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From An Aspirant To Building Edutap – Story of Deepak Garg

The personal and professional satisfaction that I experienced during my teaching stint coupled with the lacunae that I saw in this business made me choose ed-tech as a business option – Deepak Garg

Congrats on your success in your business segment and making such a wonderful impact in the industry.

Q- WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE THE EDTECH/ EDUCATION SEGMENT AS A BUSINESS/STARTUP OPTION?

Deepak – I completed my B.Tech in mechanical engineering in 2010 and got placed with Maruti Suzuki. After working for 1 year with the company, I resigned and started preparing for civil services.

Over the course of 6 years, I took coaching from Delhi as well as Chandigarh for various civil services exams. It was in 2014 that I applied for the job of civil services mentor at one of the premier institutes in Chandigarh.

The personal and professional satisfaction that I experienced during my teaching stint coupled with the lacunae that I saw in this business made me choose ed-tech as a business option.

I wanted to create an ecosystem where each student (paid or unpaid) felt a sense of safety and security when he/she got in touch with us.

Q- WHAT’S THE CURRENT PATTERN OF THE EDTECH AND HOW IT IS IMPACTING STUDENTS TO PERFORM WELL IN THEIR TARGET EXAMINATIONS?

Deepak – Ed-tech is a big sector. I will talk about the test preparation part of the ed-tech sector here.

There are so many aspirants out there who cannot afford to leave their current cities and move to Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and other so-called ‘coaching hubs’ to pursue the preparation of the exams they want to crack.

Coaching fee is another big factor where we can see that the traditional brick-and-mortar institutes are not able to pass on the benefit of economies of scale to the students.

Then there is the issue of having to choose one institute/one teacher because a student generally cannot afford to take classes from more than 1 teacher/1 institute at the same time.

With online coaching, the fee structure becomes quite affordable, the access is democratized to a very large extent and students benefit from this.

Yes, I do agree that when it comes to 1:1 personal interaction, brick and mortar model has the upper hand.

But we have devised some innovative mechanisms like ‘weekly hot seat sessions’, ‘live workshops’, and ‘strategy cum mentorship calls’ where the aim is to initiate as well as maintain a ‘personal’ touch with the student should he face any issue – course wise, content-wise or even psychological.

Q – WHAT WAS YOUR OVERALL STRATEGY TO MAKING YOUR BRAND SO IMPACTFUL AND PERFORMANCE-ORIENTED AMONG ONLINE AUDIENCES?

Deepak – The right niche selection is really important because as I said in one of my answers above, the ed-tech sector is quite big. Within the ed-tech space, the test prep market is huge. A bootstrapped start-up can find it enticing on the one hand and overwhelming on the other to cater to all the exams that fall under the test prep segment of the ed-tech sector.

2 things

  1. Right niche selection
  2. Keeping the student at the centre of all our activities.

So it becomes essential that one takes it slow. A complete understanding of the various exams, the number of test takers of each exam, their location (tier 1, tier 2, tier 3 cities) and their corresponding paying capacity, and their pain points must be thoroughly understood before finalizing the niche.

Of course, along with the above data, one has to be realistic about what subject/s the founder himself (if that’s the case) can do justice to.

So a niche selection is of paramount importance, at least in the beginning

Then comes the ‘intention’ part.

I have seen many founders for whom the biggest motivator is money, even if it comes at the cost of sacrificing the interests of the clientele (in our case students).

I do not support this ideology one bit.
The customer (in our case students) has to be at the very centre of all the planning and execution.

I always tell my team – “what is good for our students is good for our business, even if it may look like it’s hurting the business in the short term, what is not good for our students is also not good for our business as well, even if it might look as if it is adding to the revenue in the short term”

Q- HOW DID YOU PREPARE THE PRIMARY CONTENT BASE AND PRELIMINARY KNOWLEDGE OF HUMAN RESOURCES TO START YOUR EDUTAP?

Deepak – We are 2 co-founders – myself and Mr Anchit Garg.

So it was the 2 of us who prepared the primary content base.

Not only the content base, but each and every task that needed to be done – from taking calls to replying to emails to writing content for our website to counselling students to uploading content to checking for any errors in the content was also done by the 2 of us in the beginning.

It was after 1 complete year that we hired our first team member to take care of a part of the content.

Q- WHAT WERE THE STARTING CHALLENGES AND HURDLES WHAT YOU HAVE FACED IN INITIAL STAGE OF THE BUSINESS SETUP?

Deepak – Many!

1. Hiring talent
2. Taxation and related compliances
3. Adding more exams and segments
4. Marketing – how do we reach our target audience quicker?

The list of challenges is a long one.

With no prior experience of running a business that too an online one, we learnt everything on the job.

It was a challenging yet enriching experience and still is because learning never stops!

Q- HOW DID UPPSKILL HELP YOU IN YOUR JOURNEY?

Deepak – I learnt a lot in the Uppskill program.

For example, the branding framework that was taught to us helped me in figuring out my brand’s USPs and how they can be used in different marketing collaterals to strengthen our brand.

Similarly, the Google and Meta ads that were taught helped us a lot in generating traffic as well as conversions for our business.

The Uppskill community that I was made a member of is my source of continuous learning and doubt resolution.

Q- CAN YOU TELL SOMETHING TO THE AUDIENCE AND YOUTH VISITER/READERS ABOUT THE USEFULNESS OF EDUTAP?

Deepak – Let me make a diagram to explain this.

I am talking about the officer-level jobs in government here.

At the top is the civil services examination – conducted by UPSC as well as various state public service commissions.

The one conducted by UPSC is for the selection of officers for IAS, IPS, IRS and many other services

The ones conducted by state public service commissions are for the recruitment to posts like SDM, DSP, ETO and so on.

Then we are all familiar with the Banking/SSC/Insurance examinations. IBPS PO, SBI PO, RRB PO, SSC CGLE, Insurance AO/AAO and so on.

Between these 2 tiers come the Regulatory Bodies like RBI, NABARD, SEBI, NHB, IRDAI, EXIM, SIDBI and so on.

These bodies recruit for the post of assistant manager and/or manager through competitive examinations.

We provide online coaching for these exams. These exams are taken by 4 sets of aspirants.

1. Aspirants who tried their best to become a civil servant but could not.

2. Aspirants who are working in the banking/insurance domain and are looking for better career options.
3. Aspirants who are working in the private sector and want to join one of India’s regulatory bodies.
4. Aspirants who are in their graduation/post-graduation and want to join one of India’s regulatory bodies.

We also run a civil services division which caters to the top tier (as per the above diagram) i.e. civil services – UPSC as well as state civil services of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Q- CAN YOU SHARE SOME TIPS FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO ENTER IN EDTECH STARTUP AND WHAT KIND SCOPE YOU ARE SEEING FOR NEW ENTRANTS?

Deepak – There is a lot of scope in every sector, I believe. What may seem to be a red ocean has blue ocean patches all over it.

And as I said earlier, your intention must be to ‘serve’ your clients (students). They must be at the heart of all your decisions.

Q- TO GET SUCCESS HOW LONG DID YOU WORK IN THE INITIAL TIME OF YOUR STARTUP AND CURRENTLY HOW MANY HOURS YOU ARE DEVOTING IN A REGULAR DAY?

Deepak – This is an interesting question. To this day, thanks to the mobile phone, I am working when I am awake.

Although I have a team now for marketing, operations, student support as well as content, I personally always have this urge to stay connected with my students, understand their pain points, and be there for them.

It’s not something that I am required to do, it’s more of the love that I have for the student community that drives me to do this.

I do not get tired of answering emails, calls, or tickets raised by students.

It gives me immense personal and professional satisfaction to know that I could be of help to someone today.

Having said that, the nature of my responsibility has also shifted quite a lot if I compare it with the days when we started EduTap.

I spend a large portion of my time learning, planning and strategizing.

Learning is something that must never stop.

I was listening to one of the talks of Mr Ritesh Agarwal, CEO of Oyo Rooms where he said that the founder is generally the first SME (subject matter expert) of everything in the company!

And I couldn’t agree more. So learning and constant upskilling is at the top of the list for me.

Then comes planning and strategizing. Then come the various meetings that I have with my managers to understand what is going on in their respective domains.

Q- SHARE US ABOUT YOUR EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS AND CAREER PROFILE OF STARTING DAYS OF YOUR CAREER?

Deepak – I completed my B.Tech in mechanical engineering from Thapar University in 2010 and got placed with Maruti Suzuki. I was working with the Service Department in the Regional Office at Ahmedabad.

After working for 1 year with the company, I resigned and started preparing for civil services.

Over the course of 6 years, I took coaching from Delhi as well as Chandigarh for various civil services exams. I appeared for 6 prelims, 4 mains and 2 interviews for civil services.

It was in 2014 that I applied for the job of civil services mentor at one of the premier institutes in Chandigarh.

I taught Economy there to civil services aspirants.

Q- ARE YOU LOOKING TO ENTER ANY NEW STARTUP OR ANY OTHER BUSINESS SEGMENT TO FLY HIGH IN AHEAD DAYS OF YOUR CAREER?

I am working on an idea at the moment. It’s called WIP – What I Practice.
Maybe in the coming editions of this magazine, I can write more about it.

Q- TO WHOM YOU WOULD LIKE TO GIVE CREDIT, WHO INSPIRED YOU TO START AND CONTINUE YOUR PREPARATION UNTIL YOU GET SUCH WONDERFUL SUCCESS?

First and foremost to myself.

Yes! For I have looked at situations as ‘opportunities’.

Never back out of learning new things. Always take more than I can do so I can challenge myself.

Always look at things with optimism.

First and foremost, I want to thank myself for doing this.

My parents, my wife, and my co-founder have always been there for me.

Always.

Q- WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?

Still looking for one!

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