In our latest interview, we spoke to two promising entrepreneurs Tarun Uppal and Roohi Khera: Co-founders at Vnaya.com. Tarun is the co-founder and CEO of Vnaya.
He is a serial entrepreneur with over a decade long experience across various verticals. His startup Vnaya offers online tutoring and parenting support.
Let’s read more about their journey and how they are making the lives of students and parents a lot easier!
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Tarun and Roohi:
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your startup Vnaya and why did you choose this name?
Tarun (Co-founder and CEO) – So I was born and brought up initially in a small town of Punjab, and then I pursued high school and college from uptown north.
Roohi (Co-founder and COO) – I was born and brought up in Shimla. Have had stints with a few corporates for a brief period of 5 years before we co-founded Vnaya.
Our startup is called ‘Vnaya’ which means ‘education’ in Sanskrit and we founded it in 2012. We chose Vnaya because it is synonymous with what we are trying to solve. We started Vnaya with a vision to add value to the existing online learning and education system. Since technology has greatly improved and to quite an extent, defines the way we live today, we thought of amalgamating a unique learning process into an online platform and help young minds develop and make the entire academic experience wholesome. Education is the most important matter across the globe for each parent, we thought of making an endeavour to patch the learning style of the student with the teaching style of the tutor to ensure that the struggle to learn can be eased out and maximum output may be obtained. So its an edutech learning platform for k12 students abroad with a psychometric test which helps us in teaching in a way that is the most effective for a student to learn.
Why did you guys choose entrepreneurship over a job?
Tarun: After graduating in Business Administration, I got into my father’s well set up construction business. All was well, except for a sense of belongingness and something that I could call “my own creation”. I always wanted to be my own boss, though I tried a marketing job for a few months too, that was not my true calling. So early on I understood that I had to work something out for the professional satiation that I needed, and hence enter, my two-seater BPO from the basement of my house in 2003 and Creed Infotech Pvt Ltd was incorporated in India and the US. Working in the international markets, our firm specializes in BPO, KPO, Education and US Logistics. I would like to call the flexibility to deal with people, to figure out flexible solutions to the toughest problems as my major strengths. To always create new things is what thrives me. Weakness is that, sometimes, I give people undeserved chances which last longer than required. Sometimes when personal inhibitions and blockages of the mind come in the way of the bigger picture, I do get a bit impatient!
Roohi: Quite an expected career move after Masters in Business Administration, as a corporate job followed in Delhi is quite a then-thriving service industry of Life insurance around 2004. Few switches for growth as well as the inception of a great idea. Education brought us together professionally along with a personal unison. Since there was always a strong drive for a sense of accomplishment, I got going by contributing in a more valid fashion and our similar vision for an effective and value-creating education and learning system, found me more avidly involved in accomplishing keenly in our own business rather than somewhere outside. Plus with increasing personal responsibilities on the family front, this opened a way forward for a great learning experience as a new set of parents and thereby trying to accomplish what we really believed in. I would call it a strength that I always thought of creating value for all and not just my own self. Where people would come together in a conducive environment to exhibit the best versions of themselves and contribute to their as well as our success. Weakness would be that I get too straight forward at times and believe me, it is not too welcomed, and yes I am still learning to manage my time more effectively by failing and retrying every day.
What gets you out of bed in the morning i.e. what’s your source of motivation?
Good Question. Actually, a more valid question would be “out of bed in the night” as our operations run 24*6. But yea, its the will to do, to accomplish, to create and as we are Buddhist practitioners, so there is very famous guidance, which I would rephrase as “At work do the work of 3 and never complain!”. We are fond of what we do, very dearly. We are in the process of now making the entire experience par excellence. For which a lot of automation and development is happening extensively. After dreaming and conceptualization, creating and execution is extremely important, and now that we have created systems with a great team,aking it better is paramount. Stagnation is regressing after all!
What challenges/obstacles did you face in your journey so far?
Every business has its risks. Starting an edutech business from Mohali had its set of challenges which were rather tough in terms of hiring people from the same industry, as this side of the country didn’t have any let alone finding them, so burn rate was exceptionally high. We have been self-funded throughout, where the support of friends and family has been phenomenal. It was a lot of trial and error, and it would be a lie if we d not mention that we did seem to hit an impasse, but we saw through with the extensive research that we had done and of course hard work and undying efforts made. Seasonal slow down is a very obvious thing for the education industry, but we struggled to find luring alternatives in Oceania region during summer breaks in North America, plus we started to customize our programmes during this time. Innovation is the key, we learnt. To find innovative heads who would persevere is the biggest challenge even more so than funding to keep the show running.
Tell our audience more about your failures? How should one bounce back?
One thrives in the face of adversity. We just kept going whether green or grey. Kept persevering! Also along the way understood, more than a brilliant idea what is more important is the know-how and those little efforts to execute it. Taking one step at a time helps, for a venture to scale up. Believe! Only if you have absolute conviction, can you lend it to the other? Try, fall, get up, repeat until you succeed.
What comes first for you – money or emotions?
So money has to be a by-product of what one desires to accomplish. If money was the main objective, certainly we could have not come this far. Ofcource would not say that money is not important, but the idea, the mission has to be of a greater good, has to be profound.
What advice would you give to someone starting out, particularly to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I always work on a tag line ‘add value to get value’. Don’t focus primarily on money or investments, though it’s hard as times are pretty tough through initial runs. Every moment seems like a never-ending impasse! But keep your focus strong on what you desired on creating and that you started out with a dream of a sustainable venture & value creation. I believe, rest of the things will automatically set with time. Remember, effective execution is the key so much so that it has the ability to ruin a well-sorted idea. Though baby steps keep moving. Also, if you are starting up a venture, feel free to reach out to us. You will find us a great partner!
Follow Vnaya at:
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/vnayaeducation/
Website – https://www.vnaya.com/
Follow Tarun Uppal & Roohi Khera at:
Tarun Uppal – https://www.linkedin.com/in/tarun-uppal-6146b73b/
Website – http://www.tarunuppal.com/
Roohi Khera – https://www.linkedin.com/in/roohi-khera-4437223b/