Language is something that sets us apart from other animals. Had humans never been gifted with the ability to communicate using a structured set of ordered sounds and noises, we might still be living a primitive existence, a basic hunter-gatherer lifestyle consisting of days of running after beasts which are physically superior to us humans.
Would we ever be able to progress as a species if we were never able to communicate with each other in an organised, developed way? Probably not. India is a land where we speak almost 22 official languages. Many people always tend or dream to learn more than one language.
There are many reasons you should learn more than one language:
Career advancement: Learning multiple languages enables you to work/do business in multiple countries, which will make you valuable to employers.
Travelling: Knowing the language of the region you are travelling in, helps you in having a more immersive experience.
Working out your brain: Learning a new language effectively exercises your brain, and makes you think in ways you probably haven’t thought before. This establishes new chemical pathways in your brain.
Medical benefits: Studies show that knowing more than one language can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia by a few years.
Today we are presenting an exclusive interview of a young and innovative startup Open Pathshala is based in Mumbai, India.
This startup is offering online classes to train its users who are interested to learn other regional languages of India that too from the comfort of their home.
Lets see what the founders of this venture has to speak about their journey.
1.What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
2.Who is your target Audience/clients?
3.Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
4.What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
5.Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it came to an existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
I always wanted to build something that could make people’s life simple, that could help them solve their problem. Initially, Open Pathshala was positioned as a platform for school students to watch video tutorials and understand their school subjects better. We decided to start with Sanskrit as we found there were hardly any resources available for it and also, that would make us stand out with other companies. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out for us. Instead of school students, we were getting a lot of hobbyist learners who were interested in our services. We re-positioned this platform into a hobbyist language learning platform as we could see a demand from that side. Once the video tutorials were in place, we started offering Live Classes, where a student could learn from a personal tutor at flexible times. As the demand grew, we launched group classes and then Indian cultural courses like Introduction to Vedas, Ayurveda, and philosophical courses like Bhagavad Gita.
7.How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us some thing about your co-founder/s
8.How did you hire your first team members? What skills Do you want in your employees/team?
The first team members were friends and common friends! First of all, our visions should align. If even they believe that we need to work on the problem which we are solving, then that is the most important aspect. Skills are important but they come later. If someone believes in an idea, he/she will spend considerable time to upgrade their skills to contribute to the solution of the problem.
When we decided to start with Sanskrit language, a friend connected me to Sanhita Joshi, who is brilliant at Sanskrit language. With her help, we developed a video course and later on added bunch of other Sanskrit tutors to the platform who all teach online. She currently handles the academics part of the venture.
9.What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
10.Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
11.What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
12.Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
13.What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
14.What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
Changing the pivot of the idea was the challenging part. Though it turned out to be a great decision until now. Our product was made for school students and it wasn’t working. Things didn’t work even after visiting dozens of schools and classes. After talking to some of our current students, who were hobbyist learners, we decided to start Skype based one to one classes and focusing entirely on the hobbyist language learning market. Even that was challenging in the beginning. But things started to work well once we polished that idea along the way.
16.What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
As a startup founder, there is no thing such as non-work time! If I find some free time, I spend it on doing photography, or playing the guitar. I also hit the gym regularly to remain fit.
18.Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
19.What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
The major difference is the ability to take risk and be self driven. And not just that, also staying firm even if things don’t look good.
21.How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
22.Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
23.Tell us something about your education & family background.
24.What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains.
25. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
26. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Successful? Not yet. Success is more like a process than a destination. The more you improve more successful you become. I would measure success by the number of people whose problems we have solved, whose life we have made simpler and whom we helped grow.