has eight tracks and 10 courses. “We are planning to add more courses in our tracks. As the market feeds us with more data, we will be adding interesting courses and building our tracks along with recruiting world class instructors,” he adds.
The average price of a course is INR 10,000 and goes as high as INR 20,000. The tracks include Big Data, analytics, marketing, product design etc. with courses like Hadoop, SEM and Android app development.
The core team consists of techies, entrepreneurs and VCs who bring the right skills sets and experience into the company. “33% of our employees are female,” Subhendu proclaims proudly.
He refuses to reveal the revenue details and projections though. Venturesity has raised a small angel round from strategic investors and is looking to raise a Series A to head forward.
What keeps them going?
“It’s the same thing that drives all entrepreneurs, to do something bigger than themselves and leave a long-lasting impact. All of us are equally excited to build a company which becomes the go-to-place to learn new technologies and build a career,” states Subhendu.
So, how does he handle all the stress that comes with running a startup? “Need to handle lot of stress? Well, chilled beer is the answer,” he quips.
Few words for fellow entrepreneurs
We see startups as the agents of change. As rightly put by Abraham Maslow, a famous American psychologist, “The most valuable 100 people to bring into a deteriorating society would not be chemists, or politicians, or engineers, but rather 100 entrepreneurs.” Entrepreneurs are going to play an important role in shaping the future of our country.
- Build a good team, quickly.
- Invest in employees by getting them up to speed.
- Have a world class customer support.
- Make your customer your voice, not your ads.