Engineer, teacher, entrepreneur: Sandeep Jain of GeeksforGeeks shares his journey

A love for teaching led Sandeep Jain to quit his job and start Noida-based GeeksforGeeks, a content platform for developers. In the latest episode of 100x Entrepreneur podcast, he speaks about his journey and more.
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In 2009, Sandeep Jain started a blog with one intention: to help engineering students prepare for placements.

What started as a blog is today an edtech company with annual revenue of over Rs 1,000 crore and 250-plus team members.

In a conversation with Siddhartha Ahluwalia, Founder and Host of 100x Entrepreneur podcast, Sandeep deep-dives into his journey, from leaving his engineering job to becoming a teacher to 10 million+ registered ‘Geeks’ from across the world through his startup GeeksforGeeks.

Engineering his dreams

Growing up in the city of Firozabad, Sandeep says he had seen really bad quality teaching.

Sandeep, who did his schooling at a municipality school, started teaching while he was at school - he used to teach his elder brother who was weak in academics.

With time, this love for teaching became stronger and stronger. This - along with the poor quality of teaching he was witness to – set him on his mission to provide quality education.

“If we leave a few exceptional teachers, there are very few teachers who are passionate about teaching, who just [joined the field] because they wanted to [teach]. I saw my teachers; they were preparing for jobs in software companies, and they were teaching us.”

Sandeep says he “strongly” felt “like I can help here”. “And I can teach better than many other people who have been teaching me and [help] improve this system.”

He completed a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 2004, and joined M.Tech at IIT Roorkee in 2005.

Following his passion

Sandeep says he always knew that he wanted to be a teacher and realised that he was an average employee at DE Shaw, an investment management firm, as he wasn’t “enjoying it”.

“So, I just decided to leave this software job and went for a teaching job. I did not know how difficult this decision could become for me because I did not discuss it with many people. I just resigned and then told everybody in the family and my friends. Most of them felt like I was being fired from the job,” Sandeep recalls.

But he dove into his passion whole-heartedly, doing a nine-to-five teaching job and working on GeeksforGeeks every night and on weekends.

He initially hired a team of four people, three interns and one full-time employee. He also got top-quality coders to help develop the platform.

One thing at a time

Sandeep’s love for teaching inspired him to create a platform which is used by 22 million developers and aspiring developers from around the world every month.

He has kept it almost free for developers, so that any Tier III or IV developer or aspiring developers can learn to code and improve their prospects.

Explaining what kept him going, Sandeep says, “As a bootstrapped company, we did not have any choice that we could do anything else. Because if you are building a business, it’s very important that you focus on one thing only. When you diversify into multiple things, without much money or resources, your existing business might also be impacted. So for a long, long time, we just built the content business.”

It was only after the content business went into autopilot mode, that he thought of diversifying and doing something around coding. Today, he claims to get good traffic for coding on GeeksForGeeks.

To know more, listen to the podcast here:

03:07: From growing up in Firozabad to growing the love for coding

07:20: Joining DE Shaw & Co after graduation

09:24: 30% Salary cut in his first teaching job v/s being a software engineer

10:00: Starting GeeksforGeeks in 2009

16:03: Hiring the initial team

18:26: Annual revenue growth to Rs 1000 crore+

24:12: Learning the skills and growing in the role of a CEO

30:35: Growing against well-funded competitors

(This story was updated to reflect the current annual revenue of the company.)

Edited by Teja Lele Desai