We are publishing an interview of Mr. Vedant Khandelwal, Co-founder of Innovations of MyLivPro.
Please tell us about the founders.
We are two cofounders (Vedant & Pallavi). We both have complementary skill-sets. That’s the best part. Co-founders should always have complementary skill-sets so that there is no gap in our services.
Other than this, we both are like minded and equally passionate for bringing a positive change in education system of India. We have known each other from last 6 years. We were classmates in our Engineering college and best friends from the till now.
I always had the urge to bring some change in education system because I have faced problem and I don’t want other students to face the same.
Here’s the story
I belong to Mirzapur, a small town near Varanasi(hometown of Pallavi). In small towns most of the parents are not much educated and thus they don’t have much idea about the academic scope outside. Same goes with the teachers in schools, they are educated but they don’t have much idea about different updated academic courses and their scope. So, parents and teachers want that the child should either become engineer or doctor and this is not their fault, what they wish for is the best they know about.
So, students in such areas face problem in getting proper mentoring and lead to wrong academic path. I wanted to improve this! I wanted to spread awareness and knowledge in such areas among students, teachers and parents!
I started to work on this idea and also won 2nd prize for this in Google Startup Weekend Trichy.
But this required too much capital and manpower which i didn’t had. So, after trying hard for a year I thought to start small towards education as I don’t have a good financial support.
During my MBA, I found a gap between academic syllabus of classroom and requirements at industries and companies. This was something BIG!
I thought to take this as a challenge and improve it along with my MBA. I had a talk with Pallavi as she also shared the common passion. She handled her stuff and I handled mine and we started working for it and just in two months, we found our first custmer.
So, we both have few common skill-sets such as open mindedness, flexibility, common goals and we motivate and encourage each other. These things are very necessary as we don’t get any salary, sometimes for many days we don’t find any customer and sometimes everything just stops, but we have to work together and work hard and smart and keep on moving because we know we are doing something good!
We don’t have any roles as we both handle things equally.
Talking about expertise, Pallavi has more knowledge in digital marketing and content writing. She knows what customers want to read and what will help them out.
I have more knowledge of business process and customer relation management. I have an urge to learn and do.
Give us a brief background of what founders were doing before starting the venture.
We both did BTech(ECE) from BBDNITM, Lucknow. Currently I am a final year MBA student at DoMS, NIT Trichy and Pallavi is first year MBA student at IM, BHU.
List all the names of the core team members, along with their skill-sets, specific domain expertise & designated roles. How do you see them evolving over time?
We have a total of 3 people in our team and rest of the work is done by students who want to work for us as an intern.
I have already told you about me and Pallavi. Third member is Sethu Vinayagam Udhayasekar. He is a BTech student at NIT Trichy and a very passionate team member. He has a great interest and knowledge in App designing and Backend processes. He has designed MyLivPro App.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
The problem is to fill the gap! The gap is between syllabus of MBA students and the skills and expertise required by the companies during placements. We thought to build a bridge and cover this gap. This led to the idea of creating MyLivPro. MyLivPro got its name from “My Live Project”. Initially i thought to provide only live projects but after market research I came to know that there is a need of updated Case Studies and virtual internships too. These three things all together add skills and logical thinking in MBA students.
Other than this we are always available on our Facebook page. Many students just message us and ask for help regarding their academic problems and we provide free counselling to them!
What challenges did you face when you were starting out?
Many challenges; but when you have the passion to do something, you love challenges because you know that moving ahead a challenge will take you one step closer to your goal.
1. Work load on both of us: Starting up needs a lot of hard work and a lot of time investment. So we used to do our college studies and assignments in the day time and work for this during night hours. 3-4 hours of sleep for 2-3 months.
I still sometimes get queries from students after midnight and I solve their issues. Students love these things because we are always available for them and we provide a very customer friendly environment because we are students too!
2. Capital Investment and Cost Cutting: We required initial investment and we didn’t wanted to ask our families for huge amounts. So, we had to do cost cutting, a lot of cost cutting!
None of us know programming, so I researched and made website on my own using Wix Editor. Except App designing, all of the work is done by both of us. As MyLivPro App was our main user engagement point, we needed it to be good, user friendly and simple. So, i searched a bit around me and found Sethu. He has worked a lot and kept on redesigning the app until it became best for our customers.
3. The Supply Chain: Our supplier are startups which have live projects for MBA students such as market research, competitor analysis, digital marketing, financial modelling, etc. To find suppliers is a big problem when you can’t move out due to college attendance issues! So, all what works for us is internet. We have all our suppliers and customers only via internet, specially Facebook.
How did you get the initial capital? What returns does it have? Tell us about the investors (if any).
After a lot of cost cutting, our budget came down to a very small amount. I asked my family members and they gave us the amount on a condition that we have to keep on working on our idea and return the initial investment at the end of first year. This gives a lot of motivation!
Please tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
What we provide is a platform where students get to learn and gain skills through live projects, case studies and virtual internships.
We started with Live Projects but then according to the response of our market research we added case studies and virtual internships. All these things have a common thing and you learn a lot just by sitting in your own hostel room.
Reviews on our Facebook page makes us happy because our customers are happy!
What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have?
I thought reaching to MBA students will be a bit easy as their are more than 2lacs MBA students each year. But now, we came to know that without getting out its a bit tough but we are working on that. We have a few plans which will show us the output in next two months.
What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
We are the only startup to have an app for this service. We are user friendly, we think as our customers and we provide our services either Free or at very low price.
What is the strength of the startup and the scale of operations? Who do You Perceive as Your Competition?
Our strength is our way of treating our customer. We talk to our customers as friends and we are always available for them. If somebody doesn’t needs our service but only guidance, we happily provide them guidance. This makes them happy. We do this because our passion was not to have a business but to improve Education system!
All the startups and companies in similar areas are our competitors but we have best customer service.
What is the revenue model? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
- Guidance and ebooks are free.
- Our service for Virtual Internship is free.
- Case Studies run on Freemium revenue model and Live projects are Premium.
This all depends upon the level of skill and information we exchange with students.
Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them?
We are currently targeting only on MBA students. We also have plan to expand to Engineering students too. Our service is making MBA students capable of applying management theories in practical situations and they are taking a step closer towards employability.
How did you get your first customer?
Our first customer was an IIM Sambalpur student. He saw our posts on MyLivPro Facebook page. We started our work in September, 2016 and we expected our launch to be in January, 2017 but we got our first customer in November, 2016 itself and so we started our operation at that very moment and our app is still in testing phase.
What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Yes!! We have plans to expand this. We will include students profiles and we will take online exams, by which we will give star ratings to students. Startups and Corporates can shortlist students from our website or app seeing the ratings for internships and full time placements.
Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? What is the current turnover? (From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/enquiries and enrollment). Please explain in details:
As I told you we are operating but still in testing phase. We haven’t reached colleges and startups directly. Whatever leads we are getting is via Facebook page or our website www.mylivpro.com. Talking about revenue, we have earned 20%-30% of the initial investment in the first three months. Total number of visits on our website has crossed 2k mark without any paid advertisement.
- We have 50+ registered students who have subscribed to our website.
- We have 10+ students who are currently our paid customers for Live Projects.
- We have 900+ followers on our Facebook page.
What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
In the next six months, we want our MyLivPro App to reach at least half of the MBA colleges in all over India and in one year, 90% MBA College students should be aware of our service.
What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Here are few things which I would like to convey, specially to the entrepreneurs who are studying and want to bring change:
- Don’t start BIG until you have a good financial backup. If you have the passion but things around are not favorable, don’t stop but start SMALL.
- Have confidence in yourself and keep in mind that people will demotivate you. Just keep working on your plan, hard work pays off! Don’t just work hard, work smart!
- Love your idea but be ready to alter it. Don’t be too much attached to your initial idea. Do a lot of market research, this is the key to learn from your your customer about what he actually needs. Accordingly, alter your idea.
- If you are a student who has to support his/her family, please prepare a backup first and then move towards your startup dream.
All the best! If you need any help or guidance just leave a mail at email@example.com.