Widhya :A Gamified learning-by-doing platform
Widhya is a startup to aid people who have skills and knowledge but because of low grades or some other reasons fails to secure an internship or a job. It is an EdTech startup that focuses on helping students become industry-ready by adopting a " learning by doing" approach.
Rahul Arulkumaran is the Co-founder of Widhya. He is a college grad who is fascinated with tech and is keen on exploring things outside the curriculum. This enabled him to gain tech knowledge probably more than any student of his batch, but he got a lower grade. Disappointingly, companies hire an intern with a higher GPA. The question, why do people focus on grades and not the quality
of a student, bothered him. This is one of the reasons that led to the inception of Widhya.
He is a person who believes in ‘giving back to society’. He was fascinated by the singer Chester Bennington of the band Linkin Park. But when he committed suicide, it devastated him. He saw the video of his wife giving back to the community, that was the eureka moment when the idea of Widhya crept into his head. Post this, he discussed the idea of Widhya with his room-mate and
now Co-Founder, Rishabh Singh, and they both started working on the idea almost immediately.
Initially, the idea was to build a ‘learning by doing’ platform for people who could actually learn something as he had seen a lot of people including his senior and super senior termed as ‘not being industry-ready’. They planned to build a basic learning platform to reward people because of the personal experience they faced and also because of the experience many people around him faced. He, along with his roommate, Rishabh Singh, co-founder of Widhya, failed to secure internships because both of them were not getting good grades but simultaneously people who secured good grades failed to bag jobs.
To investigate the matter, they conducted an Instagram survey on how many people are not getting internships due to low grades and how many people with high grades are not getting internships. The result was 90% with high grades failed to get internships, which astonished them. Simultaneously, almost the entire survey agreed that people with low grades didn’t get the internship. This
bothered them, and they decided to delve deeper into the idea and conducted a couple of offline surveys tying up with a couple of companies. Their central idea was ‘learning by doing’ approach. It would be useless without any practical experience. This is the reason for tying up with companies for offline trails, and in return, they would assist them to hire interns through their quality-
Their idea was to explore everything like digital marketing, content writing, finance. This is where they began. They started with conducting offline pilots which would enable them a way to build an online platform.
Widhya is an e-learning platform that enables you to get industrial exposure. They partnered with many companies, took up projects from them, and split them into smaller modules.
Since he is a technical person, managing offline pilots along with his studies were very hectic for him. They conducted offline pilots for so long that the whole product development cycle stopped after a point. He didn’t give up. He was working on it, but the process was slow and the first time working on a startup didn’t help much. They struggled to figure out a way to take things forward. But they decided it is always about design and aesthetics, so they immediately made up their mind to scale up their process.
The second hurdle they came across when they put their idea forward. Everyone discouraged them. Their idea was different from conventional methods. Generally, people paid attention to video-based learning, but on the contrary, their platform focused on the text-first approach. Their content clearly conveyed the message. When they discussed their idea with people, most of them let them
down by encouraging them to abandon their idea. The only ray of hope they had was the thought that students would understand their idea. This kept them motivated, and they didn’t pay any heed to criticism. They didn’t get funds, so they generated funds on their own.
They encountered every storm in their path like the tiger they are. They came across revenue challenge, criticism challenge, but the team of three didn't succumb to these hurdles and faced all the challenges united.
Steve Jobs said, “You can never connect the dots forward, you can only connect them looking backward”
This inspired Rahul a lot and he follows this quote. When he was in the second year of graduation, he started his speech with this quote and even narrated a story based on it. Whenever he begins something new, his subconscious mind knows that following this quote will help him at some point.
The second prominent thing that motivated him was the book ‘zero to one’ by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel. Going out of the league and starting something new is a difficult job. Going from zero to one is very challenging. The initial stage is loaded with challenges, but looking on the brighter side it gives the prospect of what life is ahead.
Suggestion for readers:
Rahul committed a mistake that he warns readers not to commit. He didn’t get his MVP out as soon as he wanted to. He suggests that as soon as you delve into something, you should get your MVP out and start interacting with customers. You shouldn’t panic if the growth is slow because the purpose of MVP is just to validate the idea and product. This would give you an insight into what a larger crowd desires and how they would react to your product. You never know what would be the result of MVP. So it would be wonderful to get feedback and provide them with what they want because at the end of the day they would be your customers.