Interview with Mr. Vamsi Krishna
Vamsi Krishna completed his B.Tech from IIT Bombay in the year 2005. He then co- founded Lakshya. After being associated with Lakshya for more than eight years, Vamsi teamed up with Saurabh Saxena and Pulkit Jain (both Chemical Engineers from IIT Roorkee) to start their company Vedantu in the year 2006.
Vamsi is known for team's source of inspiration, importance of funds for any startup, the EdTech domain, various challenges the team had to face and work life balance. Vamsi’s sole mission is to create a world of learning which is ‘Personalized & Democratized’.
At Lakshya, in their role as teachers, Vamsi taught and interacted with more than 10,000 students. Lakshya was acquired by a listed company, MTEducare in 2012. Vedantu is a live online tutoring platform which uses technology to bring together teachers and students to enable live learning between them. Vedantu currently provides live online tutoring sessions for students from grade 6 to 12. Offerings range from Monthly Tuitions,
Would you like to brief us about how Vedantu helps students?
Vedantu is a Live Online tutoring platform which aims to personalize and democratize learning. Our primary focus is from grades 6th to 12th in CBSE & ICSE curriculums. On Vedantu, a student can select from a huge pool of quality teachers, who provide LIVE teaching to students in an interactive manner using Vedantu’s proprietary Whiteboard, Audio and Video (WAVE) technology. The WAVE technology makes online learning fun and hassle free and enables teaching sessions even at a low bandwidth. Our sole mission is to create a world of learning which ‘Personalized & Democratized’. Personalized in terms of better experience than groups and classes, and democratized in choice-in terms of teacher, time, schedule and most importantly level of education.
What became your ultimate inspiration to work and contribute for education sector?
Education was not able to attract the best of the society into teaching. So we made it one of our missions to ‘Glorify the profession of Teaching’, so that the best comes back into this profession. Also, there was a marked difference in the quality of teachers and when we analyzed we could classify it in 2 types – those who were teachers by choice and those who were not. So we made this as our motto to induct and create a pool of high quality teachers/mentors who really loved what they were doing, who were 'Teachers by Choice'.
Hence, the four of us – Vamsi Krishna, Saurabh Saxena, Pulkit Jain and Anand Prakash – took the plunge and started our first venture in education, Lakshya, right after our IIT’s (we worked for 6 months and then quit) in 2006. We used to teach students and started from a small place called Barnala in rural Punjab. Since then we have been into the education sector trying to create a positive impact. All of us share a deep passion for imparting quality education to students; together we have taught and mentored more than 10,000 students and trained more than 200 teachers in our previous education venture. Today, Vedantu has grown tremendously with more than 350 teachers and 11,000 students on its platform.
You have worked both as an employee (L&T) and an employer (Vedantu and Lakshya). Which one of the two gave you more satisfaction in terms of work and why?
To me, educating students and making a positive impact in their lives gives me the utmost satisfaction than being an employee or an employer.
The fact that you have done and said something which is going to transform the life of a child forever gives you the most peaceful sleep at night. I believe it’s not just about the subject matter which a teacher teaches but the values he instils in a child during the process of teaching that makes him a great teacher and the profession so gratifying. We all remember our favorite teacher not just because of the subject but for the fact that there was something inspiring which about him/her.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as a teacher. Although I was very young when I started teaching (was 23 when I started) but it taught me so many things and filled my life with so much of positivity. I am really proud of all my students and am confident that no matter what they do, they will be happy and hence successful in their lives.
According to you, how Vedantu is different from any other Edtech?
Vedantu`s key differentiator is our marketplace of teachers model. While accessing Vedantu, a student/parent can browse through a list of teachers based on ratings/reviews, communicate with them (chat/talk) and accordingly choose a teacher and learn LIVE online from him. No other platform in Indian gives this end to end integrated experience.
Our aim is to address the basic problem of generalization and one-size-fits-all prevalent in the education sector today. We believe it is not effective and should change. Vedantu is conceptualized to bring Personalization back into education. We imagine a world where a student is at the centre of learning again, where a teacher will teach according to a student’s need, pace and level and where learning graduates from 1-to-Few to 1-to-1.
Some of our other key differentiators are –
• Flexibility: Online platform provides flexibility of time, location, duration and pace of study
• Safety and Security
• Saves Time
• Cutting edge technology: Vedantu is a technology company at the core. The revolutionary WAVE technology makes learning in even very low or fluctuating bandwidth possible
• Academic system and processes: The Academic research and Innovation Team, love to be called A.I.R. spend hours and hours creating and curating most relevant content for the learners. Teachers on Vedantu provide regular tests and assignments to the students and keep parents in loop on the progress of the child
How difficult was it for you to work on another idea while balancing social life?
I am fortunate enough to have my three best friends as co-founders in both my startups. So in a way our business life and social life is intertwined. We four enjoy a very healthy balance among ourselves as we work. Also since we four friends have been together for more than 15 years now, we share a great chemistry which never makes you feel alone in the journey on Entrepreneurship. Apart from close friends and family, I don't have a very active social life, I have a close set of friends and I like to spend time with them.
Apart from spending time with my family and friends, I do like to spend some personal time either reading/doing some online course. I like photography and in sports you can find me playing Poker and badminton, so whatever time I can get you will find me indulged in some of the above.
Was it challenging to gather the initial funds to setup Lakshya and then Vedantu?
Raising Funding for Lakshya was pretty challenging. We were hardly 22 years old when we started Lakshya and we decided not to take any money from our family. Cumulatively we just had less than 1 Lakh of savings between us. We were turned down by every bank we visited.
Our second round of money and the much needed encouragement came from our previous employer, Mr. Ranjinder Gupta, MD, Trident Group (Saurabh and Anand were working here). He provided us an investment of Rs 5 lacs (interest free) for the duration of one year. Our passion and confidence in our venture proved crucial in getting us the required money.
For Vedantu it was relatively easy. Our previous background and success helped us here. We were able to raise $5M within just 6 months of our launch. Probably the fastest for anyone in Indian Ed-Tech space or in Indian startup ecosystem for that matter. The reason for this are –
• We have a great team
• We have an awesome product
• The market potential is huge
• Our marketplace of teachers’ model is highly scalable and we have the first mover advantage to be category leaders.
Apart from your efforts, what would you suggest the education system in India to bring reformation into it?
In the past few years, Indian classrooms have witnessed a surge in technology adoption – with smart classrooms, hardware and software additions, more computer labs, etc. Moreover, the government is promoting innovation in schools and pushing for technology adoption. The overall education sector is witnessing a transformation with several ed-tech players garnering the attention of schools, parents and teachers alike to provide high quality learning to students although this may not be adequate, India is the third largest online education market in the world which is estimated to grow at a tremendous CAGR of approximately 19% during 2016-2020. This presents a huge opportunity to every entity – government, schools and higher education institutes and private players to enhance both quality and access to education.
According to you, how should students master their area of interest?
According to me, interest and/or motivation are the key to master any new thing. Either a student generates a huge interest for a topic/subject, or he gets motivated by something direct or indirect output, which happens by him mastering the subject. In my opinion, both can be equally powerful. So the role of a great teacher is to understand either/both of these aspects and use it to get the child going.
Elaborating, you may genuinely get interested in solving physics problems, or some teacher taught you in such a way which really kindles that interest in you. Or a teacher motivates you by telling that mastery of Maths get really help you enter into an international college, which gets your attention and it is that goal which pushes you to master the subject. Both can work powerfully if used well.
Do you agree that creativity can enhance efficiency?
Creativity can definitely enhance efficiency but having said that, it may not be the only goal of creative pursuit. In my opinion any creative solution, as a property, tends to be more efficient. But it might not always mean that if a person has become more creative, he has become more efficient.
Please share your success mantra with students so that they can take a motivation from it?
I have mentored and tutored more than 10,000 young brains and in all my experiences I have seen hard work beat genius. Needless to say that a genius mind with hard work is a lethal combination. IQ is not something we have a huge control on but hard work is completely in our control and as students we should develop this habit early in our life to put it to use.
My success mantra has been very simple: I believe if you are able to consistently focus your brain on any one thing and give it undivided attention, any task or problem, no matter how hard, it can be achieved or solved. It's just a matter of giving consistent mental energy and that requires will power and discipline.
My suggestion to students is to develop this as early in your lives and nobody can then stop you. In the end I would like to sign-off by saying the famous Nike saying, "Just Do it all the best!