Sonali Gupta: CTO and innovator at ADD-on-Gyan Educational Services
Every year oodles of business plans are received at as many B-plan competitions, but at that end of the day not many make to the real world (where the real action happens). With an intention to make a mark in the education space in India, ADD-on-Gyan education services was launched in 2011. And one person who has been continuing to impress everyone in the team is Sonali Gupta.
Sonali is a 4th year Computer Science graduate studying in Manipal Institute of Technology; she is also the co-founder and the chief technology officer at Gyan Labs, a multiple award-winning startup, bridging the gap between the theoretical lessons in schools and real-life learning.
Sonali played a key role in the starting days of Gyan Labs. She adds here, “I was probably in my second semester when I first learned of Gyan Labs and ever since I have stayed here.”
“My parents had an illusion that I was a quiet and simple girl, but it was my friends who got to see the real me!” In our discussion, she adds that, even in schools, she was adamant in taking up challenges and was quite proficient in events other than normal studies. She was introduced to computers at an early age in grade six, and learned BASIC and HTML for she cherished the new technologies.
At a startup you don’t really handle only one particular department; instead, you have to wear multiple hats. Sonali plays the same role at Gyan Labs which of course is not a new thing for her. She was given multiple opportunities across different fields in school from being a correspondent at school newspaper to being a Prefect (2005) and House captain (2008).
College and experience at Gyan Labs
Sonali entered college in 2010 taking up CS as her undergraduate course. Entering college she didn’t have much expectation or dreams of a perfect career, she shares. “Initially, I didn’t have a dream of joining a company or to start one, but I always wanted to do things as per my wish. I was not keen on doing things or job (for that matter) which I don’t like.”
When Sonali joined Gyan Labs in her very first year, she was not just another intern looking to expand her curriculum vitae. She stayed there for long, soon she was seen handling every matter relating to Gyan Labs. In the midst of our discussion, she added, “Apart from the technology part, I was also responsible in handling all the interns, teaching or interacting with the kids. I really enjoyed a lot.”
This being said, working at a startup is never an easy job to handle. On being asked how she managed to juggle between the former with her studies, she remarks, “Attending classes is compulsory for us at Manipal, so I had no choices there. For Gyan Labs, it was never a question of fatigue, I really enjoyed working there. If I am not in college then you would probably find me in Gyan Labs office.”
So what do her teammates think of her? I got a couple of comments from the other co-founders. Abhash Kumar (co-founder) shares, "She probably works more than us, may be 18 hours every day." Priyadeep (co-founder) says, “Sonali works more than an average salaried person.”