The world is increasingly going digital. This brings us closer together and also presents us with opportunities that were previously inaccessible. Learning is one of those big opportunities, as the world’s top universities and educators offer a wide range of courses online. SlideRule, established by Parul Gupta and Gautam Tambay, helps users discover world’s best online courses on any subject. We chat with the founders. An Excerpt from the Interview: What made you start your venture? For the last few years, the world’s best universities and institutions have been opening their gates to online learners by offering courses in every subject imaginable, ushering a revolution in education. Both of us having had firsthand experience with online learning, believed in the potential to make a huge impact on the world through online education, and wanted to be a part of it. We noticed that even though there is lots of great learning content online, it is very scattered and hard to discover. After numerous conversations and soul-searching, we decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge to solve this problem. What has been the key to your business’s success? First, we’re in the right place at the right time. There is tremendous excitement about inexpensive educational alternatives (e.g. Coursera, a free course provider, acquired its first 4 million users faster than Facebook). Second, we focus on understanding the needs of our customers and strive to build a perfect product for them. Finally, we’ve been fortunate to work with a great team, mentors and investors, who are helping us to take our vision forward. What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them? The biggest challenge is building a great team. Our personal and professional networks have come in handy here. Do you have a mentor who guides/advises you on matters of the business? Many of them! We were in Microsoft Ventures’ Accelerator program in Bengaluru, where we came into contact with numerous mentors and fellow entrepreneurs who helped us focus and develop our product at a rapid pace. Besides, we have numerous friends who have built successful startups, and we look to them for constructive criticism. Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations? As an internet company, we are always studying the latest technologies to build our product. But our operations have been immensely helped by Google Hangouts — allowing our geographically distributed team to stay in regular touch. What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion? As I mentioned before, we focus on understanding the needs of our customers. This involves weekly skype/phone calls, where we try to ask how they are using our website and what we can do to improve that experience. This also helps us prioritise our product releases to ensure that most valuable features and services are delivered to users faster. What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? 1. Determination and Resilience – Entrepreneurs will fail more times than they will care to count. The best ones embrace failure as a learning opportunity and forge ahead. 2. Negotiation – Entrepreneurs are always negotiating, whether it is with investors, customers or even employees. You’ve got to be able to turn a no into a yes. 3. Focus – As an entrepreneur, you are pulled in multiple directions and have more things on your to-do list than you can possibly get done. The ability to prioritize and say “no” to things that aren’t important is critical. Visit their Website: www.mysliderule.com Like them on Facebook: SlideRule
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