UpGrad was launched in early 2015 by Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Ravijot Chugh and Prabhav Phalgun with an aim to empower working professionals and individuals to reach their full professional potential by providing them with quality online education programs and facilities. It targets working professionals looking to up-skill to further progress in their careers with industry ready programs. UpGrad has assembled a team with extensive experience in education, media and technology products. UpGrad offers programs in Entrepreneurship, Digital Marketing, Data Analytics, Angel Investment, Product Management and Android App Development. Mayank Kumar, Co-Founder & MD, UpGrad was named as a contender to the BW Disrupt 40 Under 40 list in 2017.
In an interaction with BW Disrupt, Mayank Kumar shared details about his venture.
Success mantra Focus - I got into the education sector and fell in love with it. Since then, I have been very focused on learning more about the sector and forming a deeper understanding of the sector. Not just in what I am doing, but in day-to-day activities — having that focus is extremely crucial. The driving force behind your journey - I have been an advisor and investor in the education sector prior to starting my own venture. I was personally involved in deals worth a billion dollars flowing into the sector. Having seen multiple scale education business models and also having seen the quality of education system in India, I was very clear that India needs a platform that can take quality education to scale. As an investor, I was also very disappointed with the quality of education assets in India. All these observations led me to starting up on my own.
Business advice - I would say two things:
1) Don’t spread yourself too thin. The deeper you go in one area, the better it is. 2) Always focus on things that you do well that others will find difficult to replicate.
Tips for budding entrepreneurs - Have focus. Love the problem you are solving. And lastly, always remember that investment is just a means to an end and not an end in itself. Government support - The government is taking the right steps. However, many a times you will find that certain guidelines were drafted keeping in mind large organisations. That change of mindset to cater to early stage companies is happening, but will take its own time. A few areas where we find specific challenges are going international, TDS (tax deducted at source) for early stage companies, etc. The team - This is the most important aspect to be successful. Nothing can be more important than having the right team. Another point to note is that it is not just about the right team, but having the right team at the right time.
Inspiration - My parents are my idols. My father, for where he reached in his career, keeping in mind the background he came from. And in his entire journey staying grounded and humble. And my mother, for always being thoughtful about others and sacrificing what she needed for herself.
The next step - We will be looking at expanding our product offering for the consumers with more partnerships and credentials. This year we will also focus on expanding our presence amongst corporates. And lastly, we will be looking at targeting international markets.