Born and brought up in Hyderabad, Vamsee Vanarpathy migrated to the US after five years of education in Europe. He worked for almost seven years in Silicon Valley in various roles in the IT domain. But his passion and longing for setting up his own venture to revolutionize the education industry brought him back to India.
In 2011, Vamsee along with a few of his partners from the US set up a software company in Hyderabad, Gyan Web Solutions Pvt Ltd. They relentlessly worked on an educational web portal called Gyanfinder and launched it publicly.
What is Gyanfinder?
A comprehensive solution that would allow trainers and trainees to meet globally, to collaborate and share knowledge does not exist. This problem affects everybody who wants to acquire or impart knowledge through the online medium.
According to Vamsee, “This could lead to several problems if we ignore it.”
1. A trainer may never be able to understand what a trainee wants.
2. A trainee may never be able to find the precise training in the area of their interest and still pay inflated costs for acquiring the skills and waste considerable time researching on search engines for acquiring skills.
3. A training organization may not find a single platform to advertise its online and classroom trainings.”
To remediate this pain point the team developed Gyanfinder, which is a social training network where people with a passion to procure or impart trainings could congregate, collaborate and socialize while at it.
Gyanfinder intends to act as an intermediate between the trainers and the trainees, organizing and then perpetuating collaborations with its array of services:
For freelancers it provides:
- An exhaustive Trainer database
- Audio and Video Conferencing
- Social Network for collaborations
For organizations, it ensures:
- Corporate LMS Development
- Training Lead Generation
- Training Content Services
Vamsee Vanaparthy is the Founder and CTO, with almost 11 years of solid expertise in web-based products. He has a Bachelors degree in computers from Osmania University, masters in Information Systems from the UK, Kingston University, and an MBA from European University of Cyprus.
Vamsee oversees all aspects of the company’s product R&D and day-to-day technical engagements. He also undertakes the responsibility of administering the marketing aspect of the product.
Kamesh Marty is the Co-Founder and COO who administers various operations involving budget and other financial goals. He is responsible for short-term and long-range planning and budget development to support strategic business goals.
Raju Budharaju is the Director of Strategic Customer Management. Raju joined Gyan Web Solutions in 2012 and oversees all aspects of customer life cycle management such as introducing the product, tracking potential customers, expanding and retaining the user base.
Chyavana Kondapally is the Executive Manager who handles the responsibility of operations in GyanWeb Solutions.
The relaunch – Gyanfinder 2.0 is social
Vamsee explains the reasoning behind the re-launch of Gyanfinder and the introduction of the ‘social’ context.
“We had to relaunch Gyanfinder because of these reasons:
1. The old Gyanfinder used to employ subscription-based model for conducting trainings. We had an issue with the local market since it was a very painful process to attract repeat customers. With the new launch, we have incorporated a commission-based model, where we charge per training occurrence. We charge 15% of the total training fee from trainers and 8% on top training fee from every trainee. This change ensures that we make money on scale.
2. With the old Gyanfinder, we only had the option of live online trainings. Now we have introduced on-demand trainings. Users can come in and access lessons at their convenience.
3. We were a heavily B2C with the old Gyanfinder. But with the emergence of the latest Gyanfinder, we now concentrate on B2B by providing additional services to SMBs and corporate like Corporate LMS development, Mobile application development, training lead generation, training content services and corporate trainings.
4. Our old website did not appeal to the international clientele, hence we have developed the new website in web 2.0 standards and also made it responsive to render properly across different browsers, mobiles and tabs.
5. We did not have any focus on international customers earlier and were targeting purely local customers in Hyderabad and India. But with this launch we want to venture into global markets.”
The Gyanfinder USP
“Our Unique Selling Point is to provide highly scalable social infrastructure for trainers and trainees to collaborate and share knowledge. Nobody has incorporated social aspects to create a collaborative platform. And many of them just concentrate on specific verticals. We are vertical agnostic,” says Vamsee.
Gyanfinder intends to become an end-to-end solution taking care of the entire training and knowledge acquisition process.
LAMP stack has been used for developing the Gyanfinder platform.
- 15% of total training revenue for trainers
- 8% on top of training cost from every trainee
- Corporate services charged on a per-need basis.
Gyanfinder’s competitors are big players like Udemy and smaller ones like bookmytrainings and thinkvidya. But Gyanfinder gets benefitted on scale. More number of trainings with more number of trainees is the secret to their traction.
For now, Gyanfinder is self-funded. The team has invested around INR 1Cr of their personal money to get the product up and running. They are actively seeking funding for getting the product into the market.
Numbers, growth and traction
The product was launched in April, 2012, and the team has accrued INR 30 lacs worth of turnover in the last four quarters. The re-launch was on April 19, 2014. Since then, they have achieved:
– 158 active trainings
– 7500 student base
– 360 active trainers
The cost of a paying customer acquisition stands at INR 450.
Target revenues for 2014 – INR 1 Cr
Market-ready and validated product – big capture size
R&D is pretty much done — no extra waiting time for investors to realize profits
Retention rate only 10% — if improved, can give significant revenue boost