Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur and not pursue a regular job?
Taking up entrepreneurship wasn’t a conscious decision. I was very confused about what I wanted to do, but was equally sure-footed about what I won’t do. Working at a company doing mundane jobs that do not make a difference to anyone is something I clearly detested. On the contrary, I enjoyed this small venture that I has started, it seemed to make a difference to students, changed the way BMS students pursued education and was doing well in the MBA space, too. It was only logical to work on something that interests you.
Can you tell us what kind of challenges you faced during the initial years?
Management Paradise (MP) has been in existence since November 2004 when I was still a student in SYBMS. I had a strong urge to do something big, to change the way things worked and to better the education system. With this in mind I founded MP, which flourished with the help of many like-minded people. However, we faced a lot of problems initially because it was difficult to make professors, who were not tech-savvy, understand that web is all about sharing information. A few even spread unfavourable opinions about the forum in the beginning, but the same people asked me to refer them students for coaching classes after the forum showed signs of success. The forum is still misunderstood by many as a place where project reports can be copy-pasted, but most of the members know that it provides an ocean of information and is a double-edged sword that can be used either ways.
Getting people when we were not making enough monetary gains to pay them but still expecting the same of amount of commitment and passion was another challenge. But I am lucky to have found people who like gems and have stood with me like pillars.
The initial months were very arduous. I was only 19 then and we only had one computer for our venture. Moreover, it required a lot of manual work through telephonic Internet connection, which was very expensive in those days. But it’s all paying up now. What started with less than 10 hits a day is now running with over 10 thousand people visiting the site every day and over a million page views every month.
What was the turning point in your career?
We are yet to witness that. But I hope to see that turning point as venture capital money in the near future.
Did you, at any point, feel like giving up on your venture?
Quitting was never an option. But honestly, I did think of taking up a regular job many a time during a years’ gap between my graduation and MBA. I even applied to a few companies but they also believed I was meant for business. May be I was aiming at the wrong companies but a BMS graduate did not have many job options back in 2005. Now, I’m thankful to those who rejected me; it has got me this far.
What drives you?
The passion to reinvent management education and helping people keeps me on my toes. For instance, our BMS exam results were due and got delayed because of riots in Mumbai. I, along with a friend Pratik Mehta, went to Kalina University where the results were put up. We manually typed the whole list of over 5,000 students and delivered it online. We got innumerable calls thanking us for our efforts. It’s the joy of making a difference to a student’s life that drives me.
Could you please elaborate on your business model?
Everything that touches management education is our kingdom. We cater to BMS, BBI, BAF and MBA students to handhold them in their journey from being a Bachelor in management to obtaining a Masters degree. We bridge the gap between education that an IIM student receives and one that is imparted to St Francis MBA through research dissemination. With over 89,000 members, MP is revolutionizing management education on all fronts.
MP helps students in their research reports. If a person is confused about what he should include in his report on "Venture Capital", he can log on to MP website and place a request. We then provide help on the subject and person has to post the report on the forum once his project is completed. Another student working on similar project can use this same report as a reference point. Our TG started from BMS and we expanded into MBA. After knowing that the market for Banking and Insurance has become lucrative, we spearheaded into it and now we are weighing our options with BAF and BMM courses as well.
Do you plan to scale up?
Yes definitely. We are almost a 100 thousand member strong with an alexa ranking of top 20k sites in the world and nearing the top 10k rapidly. We have not approached any venture capitalist because of the current global meltdown. But I have great ideas for MP and if any venture capitalist is interested in discussing funding opportunities, I would love to network.
What are the growth drivers / vision for your enterprise?
Reining MBA aspirants and professionals who wish to revisit MBA education online. Today, management education is given a lot of significance and with the CAT going online, the industry will only expand and so shall we, both geographically as well as in terms of domain penetration.
Can you give some tips to budding entrepreneurs?
Always think you are right. The world might not be ready for your innovations; you may even be considered a wannabe or a whacko, your ideas may be laughed or frowned upon. But if you truly feel that your idea is going to help change lives, nothing should stop you from giving it your best shot. Your passion will drive your team to achieve excellence. Never shy away from experimenting.