In the first edition of the ‘21’ series, we spoke to Yashbeer Singh, Founder & CEO, Ques10—an education start-up that has changed the way engineering students in Mumbai study.
Do you want to build your own company? Do you want to start-up? Did it occur to you after watching TVF’s Pitchers? Silicon Valley? Social Network? Almost everyone has a big business dream but only a few have it in them to chase these dreams.
Start-ups are the new buzz in town. Thanks to popular culture and the fuel it has added to this fire, more and more people want to start something up of their own, be their own bosses. But what people don’t realize is that there is a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice that goes behind a company.
It’s like raising a child…but harder. Being a founder is a 24x7 job. It’s a task and frankly, not everyone has the mettle to sustain as an entrepreneur. Some studies say that 8 out of 10 businesses fail. Only 1 in every 5 start-ups actually stand the test of time. One such start-up is Ques10.
Yashbeer Singh, Founder & CEO, Ques10 founded his business while he was still in engineering college. He then went on to rock two boats with a high paying role at an MNC and his start-up. He then took a leap of faith and left his job to devote all of his time to his business.
And it paid off. Today, Ques10 has one of the most widely known websites in the engineering students’ sphere and he runs a publication under the name ‘KT280’ which is one of the most used engineering reference books today. Excerpts from our interview…
What’s your business story?
I was in my final year engineering. And as you could guess, engineering students are master procrastinators, so was I. They study when they have to and to add to that they only want to study stuff that is absolutely necessary for the exams. So just a few days before the clock strikes exam, they start hunting for the notes and books.
After days of struggle, when they do start reading they realize that the study material almost always isn’t up to the mark. And that’s when it clicked. So I thought what if we could write quality content from reference books ourselves? That’s how Ques10 was born. We collected academically proficient peers and asked them to write great content.
We started out with Xerox copies and we noticed that they got sold out faster than tickets for a Justin Bieber concert. We’d found our calling. And since then we’ve never looked back. We started publishing books under the KT280 banner (a brand under Ques10), which was our way of helping students in their journeys from going to KTs towards 80s. Today, we’re one of the foremost publications in the Engineering ecosystem.
If there’s an engineering student in Mumbai, s/he knows Ques10 and KT280. It’s not like there wasn’t competition. And there still is but we offer something that our competitors don’t, we offer an insider’s perspective. We’re engineering students ourselves and ‘Jugaad’ is something that runs in our blood and that’s exactly what led to this business as well. We offer quality content at an affordable price. How much? At less than a burger.
What have been some of the significant milestones in your business journey?
We had a very humble beginning. Friends became the team. Professors became the moderators and that’s how we took off. Soon we launched our website ques10.com and in a year we crossed 1 million hits per month. Today we serve more than 2.5 million hits every month.
Another interesting thing that we did in order to give back to our customers and the engineering community is that we celebrated Engineering Day on our anniversary last year. We opened up our store to anyone who wanted to come down and grab a free copy of our book. We ended up giving hundreds of copies to engineers who not just saved money but also saved themselves from the looming fear of bad grades.
What are the challenges for your business today?
One of the biggest challenges for me as a founder has been Finance. Since our start-up is bootstrapped, meeting its operational expenses sometimes becomes difficult. We are planning to bring in investors soon and hopefully, we should be well off. Another problem is content moderation. The content is increased at a humongous rate and we need a good moderation team (with great moderation tools) to maintain the quality we vouch for.
What is the next big thing on your business agenda?
Expansion. Expansion. Expansion! We are working to add a couple of more universities to our list. Another thing that is in the works is a video course which we are soon going to unveil.
What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?
I’m not great when it comes to imparting advice. But I would say entrepreneurship is NOT for the faint-hearted. The social pressure to perform and succeed becomes too high to cope up with sometimes. So be tough, very, very tough. Also, the hyper-aggressive chasing of dreams often leads to founders feeling lonely. So make good friends. They’ll help you when the going gets tough.
Yashbeer is an entrepreneur who has defied all odds. The energy and conviction you feel around him is so infectious that his belief in himself makes you believe in yourself. You can sense that he has a vision and a mighty good one. He’s not a businessman; he’s an entrepreneur, he solves problems. The one thing that I’ve taken from my time with Yashbeer is that if you have an idea, go ahead and give yourself a shot. And if problems arise and you’re really built to be an entrepreneur then you’ll solve them. Problem solved?
About the 21 series:
On the 24th of March 2020 the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi announced a nation-wide lock-down for 21 days to fight the pandemic that is the Corona Virus. Citizens mustn’t leave their homes unless absolutely essential. This series aims to bring to the readers 21 positive stories through this 21-day lock-down. Something to inspire them to keep at it and come back out of this horrific tragedy stronger.
If you have an inspiring story or know someone whose story the world must know, get in touch with me at email@example.com