[TechSparks 2020] Our audacious goal is to compete with Netflix: Unacademy's Gaurav Munjal
Gaurav Munjal is a man of many anecdotes — funny, inspiring, edgy.
At TechSparks 2020, theCo-Founder & CEO recounted the time when he would chase investors in all parts of the world, and just wouldn't take 'no' for an answer.
"I planned my family vacations depending on the city the investor was going to be in. Once I went to Dubai to meet Bhavin Turakhia [now a board member at Unacademy] for 15 minutes after his squash game. I don't even like Dubai," Gaurav told YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma in a virtual fireside chat.
His persistence isn't limited to just face-to-face meetings, of course. Several investors, who've gone on to back Unacademy, which turned unicorn in 2020, have multiple stories about Gaurav's resilience and relentless approach.
"I mailed VSS saying Sachin [Bansal] was investing, and mailed Sachin saying VSS was investing, when none of them had confirmed yet. Sometimes it's okay to be over the edge. But don’t take this story too literally if you're an entrepreneur," Gaurav said cheekily.
He further said, "Somehow rejection doesn’t bother me. Even if someone says no to me 50 times, I will keep trying. Most people go into a shell after they're rejected. I realised long ago that I don’t want to be like that. You've to shamelessly pursue a goal and not worry about what the others are saying."
Unacademy Co-founder & CEO Gaurav Munjal talks to Shradha Sharma at TechSparks 2020
Hyper growth and right mentorship
Unacademy's stellar growth has been a blend of its user-friendly products, quality teachers, convenience, smart acquisitions, and the pandemic-led boost for edtech.
Gaurav revealed that the unicorn's monthly revenues have shot up from Rs 2 crore to Rs 90 crore in the last one-and-a-half years.
"We are the innovation engine for the industry. Be it our content channels or user acquisition strategy or teachers. A lot of people have gone and copied us. We don’t have the best sales engine yet, and we are working towards that," he said.
The 30-year-old founder also underscored the importance of choosing the right mentors and consuming the right content to understand entrepreneurship.
"Mentors are also a form of content. The content you consume shapes your thinking. If you have to play a 100X bigger game, you need to start reading about the best people in the world and you have to chase those people," he explained.
Gaurav's illustrious list of mentors includes former Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal, Sequoia Capital's Shailendra Singh, Udaan's Sujeet Kumar, and so on. "They were 100X better than me at what I do. For one-and-a-half hours of uninterrupted time, I travelled for two days to San Francisco to meet Shailendra in January,' he shared.
Unacademy Co-founders Roman Saini (L), Hemesh Singh, and Gaurav Munjal
Setting 'iconic' goals
Gaurav said he is a firm believer in the concept of "iconic goals" that has helped him personally and also led to the framework of Unacademy.
"I read a quote by Sam Altman [of Y Combinator] that changed my life. It said your next project should be so audacious that everything you have done in your career so far should look like a footnote," he said.
Gaurav explained further,
"Having a really ambitious iconic goal gives you clarity and makes it easier to focus. We did not go after the small monetisation models because we realised that platform play was a much bigger game to play. On Day 5 of our business, we launched a platform selling tests. Suddenly, it started doing two lakhs a day. We shut it down because we didn’t see it becoming a very large business. And we didn’t want it to distract us from our large audacious goals."
So, what is Unacademy's next iconic goal?
"Our current goal is to compete with Netflix," said Gaurav, adding, "Netflix today is bigger than Reliance. It is a $200 billion company. In edtech, the market is big in India and globally. We have a very audacious goal, which is 200X of what we are doing."
TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.