A serial entrepreneur, Gaurav Goel, the CEO and founder of TopRankers, manages the edtech startup’s brand development, growth strategy, business development, sales strategy, and investor relations. TopRankers, which offers online coaching for tests related to government sector jobs (e.g. bank clerks, teachers, police) has a total market opportunity of over $1 billion USD.
Having validated the business proposition, Gaurav set about strengthening the company’s foothold in the market, and was keen on scaling up at pace. “For that, you need to ask yourself tough questions before someone else does. You probably need to change the leadership style, bring in new tools into the system, and infuse a new thinking paradigm within the teams. But unless you know how to do that, scaling becomes a tough job for a founder.” It was at this juncture that Gaurav got to know about the launch of Stanford Seed Transformation Program.
Launched in India in 2017, Seed Transformation Program supports business leaders in enhancing their business expertise, exchanging ideas, sharing knowledge, and transforming their companies. Once the programme is complete, cohort leaders become members of the Seed Transformation Network, which offers additional resources such as networking opportunities and access to coaches, consultants, and Stanford student interns who work with the companies during the programme period.
“I enrolled because it promised scaling up support, which was distinctive from other programmes. The programme promised the support of peers, coaches, consultants even after the classes conclude. They walk with you throughout the scaling-up journey. And, as a lone founder, I was looking for that kind of support.”
The programme not only helped Gaurav understand and frame his scale up plans but also connected him to renowned Stanford faculty members and CEOs and founders of leading businesses. “Today, irrespective of the scale and nature of the challenge or opportunity, I can have discussions with them at length and ease. I must also add that the in-company workshops and labs are wonderful initiatives because it helps bring the much needed cognitive re-engineering within your startup.”
Sharad Lunia, founder of release MyAd, a leading online ad platform that helps local businesses and individuals successfully advertise across traditional media channels such as newspapers, radio, cinema, etc., agrees on the effectiveness of the in-company workshops organised by Seed Transformation Program. “For us at releaseMyAd, the in-company workshops have been the glue that binds senior management together, aligns us towards clear objectives, and sets the company up for exponential growth.” With an ideal blend of education with practical application, “The entire programme continues to be truly transformational for us,” vouches Sharad. From introducing an organised, methodical way of thinking to embedding a positive culture that accelerates change, the programme has helped the startup crystallise the company’s mission, values, and clearly think through their value proposition. “We now continue to deep dive into the nuts and bolts of each of our departments and establish key improvement opportunities necessary to aid our growth.”
Seed Transformation Program has been built on the principle that business is one of the most powerful engines of change to move developing economies to greater prosperity.
One of the primary aims of this Stanford Graduate School of Business-led initiative is to help established business leaders grow and scale their businesses, create jobs, and lead their regions to greater prosperity. Initially launched in Africa, the programme's impact in the region has been widespread: 62 percent of participants have increased their revenue and created new jobs following completion of the programme, 58 percent of participants now do business with one another, and over $25 million USD in capital has been raised.
Ananya Chandra, Business Head-SHEROES, an online community platform that provides women with growth options such as upskilling, mentorship, finding work opportunities, entrepreneurship, networking, professional/personal counselling, community conversations, and much more, says, “What struck an instant chord was that the Seed Transformation program shares our conviction of transforming lives. By enrolling for the programme we had the opportunity to build our unique transformation plan under the guidance of world-class faculty and Seed India’s management team. In just a few months, by amplifying our key strengths and identifying organisational weaknesses, we have scaled our membership base to two million+ members.”
Specifically designed for established business leaders, founders, and senior leaders of for-profit companies from agriculture to ICT, Seed Transformation Program helps them capitalise on what they’ve already created and take it to the next level. In addition, by using a combination of Stanford’s characteristic hands-on teaching methodologies and collaborative approaches to learning, the programme helps these high-potential business leaders acquire business skills to achieve impact, results, and growth.
The year-long programme mandates commitment and regular attendance and participation from the cohort. The programme consists of four ‘Immersion Weeks’ spread across the programme period, which are essentially intensive class sessions in which participants receive business and leadership training from renowned Stanford faculty and other leaders. During this duration Seed facilitators also conduct workshops and leadership labs, discuss business problems, and assist the founders in finding solutions. Facilitators visit each CEO’s/founder’s company and conduct workshops for the management teams to co-learn, share, and apply the learnings to develop a companywide transformation plan that can help grow and scale the company. The leadership labs are typically off-site, half-day meetings with fellow company leaders from the programme, aimed at developing industry connects, knowledge, and healthy discussions.
Radhika Choudary, cofounder, Freyr Energy, a full-service solar solutions provider, says that the programme has helped the startup get into the scaling and growth phase with a lot more ease and focus. With an array of products ranging from rooftop systems and petrol pumps to solar water pumps and micro grids, a key challenge for the team was to understand what their business growth drivers were. “We had an invigorating discussion on zeroing down on our company’s mission statement along with understanding our customer segments, market position, and our value proposition. Applying the Business Model Canvas, we were able to get a sense of our entire business offering.” She adds, “The learning from the programme has helped us optimise our value chain, improve accounts receivable, and effectively maintain inventory to minimise project cycle time. A summation of such changes have helped the organisation look at business growth in a more organised and sustainable manner.”
If you are a CEO/founder in an India-based business with an annual revenue between $150,000 USD and $15 million USD and are looking to scale and grow, here’s a quick takeaway why you must participate in the Stanford Seed Transformation Program:
*To learn more about the programme, view this short film. Also, learn more from programme participants through the short film series, Profiles of Purpose. Additional details are available at Stanford Seed.