How this platform is helping students and professionals make the right career decisions
Choosing a career path that combines one’s passion with vocation is a tough task, but with access to the right mentors, the journey becomes significantly easier. This is the focus of Mumbai-based– a one-on-one career advice platform.
Founded by Neeraj Agarwal in 2021, Insciple started out by providing career counselling by industry professionals to teenagers. With time, however, the team began catering to a much wider audience of mid-career professionals, university students and recent graduates looking for career advice in a range of areas, including moving to managerial roles, changing career tracks etc.
“At our core, we work to connect people to industry professionals across fields for one-on-one career advice through video consultation. Though I had envisioned Insciple as a trustable career counselling platform for teenagers, it has now become much larger in its scope, as many mid-career professionals want to either accelerate their careers or change professions. Similarly, university students enrolled in undergraduate programmes are confused about whether to pursue Master’s degrees or to work, and sometimes, they are keen to change their chosen field and need guidance,” explains Neeraj, while speaking to YSWeekender.
An alumnus of the London School of Economics, Neeraj worked for 12 years in two different industries – banking and media. He won the Social Samosa 40 Under 40 award in 2019-2020. However, he knew the edtech space was his calling.
He says, “In the last few years, there has been a lot of focus on e-learning, either helping students prepare for a competitive exam or learn new courses. But there’s a lot to be done to help students find their true passion and make the right career choices. Insciple’s focus is on helping people find their passion and make well-informed career decisions.”
Insciple aims to solve two problems faced by people while making career-related decisions. These are the lack of access to career support in the traditional education system, and a lack of exposure to industry perspectives.
Neeraj points out that many people make career decisions based on advice from family and friends and lose out on valuable career opportunities in the process. By connecting prospective hopefuls to experienced industry professionals for one-on-one career consultation across fields, Insciple offers a direct industry perspective to help students and professionals make well-informed career choices.
The average work experience of a consultant on the Insciple platform is 10 years and each one is an alumnus of reputed universities. As industry experts in their fields, they can dispense advice on the pros and cons of their profession.
Since everyone has unique aspirations and skillsets, Insciple works through one-on-one consultation, allowing industry mentors to assess the aspirant’s skillset and guide them accordingly.
Neeraj Agarwal, Founder, Insciple
How it works
“Insciple was started to make career counselling more accessible. A 30-minute video consultation is priced in the range of Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000, depending upon the profile of the industry expert,” explains Neeraj.
Insciple has career advisors from 10 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Australia, Singapore, and India. These professionals represent more than 40 different fields, many of which are mainstream and quite a few represent alternative professions too.
“In recent times, the policy has emerged as a popular area of interest for people who have signed up for advice on public policy, technology policy, and health policy. Healthcare also attracts people, especially biotechnology, and public health. Younger students often reach out for advice on how to become Instagram influencers or creative entrepreneurs,” he says.
More traditional careers like medicine and finance are always attractive, but hopefuls also ask for advice on alternative careers like motorsport management, technology journalism, sustainability, and social impact management, among others.
Potential aspirants come from big cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Kolkata, as well as from smaller cities such as Vadodara, Aligarh, and Jaipur. Most of the marketing happens on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Neeraj gives the example of a psychology student who enjoyed heavy metal music but knew it would be difficult to sustain a livelihood if that were his primary career choice. He was connected to a renowned music composer for advice, who told him to pursue a Master’s in Sound Engineering, which would enable him to find a job at a music studio while giving him time to work on his passion.
According to reports from the Ministry of Education and the 2019 EY Report on K12 Education and KPMG market report on K12 education, the market size for career assessment and guidance is currently estimated to be over Rs 5,000 crore in India and continuously growing. Hence, Neeraj’s vision is likely to bear fruit.
Insciple began as a bootstrapped business and has seen steady growth since, with over 1,000 minutes of advice having been clocked on the platform.
“We are a very new edtech startup, and the challenges we face are typical of early-stage startups. Even though the edtech field is overly competitive, I believe there is enough and more space for everyone’s boat, given the high demand,” shares Neeraj.
Though career counselling platforms do exist in the market like Mindler and others, Neeraj feels Insciple is distinctive enough to stand on its own. Their promise to connect experts for industry-specific career guidance is their USP.
The popularity of Insciple’s services is evident from the positive reviews the platform has received so far. Riya Gupta, a student at DAV Public School, Shrestha Vihar, Delhi, says,
“I got to ask so many questions at Insciple. The expert was a knowledgeable person, who helped me understand better about my stream and professional picks for the future. I would suggest this platform to others as well.”
Another student, Keshavi Shah, who studies at Delhi Public School, Vadodara particularly liked the idea of a one-on-one consultation because she felt it was more personalised.
Closing the chat, Neeraj highlights two skillsets that he feels are extremely important to do well professionally. The first is the right mentoring and the second is to have good communication and technology skills. He shares,
“People may have subject matter expertise in their fields, but they still don’t excel, because they are not able to communicate or present themselves effectively, and/or they are unable to make use of new automated tools. This is where access to mentors can help.”