Drive into the New Year with Vamsi Krishna: Vedantu co-founder ‘curious’ about future of online education

Drive into the New Year is a YourStory series featuring leaders as they rev into 2021. The series offers you a view into how Indian changemakers plan to navigate the road ahead. Today, we have Vamsi Krishna, Co-founder and CEO of Vedantu, in the driver's seat.
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2020 was a breakthrough year for edtech players. With schools shut down for most of the year, students turned to digital screens to continue their education. 

 For Bengaluru-based edtech startup Vedantu, “2020 was transformative in multiple ways”, says Co-founder and CEO Vamsi Krishna in a conversation with YS Weekender for the series Drive into the New Year

Earlier this year, Vedantu recorded more than 1,50,000 students study real time on its live online learning platform. Founded in 2011 by Vamsi, Pulkit Jain and Anand Prakash, Vedantu recorded 220 percent growth during the nationwide lockdown. 

 

Thus, 2020 was a “big boon” for the edtech startup, Vamsi says.

Backed by marquee investors, including Accel, Tiger Global Management, Trifecta Capital Advisors, WestBridge Capital, and Omidyar Network, among others, Vedantu recorded 1.5 million students attending its live classes every month. 

Despite the sudden surge, Co-founder Vamsi says, “I am curious to see how behaviours of parents and students settle, in terms of online learning, once the pandemic is over and we have a vaccine.” 

Vedantu CEO and Co-founder Vamsi Krishna

2020 in a rearview mirror

From a professional point of view, “dealing with scale and mobilising the workforce remotely while recording unprecedented scale” was a challenge for Vedantu, Vamsi tells YS Weekender

 

When the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 was announced, Vedantu had 2,500 sales employees spread across 25 cities, going from door-to-door, doing face-sales. Over only two days, Vedantu has to move the entire sales team online without compromising the efficiency. This, Vamsi considers, was a moment of pride for both Vedantu, and him.

Personally, the greatest challenge of 2020 was “being in one location and managing everything remotely”, Vamsi says. However, it taught him a lesson for life -- that face-to-face meetings are over-indexed

Driving into 2021 

The absence of travel and some time to spare made Vamsi turn to badminton and give the sport a shot, in the last quarter of 2020.

With mental health, physical health, and enhancing learning (in this order) topping Vamsi’s priority list, he plans to continue focusing on badminton. 

Usually Vamsi allots 30 to 45 minutes of his day to focus on mindful breathing. “For enhanced learning, I would like to spend more time learning and teaching,” he adds. 

 

The co-founder does not believe in resolutions and says, “The year-end is not a time to make resolutions; it should be a continuous learning process.” 

 

Professionally, Vamsi’s priority for 2021 is what is “already laid out in Vedantu’s annual operating plan”, he jokes. At a generic level, Vamsi plans to make Vedantu the most loved edtech brand, continue to focus on its core value of innovation, and create a stronger culture of teaching and learning, inside the company. 

 “Give value, and everything else is a consequence. Strive to deliver value,” he adds.

Illustration courtesy: Daisy Mahadevan

Lessons to live by

After being an entrepreneur for almost 15 years, Vamsi has a couple of ideas to share with aspiring entrepreneurs. 

“Entrepreneurship is hard. The reason for which you are doing this needs to be really strong; do not enter startups or entrepreneurship with the herd mentality. Or to make big money- it is the worst way to make money; there are far better ways,” he says. 

Additionally, the co-founder advises entrepreneurs just starting out to be more internally focused. “There is a lot of noise and distraction outside to be focused. Build for your user or customer and things will align. Optimise designs for the user,” he adds. 

Vamsi advises using the calendar effectively to manage time better, and block time out even for mundane tasks like spending time with the family and for meals. 

Vamsi Krishna, Co-founder and CEO of Vedantu

“The single best advice is to take out 30 to 45 minutes of time first thing in the morning to plan your day out,” he adds. 

Vamsi lives by the following quotes: 

  • “Why do we fall, Sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” - from Batman 
  • “The hardest choices require the strongest wills.” - from Avengers Endgame (also Vamsi’s favourite movie series) 
  • “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly” - by Buckminster Fuller (Vamsi usually tells his students this)

 

Talking about his expectations from 2021, Vamsi says, “I would love to see remote and online learning becoming a standard way of doing things, and remote working becoming an established norm.”

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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