Rakesh Choudhury and Y. Yogi Raj, Co- Founders, Nesting Ideas

4th Nov 2010
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“Teacher Connect- A global community for Teachers”

Is it enough to just connect those who control and deliver higher education to the students? Would the other half of the equation not be the training of teachers and marketing for stakeholders to fill in knowledge and resource gaps in educational institutes? This is exactly the business idea that Rakesh Choudhury and Y. Yogi Raj, Co- Founders of “Nesting Ideas” have hit upon with www.teacherconnect.in and have set about to fulfill.

Yourstory gleaned more from them on their entrepreneurial journey that has led them to “Nesting Ideas” and the future ahead.

What is the purpose behind TeacherConnect as a business idea?

TeacherConnect is a Nesting Ideas initiative. It is a platform to connect stakeholders of higher education including academic and industry professionals, policy makers and students to connect and collaborate online and through offline seminars, workshops and events on campus for overall enrichment of the community. This is coupled with focused, need driven services like training, recruitment of teachers and marketing for stakeholders to fill in knowledge and resource gap in educational institutes.

What are the goals that TeacherConnect can potentially fulfill?

The initiative is promising in multiple ways by –

Bridging the industry-academic gap by facilitating workshops and events on campus

Bridging the gap between colleges in cities and those in sub-urban/rural areas

Supporting new teachers recruitment drive and facilitate strengthening of existing teachers

From this standpoint, academic institutions, companies and students benefit from our services. Currently we are working with a couple of colleges providing training and supporting with new faulty members recruitment. At the same time, we are getting requests from colleges across India planning to engage with us to connect to industry professionals for guest lectures and workshops.

What is the business model you are using and why?

We have adopted a fee-for-service model. Since we are using an open platform, our wide network of experienced professionals adds on to our strength on daily basis. The platform allows open exchange of ideas and opportunities. At the same time, we add value to our academic partners by streamlining the process and proactively serve to their specific needs utilizing this network and our dedicated teams. Our 360o campus enhancement program covers all needs of a college right from marketing, training of students and teachers, recruitment of new teachers. To accomplish this we have partnered with dynamic companies like Reach360Ads for their proprietary online advertisement technology to augment our service portfolio.

What business expansion plans do you have?

We have conceptualized some applications for our platform planned to be released over a period of time aligned with services we offer. This will allow us automated request captures and scale up the process for multiple accounts. We plan to put in place a project management structures in place that allows our teams to use the platform to serve our partners. From geography standpoint, we are currently focusing metro cities and some tier 2 cities like Lucknow, Bhubaneswar to validate and establish our model. Based on results we generate and learning, we will scale up the business and technology model for pan-India level.

What led you to choose entrepreneurship and come up with TeacherConnect?

We wanted to be entrepreneurs right from our college. In fact, we started a firm earlier which could not sustain for more than 6 months. We learnt a lot from that naïve venture. Jobs today are no more 9-5 in many areas. They are becoming equally challenging and demanding. Therefore, the question which troubled us for long time was not about “boring 9-5 job” but “Do we have an idea that we can live for over a long period of time?”. We discussed everyday on phone innumerous ideas that went through our minds, some were social ideas and others were commercial, but we wanted something a mix of both. It is only when we identified higher education is something we could relate with and we can play a role; we decided that this is the thing we want to do. Question yet unanswered was to build a commercial model. Although most of our ideas were quite different and catchy, we were unclear of a business model. After several discussions with industry leaders and other experts, the TeacherConnect model took shape over several months.

What entrepreneurial challenges have been lessons in disguise?

Funding is a challenge we have been facing. We are trying to maintain a balance between spending time with real customers and making pitches. Also, every disappointing day gives us new ways to look at our plan as in how we can achieve results with lesser investment and smartly. We are thankful to all the challenges thrown to us.

Entrepreneurs are usually filled with lot of energy and dynamism and with amateur entrepreneurs it can lead to undesired results, although correctible. During our early conceptualization time, we overcommitted at certain instances in order to win the current situation, however over a period of time it turned out that we could no longer control the end results to deliver. We thank to our audience at that time who were patient with us. We learnt that one should anticipate and calculate all possibilities before making commitments for things which are not in one’s control.

Why does entrepreneurship score over a regular job for you?

It is important to evaluate pros and cons of decisions we make on everyday basis and finally go with the gut feeling. It is certainly in thoughts quite often that “regular job is secure” and easy on your head; however, at the end of the day, it is the faith in the idea and business that keeps one focused. We get this question in our mind regularly, but at heart we know that this is only because of the current challenges. We try to look at the brighter side where our dreams are shining. We can make a living anytime we want a job, because we are not ashamed of any kind of job. So this leaves us with no fear and hence give our best to the present.

Entrepreneurship is a tough business. What keeps you inspired and motivated?

Faith in what we do. We enjoy everything we do and the way we do it. Many times plans fail, but it feels better to even have failed for your own idea and it teaches something new. We know there is a market and we have right offering for the market. We are always speaking with customers and keep improving on our offerings. This synergy must continue. We are very close to the “reason” for we are in this business and it was well evaluated before we jumped in. Ultimately we believe in ourselves.

What is your 2 year plan for TeacherConnect?

In next two years, we foresee establishing TeacherConnect as emerging face of networking and collaboration on industry-academic opportunities like research, jobs and workshops. At the same time, we aim to build trust with academic partners to meet their training, recruitment and marketing needs.

What should one have prepared before trying their hand at entrepreneurship?

Do not go with a blind idea. Back it with your experience with the problem you are trying to solve and scalability of idea. An idea must not excite you once but it should excite you with a new idea everyday. It is not necessary the idea itself to be novel or innovative, but you can make it novel by applying innovative thinking at every step you take to convert idea into a reality.

One can do anything, invest in good infrastructure, fancy equipments and website and much more from money. But it is more important to see if we really need to do it that way. It is good to bootstrap while prototyping because that is when you need the money most and when you don’t get it, you tend to innovate backed by your fire to prove your guts.

What kind of negativity do Indian entrepreneurs face?

From our experience, society is one of the key challenges for an Indian entrepreneur. First thing people ask you after only few weeks of starting is “how much money are you making?”, be it relatives, friends or friends of friends. Just like in job people are more interested in knowing your package than actual work you do spending 9 hours of day. One can easily be broken with such questions asked by every second person. New ideas and innovation is not accepted in the society in India and that is the major challenge anyone faces.

Yourstory wishes Rakesh Choudhury and Y. Yogi Raj success with establishing TeacherConnect as the face of networking and collaboration on industry-academic opportunities. We hope their entrepreneurial ventures bear rich fruit and wish them Good Fortune. To learn more about their work and connect with the educational scene in India head over to http://teacherconnect.in

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