From journalism to entrepreneurship, how Shreyasi Singh is setting new standards with Harappa Education
As a journalist for over a decade, Shreyasi Singh worked across different types of media outlets –news agencies, print, and broadcast. Her stint as editor of Inc, the iconic American magazine on entrepreneurship, gave her what she calls a “PhD in entrepreneurship”.
“It was very interesting to meet so many entrepreneurs, hear their stories and things they have fought for. All the amazing ideas, culture, and productivity that I was seeing made me think that If I were a CEO, I would do this. I think that immersion into entrepreneurship was the beginning of my own journey,” says the Co-founder of Harappa Education.
In 2015, she decided she would not go back to journalism full time, and started working with Pramath Raj Sinha, now her co-founder, on The Vedica Scholars Programme for Women, an 18-month full-time, post-graduate management programme.
After Vedica, she wanted to work on something from the ground up. She started having conversations with Pramath and the idea of Harappa came into being.
They spent six months doing extensive research on online education and understanding the edtech industry. One of the decisions they made was to create a curriculum and not just become a marketplace.
As an edtech entrepreneur, technology plays a major role in Shreyasi’s life and work. She believes it is an immensely powerful tool for professionals to create their personal brand. “I don’t think women professionals need to limit themselves to only networking groups with women, although those are critical and deeply empowering, but must use social media to amplify and expand their professional networks overall. On social media, you have the power to shape your narrative; and my advice to women professionals would be to learn how to do this with consistency and flair. It’s the most cost-effective way of standing out, but it requires skill and discipline,” she adds.
Shreyasi says she cannot imagine running her life and business without WhatsApp. “I value the speed it facilitates, and the easy way to create group-based forums for chat that can be created in a second. I have tried other collaboration tools but the speed and the super-intuitive user interface that one has got so used to makes it difficult to build a habit beyond WhatsApp,” Shreyasi says.
Harappa Education was incorporated in March 2018 and started launching its courses in May 2019. Essentially, Harappa is an online learning institution that offers 25 courses on cognitive, social, and behavioural skills that employers crave at the workplace. The courses are around five hours long, and are self-paced and asynchronous.
Harappa has a 60-member team, at the convergence of the world of work and academics, delivering rich and contextualised content that is tailored to 21st century learners.
It works on a B2B model, with campuses and corporates. It has not launched a B2C model yet. In the campus space, it works with IIT Gandhinagar, Punjab Engineering college, and Lovely Professional University. It also works with 12 corporates, including leading brands across IT, FMCG, and financial services. In January 2020, James Murdoch-led Lupa Systems invested in Harappa in a seed funding round.
“Harappa’s unique curriculum of ‘5 Habits and 25 Skills’ is delivered through an engaging online-first approach. It addresses a core gap in education: the cognitive (how to think, reason, and problem-solve), social (how to communicate, influence, and build relationships), and behavioural (how to grow, act, and lead) — skills that employers crave at the workplace,” Shreyasi says.
Shreyasi believes the “new normal” will require everyone to build different skills and behaviours. “Change will be a big skill that each one of us is going to need and I think that our courses can help,” she adds.
This story is part of a series spotlighting extraordinary, inspiring women from different walks of life for the See Us, Hear Us campaign powered by WhatsApp for International Women’s Day.
You can read more such stories from the month-long campaign here.