1. What inspired you to startup this venture? I mean was there any turning moment or a situation that made you think of an idea like this?
When we did our market survey for online music learning in early 2014 we found that there was a great demand for technology solution for independent educators & test prep institutes to teach online.
We developed a minimal product prototype and demoed it to 50 prospective leads. They were impressed and about 5 of them signed up as paid customers immediately. This gave us lot of confidence about our concept / idea and in taking it to next level.
2. Mr. Shivaranjan how did you form this team?
We are two founders. Both of us are school & college mates. We have been friends from past 20 years and working together from last 4 years.
Shankar (http://in.linkedin.com/in/shankarmaheshh) has 10+ years of experience and has worked in companies like Huawei and Motorola as technical architect.
Ranjan (http://in.linkedin.com/in/shivaranjankumar) has about 10+ year of experience and has work in companies like IBM & GE as business analyst and project manager.
3. Mr. Shivaranjan , we have seen your site and you have done a brilliant job! How did you find out about the future?
Learnyst has evolved through market requirements and feedback from teachers & educators. Every feature developed on Learnyst has been derived through requirements from prospective customers. This has helped Learnyst find its niche and market fit in a very short time. Our features and product road map are inline with market demands.
4. You’re the co-founder of this firm, how do you feel leading this idea?
One of the biggest lesson I have learnt as an entrepreneur is to be customer centric & to create value for our customers. Every single feature that you see on Learnyst is derived from customer requirement & we are already reaping the benefit. We have been successful in creating 30X value proposition for educations. We are a team with hackers and hustlers who can sense and quickly adapt to market requirement & grow.
5. Please, tell us about some of the achievements of learnyst.com?
1. In a span of one year we have enabled more than 50 education institutes to come online and teach more than 25,000/- students.
2. We have partnered with reputed test prep institutes like Career Launcher and corporate companies like TCIL & Forus as technology partners.
6. How do you advertise and how are you going to be advertising- learnyst.com?
We embrace different marketing techniques to reach and acquire new customers.
a. Direct Sales – For acquiring high potential customers with high Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
b. Social media marketing – Targeting independent tutors and education institutes through Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Quora and Google+
c. SEO & organic search – Improve SEO index through high quality blog contents and other SEO techniques
d. PR & back links – We are actively participating in local/international competitions/events which helps us get good PR coverage. Submitting our products on relevant listing/discovery sites helps us establish back links and hence improve SERPs ranking.
e. Free 14 day trial – Learnyst offers free 14 days trial for anyone who signs-up on Learnyst. Thus, providing opportunity for potential users to explore complete Learnyst product.
7. Mr. Shivaranjan, how tough was it to make this idea/dream into a reality?
As with any start-up the initial days were hard. It took us some time to identify market fit & to pivot our product to SaaS model. Once we started interacting with prospective clients and leads we got more clarity and confidence with our product & roadmap ahead.
8. Mr. Shivaranjan, how do you think the users of learnyst.com will react after using it?
Almost every educator who signs-up on Learnyst is delighted to see our product features and easy to launch their branded online eLearning system. It saves them time and cost in building their online learning system from scratch. Most importantly, they can focus on creating course content & teaching students without having worry about technology maintenance.
9. I would like to ask you, what is the USP of learnyst.com?
Here are some of the USPs that Learnyst offer
a Content security – With encrypted streaming educators content are safe from piracy.
b. Only platform in India to provided end-to-end technology platform to launch branded eLearning website. Learnyst provides website builder, student analytics, LMS, Payment integration, hosting streaming and other technically advanced features to teach online.
c. Adaptive video steaming technology which ensures continuous video streaming even at low internet connectivity.
d. Learnyst has all the features required for Indian Test Prep Institutes. For example we have developed assessment templates for some of the popular competitive exams like CAT, GATE, IIT JEE, CLAT and more. These features are a great value add for test prep institutes in India.
e. Learnyst offers branded mobile apps on both Android and iOS with unlimited push notifications, DRM encryption, offline access & seamless access across web and mobile.
10. Startup aspirant would like to know how did you manage resources for stating up your business plan?
We started Learnyst bootstrapped. We managed running Learnyst for initial few months with our personal savings. Its always hard to run the business till you see some steady revenue flowing in. Hiring good resources who are passionate about product / idea is key for success.
11. How do you think that your contribution towards the nation help? Be it employability, help, etc.
Given that Learnyst is EdTech product you can see the mass impact and benefit for student community. Its not just restricted to school and college students, currently Learnyst is used by corporate companies for internal employee training. Thus, benefiting students & professionals in improving their skills & knowledge base. We feel pride and privileged for being technology enabler behind every student’s success.
12. Mr. Shivaranjan, as per you, what is your competition analysis?
Learnyst is first such product in India. We have competitors outside India. Here are our top three competitors who are doing good business.
We differentiate ourselves in both offerings and pricing model. Our differentiating offerings are content security, branded mobile applications, adaptive video streaming technology, assessment interface for test prep institutes & powerful DIY site builder tool. Our solution is targeted for Indian market as against our competitors.
13. Where do you see your business in the coming 5 years, what are your stages of development?
We are targeting to achieve following milestones within next 12 months:
1. Target to have 200 paid customers
2. Provide marketing tools for educators like emails, push notifications, social integration, SMS, coupons, partnership with marketplace vendors etc
3. Automate development of branded mobile apps
4. Improve upon customization tools, In-depth analytics & plug-ins
5. Make Learnyst product fit for higher education institutes & corporate training
Post 2016 our focus would be to establish market presence through outbound marketing and to reach international markets.
14. Did you ever incur a moments that discouraged you? Any losses or lows? If yes, what made you stand strong, who or what was it that motivated you at that point?
Maintaining right product-market expectation is tricky. When you are building new product you will have to take some tough decisions to forego certain business opportunities if it does not align with your product roadmap. These kind of tricky decisions are not just restricted for business opportunities, we have faced it while hiring / firing employees, choosing your life style as entrepreneur and possibly in every day decisions. Once you have make the decision you should be ready to accept it either way.
15. Rapid fire round:
a. What does success mean to you in one sentence?
Success is a journey. If you are better off than yesterday then you are in the path of success.
b. How would you evaluate a tough situation in one word?
c. What does achievement mean to you, in one line?
Being helpful to others or world in general.
d. Life is a rat race- do you agree or disagree.
Disagree. You just race against yourself.
e. What does start up mean to you, a challenge or an opportunity, or both?
Both a challenge and opportunity.
f. One advice to the aspirants who want to startup?
Be persistent, keep improving & have a mindset to move on without worrying about hard times.