With a network of 20,000 tutors, trainers and institutes, one can search tutors/trainers with specific requirement of subjects, location, class, age, years of experience, fees and even gender. What’s more!!! Thinkvidya.com provides this as a completely free service to parents and students. Thinkvidya.com has presence in 16 cities with absolute leadership in Bangalore and fast growing network in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. What has been the key to your business’s success? We are in the business of helping people find the right learning options around their locality. It requires us to do a really good job in matching student/parents requirement with those who can serve those requirements. Our large network of Tutors/Trainers combined with our sophisticated matching algorithm allows us to fulfil our member’s requirements. We are also very particular about our prompt and friendly customer service as well as fair pricing plans that encourage more and more tutors/trainers to join us. What have been your major challenges? When you create a network of providers (supply) and seekers (demand), it becomes important to keep the perfect balance in the system. Keeping the right balance in every category and city we go in requires constant fine tuning and improvements. With every passing month we understand the market better and are in the position to make right decisions. Like every other startup, we also had to go through the challenge of people trusting a new brand. Education is an important decision for every parent and they primarily rely only on references from a trusted source. Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations? We, in general, use a lot of technology-enabled tools to automate our operational tasks. We use a rapid application development technology called Groovy and Grails that makes it really fast to develop new features both for the end-user interface and our back-end operations. We have also benefited by using the txtWeb platform from Intuit. We are currently using it to inform tutors of any requirements from prospective students. Tutors can contact a new student using the txtWeb platform. We plan to utilize this platform even further in the future. What are your business expansion strategies? Which tech-tools do you think can help you in achieving your expansion goals? According to a survey report, about 2 crore students use some form of tuition outside the classroom every year in India. On the other side, there are close to 65 lakhs full time teachers in schools & colleges and another 50 lakh individuals who can be termed as potential teachers for tution classes. Hence, this is a huge market and presents a big business opportunity. If we also include learning in non-academic field, the numbers are quite big. Our vision is to reach out to all those Individuals and SMB institutes who form this market. In next three years, we plan to reach out to students & teachers in all cities with population of 15L+ and focus primarily on all academic and few non-academic categories (ex. yoga and, languages). We would be using several offline and online promotional activities to grow our market share in these cities. This would include online marketing, partnerships with online & offline companies and directly reaching out to educational institutes. We also plan to use social media platform like Facebook, Twitter and Linked in to our advantage to help us spread the ‘word-of-mouth’. We have built an in-house email management system that helps us stay connected with acquired members. Our platform also leverages social sharing tools allowing users to share information on ThinkVidya with their network.
What has been your strategy to ensure Customer Satisfaction? We believe that there can not be any room for complacency when it comes to customer-service specially if you are in the business of helping people. Be it learning-providers or learning-seekers, our members wouldn’t be satisfied if we were not offering them the exact help they need promptly and easily. We constantly talk to our members to find out what is working for them and what is not. We make incremental improvements based on their feedback. Even for building new features or offering, we depend on the feedback that comes from our members. What steps do you take to increase customer base? We truly believe that most of our incremental members come from word-of-mouth publicity and references from our existing members. Hence we make quality customer service our top priority. In addition, we use a number of online and offline marketing channels to reach out to a wider audience. The fact that our member base has grown over 25% M-o-M over the last 6 months without increasing our marketing budget spend, endorses our strategy. What was the motive behind starting your business? Rakesh Kalra: Since 1999, I worked with 3 different technology-driven start-ups in the US. This helped me understand the dynamics and challenges of a start-up. Besides, I always had the passion to start a business venture on my own. Being passionate about education and learning, I saw the clear need for a service like ThinkVidya.com in India. Santosh Kevlani: Hailing from a business family, starting something on my own was always in my mind since my college days. Despite a couple of insignificant attempts which didn’t survive too long, I didn’t give up. A lot of motivation also came from watching my wife set up her business over the years. Finally, what are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Rakesh Kalra: Passion, Leadership, Analytical Skills. Santosh Kevlani: Passion, Perseverance and Openness. While Rakesh Kalra is a B.E. in Mechanial Engineering from PEC, Chandigarh and MS in Computer Science from Boston University, Santosh Kevlani is a B.Tech in Electronics & Telecom Engineering from PCE, Nagpur and an MBA in general management from IIT Bombay. Also, while Rakesh is the techie with strong business acumen and experience in building software products and services, Santosh brings with him rich Industry experience in the online space — Online marketing, analytics, advertising, content, operations, SEO and SMO. Both, therefore, bring to ThinkVidya.com separate skill-sets which blend seamlessly in the regular day-to-day operations and in their expansion needs. Website: http://www.thinkvidya.com