Bringing Ideas to Fructification

Entrepreneurial Ventures – The Beginning

Jyoshna: Hailing from a business family, I always aimed to do something new or set up a unique business that solves a prevailing problem. For me, work never became a job. In business, there is always a problem and a solution. From a very early age I used to work on solutions whenever a problem arose-from being a class representative to leading social campaigns for my school to organizing events in the college. If management set out a problem, I was always there to help. As a result of all these experiences, I realized that I am good at strategizing, executing, and planning. My entrepreneurial journey began with learning, building experiences to boost my confidence. I experimented with multiple roles and designations before I launched my own business. In order to discover my capacity to manage situations, I worked with small teams. I worked  under an experienced  director of a MNC,  who always gave me the opportunity to explore and learn about the functionality of the operations that came into existence. Having managed and executed small business strategies successfully, I decided then to start my own business. My co-founder and I conducted extensive research prior to executing our  business ideas. Those were the days when INKPROG was founded, providing end-to-end customer-centric services to many major clients. Initially we ran into problems with resources. Our prospects always had skill gaps; that’s when we decided to start careerpedia, an upskilling platform with a unique approach toward filling the skill gaps of the next generation of workers. We understood that we are not short of Ed-Tech companies, & training centers on skill, still the problem prevailed and company’s started feeling the heat of getting in the right talent. Careerpedia’s uniqueness lies in its level-based approach to skills gaps for students and job seekers. Regardless of a student’s skill level or knowledge, he or she can seamlessly adapt to the curriculum without any extra effort; that’s how we structured this curriculum, and this is what we believe sets us apart from our competitors in this vast market. We considered multiple elements in designing (ex: attention span of the student, examples that are taken from everyday routine for easy understanding, etc.) the learning method that matches the mindset of the current generation.

Rahul: Growing up, I was always curious about everything, and I was always the top performer in all the different activities conducted at school. Academically, I always felt a gap due to a lack of engagement in the system. After completing my graduation, I went on to pursue my MBA in marketing. This gave me a broad view of several aspects of various businesses and their processes, and I then decided not to get into any MNCs, and instead, I launched my first start-up company, INKPROG Technologies. Ltd., where I put all my expertise in design and marketing to use. The team was small, but we were productive. While we sought new talent to take our vision forward, we found it extremely difficult to find the right people. Each time we went through the hiring process, we did not even fill one position. In exploring the underlying causes of this situation, I discovered that not just start-ups but also major MNCs are affected. In most cases, the hiring company faces many challenges processing talent and skill gaps caused by these candidates. I had no choice but to act. With this vision, my co-founder and I founded Careerpedia, an upskilling platform where anyone can seamlessly upgrade their skills. We are proud of what we have achieved. And yes, there is competition, and there are huge players in this market, but we are confident that our uniqueness will set us apart. The model we use is quite different. Our approach is unique because we expose trainees to real-world experiences through direct involvement in real-time projects.

The Journey – Challenges

Jyoshna: I can say my entrepreneurial journey till now has been a great learning for me, I learnt many aspects of administration to the depth and understood how to handle situation like COVID 19 pandemic when it arised, I have seen our companies drowning to TROUGH AND GROWING TO CREST despite all the flow stoppers, I can say it has been a wonderful set of years to which I always look back to, for all the learnings I have found. Coming to the challenges part, In the initial stages of careerpedia, it’ was always hard to make the Student/Aspirant understand that,

  • Nothing comes in easy, and effort is needed for the longevity of any skill.
  • Knowledge and skill are different, and skilling needs time and practice and cannot happen in a small span of time.
  • For the current generation, learning should be an ongoing process, and with the upgrade of technologies, re-skilling has to happen. 
  • Make them understand what real communication is and how to work and deal with diversity for team communication by switching away from their social network/friends.
  • Making them understand the current job market/ how important it is to work in a team of diversity / how important linked in is! 

There are multiple aspects that are taken care through the challenges considered from the Company’s perspective too.

That’s the core reason why we train them on communication, professionalism, adaptability, to work in diversity as a part of Careerpedia along with technologies as we are making a gateway for them into the companies.

Rahul: As we are progressing day by day, till now, it has been a smooth ride, but we had our ups and downs in this journey due to the COVID 19 pandemic, where we had to give a break to our process, but apart from that in the present day, we see a considerable improvement. Due to our unique ideology and approach, we can visualize the future of our business. We subject our business model to various competitor analyses and strategic approaches and found a very positive response each time. Keeping the analytics aside, our upskilling model speaks for itself through its level-based model, which brings life to the upskilling concept. Hence, as the student progresses through the levels, he can choose his desired job pertaining to that specific level. 

Significant challenges that we faced through and are prevailing are 

  • Student/aspirant motivation: Students are not ready to think about their career or not ready to adapt to act cautiously to land a good job.
  • Attention span: Aspirants are not ready to have the patience to learn skills. They can’t stay on a thing for a longer time (or) don’t want to think of the word “REAL”.

Though it’s hard to address the type of problems mentioned, we have taken the challenge of it and I can say we are progressing really well. On a daily basis we push students and aspirants to apply their mind, even if they are failing at it, which is opening new doors both in their mind and career.

Millepreneur versus Other Generations

Jyoshna: In my opinion, yes. Millennials have seen changes in technology, and that is happening right from the time of pagers. Most of us have seen or used pagers and now we carry high tech gadgets in our pockets capable of high end computing. We have seen a tremendous shift from analog to a digital medium. We have experienced the revolution that has passed in our generation. I believe we millennial are fortunate to have been born as we are the only ones who physically understand how the shift happens. We are the kind of people who can understand and adapt to any situation. 

Originally, we were analog. Then we became digital. Teamwork is something we do well. We can work from home using digital tools. We run things efficiently. We keep things moving. We have several things to offer. I’d call us adaptable. With all the experiences and the changes, we have experienced, I believe we can make an informed decision quickly. Therefore, I feel fortunate to be a millennial.

There are now several avenues open to budding entrepreneurs that had previously been closed. So, I think this shift in the ease of initiating and executing various ideas is what makes entrepreneurship easier for a millennial than the previous generation.

Rahul: When we go back in time like at least thirty years, that’s when my previous generation might have started their entrepreneurial journey. There was a massive void in many aspects of starting & executing a business successfully. Compared to the present day, the ease of starting & executing a business has drastically improved in the present day due to the technological revolution. Even though there is massive competition across all the markets of any business these days, I can say YES, it is easy to start and execute a business successfully today for the millepreneur. Having said that, it is definitely not a cakewalk. This ease comes with its challenges, but only when compared to the previous generation can we highlight the perks for a Millennial. These days’ people have the opportunity to start small and scale up to higher levels as the business starts to bloom, which in itself is a significant advantage. This generation has to take the risk, and I believe that beautiful things will happen only with risk.

Pandemic Impact and Future Plans

Jyoshna: The Pandemic was a significant learning phase for me because it hit us hard, but we withstood it with great strength, making us proud of ourselves as we advanced. The significant impact of the Pandemic was that it was hard for me to find suitable candidates as our resources due to everything being conducted online. Getting a skilled resource into the company was a significant challenge. It is always different; it was a challenge to adapt to this scenario. People used to come in with some knowledge but a complete lack of skill. They didn’t see the difference between both; Knowledge is knowing something, and skill is the ability to perform and execute. So there are hardly a few people who are happy and are ready to work in the team and put in their efforts with the Co team. There were challenges with employee retention. However, we have trained them to bring a seamless flow to the work. 

The road ahead for our venture in the post-pandemic scenario, I can say, is very well paved, and we can see our vision unfolding day by day. We are happy that we have progressed from a small team to an established organization today. We are slowly getting hold of all our capabilities and building and bootstrapping them for our long journey.

Our vision was always to upskill India, which has been driving us to the next level from the beginning. And soon, we are going to come up with an exclusive announcement of our Edtech platform, which will be the break-even point of our vision, and through this success, we can say our vision has unfolded into reality. I believe the effort and hard work we are channelling towards this venture is tremendous, and the result also will be the same. HUSTLING YET CHALLENGING. WE ARE LOVING THE CHALLENGES. WE REPLACED THE WORD “PROBLEM” With “CHALLENGE” AS WE BELIEVE OPTIMISM GIVES US STRENGTH.

Rahul: Being a start-up, retaining and making our employees switch to online platforms was challenging. As a result of the sudden change, all the team members had a lot of time to work on projects. Several projects had to be dropped due to delays in connectivity. Employee retention has been difficult. Having a gap in communication makes job seekers or aspirants lag. Dependencies make it more challenging to execute plans.

As for the positive side of this story, we have built the operational methods of the product and had ample time to pilot it on why we are failing and how to keep the employees. By taking into account the feedback of over 50 HRs daily, which was easy to connect, the essential needs have been optimized. It was hassle-free to sit back and brainstorm the ideas to bring in quality.

Today, in this post-pandemic world, we are progressing well. Compared to all the progress we have gone through before the pandemic; the transformation has become rapid. I can proudly say we have been through all the pandemic challenges to establish what we are capable of today.

Coming to our venture, careerpedia, our edtech platform, we are developing a unique structure with some of the most demandable USPs, and that I believe will take us to the next level. Today, we receive great responses from all the responders to the testing process.

Words of Wisdom for Prospective Millepreneurs

Jyoshna: When you have a suitable solution to a prevailing problem in the world, and when you are confident ENOUGH TO correct THE solution WITH HANDFUL OF RESOURCES THAT YOU HAVE TO START WITH, take your plunge. Entrepreneurship or being a co-founder are thought to be easy AND FANCY jobs.  Those with a team of two or three say that they own a company and do this, but I tell you, entrepreneurship is not a career path. Entrepreneurship is capable of doing all the things involved in running a business. Therefore, I don’t always work on just being a co-founder when I say my designation. Co-founder means I execute things, plan things, strategize things, market things, and go on sales. I will have to be HR. There are multiple responsibilities. It is essential to understand the true meaning of being an entrepreneur, where you have to absorb all the things that help a company grow. If you have all the skills or think you can handle everything, maybe a team of two can also accomplish the task. It is just a matter of understanding what the central element of the company is. It is a more significant responsibility because you should understand how to give and what changes need to be made when you give a solution. It isn’t a single word, and it’s enormous. It’s undefined. There is no single word for entrepreneurship. It is an ambiguous term. It encompasses a variety of elements. You just need to find the right solution to the problem at hand. I’m telling you that if that is there, the world will lay you a carpet to get into the market.

Rahul: Make sure the project you choose is one you’re passionate about. Starting your own business isn’t something you should take lightly. As a CEO, you will probably have to work much harder than you would in a traditional employment position – and you will need more than just the prospect of money and the novelty of the job to motivate you.

Steve Jobs famously said, “Work will take up a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do work that you love.”

Make sure you surround yourself with the right people.Your success is heavily influenced by the people you surround yourself with, from the team you assemble to your circle. We are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Defining your vision and setting goals are essential. It’s great to have an idea, but you need to know where you envision your company in one, five, and ten years to set your goals accordingly. Every day, you can ensure that what you’re working on is aligned with your goals – and getting you closer to them. 

A lifetime of learning awaits you. To succeed as a new entrepreneur, you should learn everything you can: not just when you start, but continuously, as your industry will change constantly.

Having said all the above things, I would like to conclude there is no better time to take the plunge than RIGHT NOW! All The Best.

About the Power Couple

Jyoshna Reddy Bodedhula and Rahul Reddy Mabbu are both MBA in marketing and co-founders of INKPROG Technologies and Careerpedia.

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About the Millepreneur Edition

Millepreneur edition puts a spotlight on the millennial entrepreneurs. Millennial entrepreneurs are a set of new generation entrepreneurs, brave and visionary. Armed with quality professional education and new-age technology tools, they are here to change the world and make it a better place to live. 

Edition curated by – Dr. Debashish Sengupta, Asia Editor of Future of Earth