Rohit Manglik studied at NIT Karnataka and worked for organizations such as Oracle, Morgan Stanley and DE Shaw before launching his own venture, EduGorilla. With EduGorilla, he aims to streamline the Indian education system and establish a one-stop solution that matched the career needs of every Indian student.
The Times Blog - Stories is an initiative to promote promising startups in the Indian consumer ecosystem, and this edition features Rohit's journey in shaping up EduGorilla.
The (Indian) startup culture has given birth to some really exciting success stories, just waiting to be told. Hopefully, my story fits somewhere inside this setup. It began with the sprouting of an idea (of founding EduGorilla), back in 2016. I wanted to work in the education sector and make a real difference, because that's where my passion led me.
I feel lucky that EduGorilla became a reality this early-on, in my life. To be honest, I was totally devoted to my full-time job, and had developed exceptional technical skills. Leaving a well-paid job to chase my own dreams was a risky decision. But then, there was also the added excitement of being your own boss and to have the freedom to play around with your own rules.
Nevertheless, there was also the essential flip side, where you need to be ready to blame yourself if anything goes wrong. Nobody comes to your rescue when your market research or strategy fails. And above all, starting a business from scratch is a very hard nut to crack. Only your drive, passion, and dedication allow you to take the plunge. So I did.
The early challenges
When I started my journey with EduGorilla in 2016, I faced many setbacks, be it capital sourcing, or recruitment. Hiring was, and remains a cumbersome process. I had to don the hat of an interviewer a thousand times just to find a recruit with the right skill set. It is said that the right type of hiring at an early stage has the greatest impact in the long run for any startup. And that has been my exact experience in the last two years.
The story behind EduGorilla
About 10 years back, I went back to visit my school - after a gap of several years. I spoke to the present-day teachers and students and discovered that there was a huge, unacknowledged gap in our education system. I wanted to bridge it. You see, there are hundreds of coaching institutes today, but students still can't seem to find the right kind of career guidance. There is a rising disconnect among teachers and students, schools and students, mentors and pupils, about what concrete steps to take in addition to the prescribed curriculum. An understanding of this gap was instrumental in triggering the idea to establish an educational platform - a step that was definitely a turning point in my life.
I also wanted to do something to help students from an impoverished or underprivileged background. And being a techie, this was perfectly aligned to my interest in the field of digital distribution of education. So, I decided to leave my job and follow my dream.
The challenges & journey of EduGorilla
I was lucky to have tremendous support from my friends and family. However, it was an arduous journey. Whenever I tried to solve one problem, two more cropped up. Every hurdle required a different approach and a different solution.
One of my biggest challenges was to find suitable talent. Farukkhabad, which is still developing, did not have the skilled workforce to cater to my startup. I discovered and hired a few talented interns to kickstart my project (via Internshala). In the initial stages, managing them successfully was an uphill task - a process that I learned with an experimental approach. Even though all the applicants had a wonderful profile, I had to assign them a task before they got selected.
This was done in order to evaluate if they were suitable for the role and profile that I had envisioned for them. To motivate them better, I offered them target-based incentives as opposed to a fixed monthly stipend. This also helped me in lightening my financial and managerial liabilities. I even pushed some amount of ownership to them, so that they could come up with suggestions for improvement.
Once the internship was over, we offered full-time opportunities to those who had performed well, as they had understood our company's culture and were comfortable working with us to build the future.
Where EduGorilla stands today
EduGorilla has seen exceptional growth so far, and we have been covered by several major newspapers and national news channels. We have also deployed powerful AI (Artificial Intelligence)-driven systems to create an amazingly curated list of about 3,00,000 plus Schools in 6 states, and this number is forever on the rise. We have a list of 57,132 (and counting) coaching centers in about 53 Indian cities.
We don’t just have an online presence, but we also do a lot of groundwork by personally visiting and counseling students of all ages via our expert networked psychologists. Recently, we collaborated with a renowned NGO called FUEL to counsel students in the various districts of Haryana.
Our work was even appreciated by Prakash Javadkar, the Union Human Resource Development Minister of India.
The startup that took its first breath in Farrukhabad (a tier-III town in India) has slowly spread its wings to other parts of the country now. We have over 60 people on board, including some of our initial interns.
What the future looks like, for EduGorilla
Five years down the lane, I imagine EduGorilla expanding its reach globally, in addition to impacting the lives of over 10 lakh students in India. Going by my experience, I can say that an entrepreneurial journey is never a smooth sail; but it is certainly worth embarking upon, in the long-run.