Who is an entrepreneur? ‘One who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise’, that’s how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word ‘entrepreneur’. If you ask an entrepreneur, the answer will be significantly leaner, meaner, and to the point. An entrepreneur doesn’t look at entrepreneurship as running a business, rather looks at it primarily as solving problems, and then creating a business around that solution. That’s exactly what entrepreneurs are; ‘Problem-solvers’. They are innovators. Artists, if I may. The magnitude or nature of the problem doesn’t matter; it can be anything as grave as the water crisis or as trivial as creating a pet rock. They just have these unmissable itches that they just have to scratch.
Two such problem solvers are Parth Shah and Parth Jain from Studysid, a start-up that aggregates coaching classes (think of them as Zomato but for coaching classes). One of the Parths (plural for Parth), Parth Shah, shared their start-up story with me in this freewheeling interview. Here’s the story…
Back in January of 2017, when both Parth (Shah + Jain), —taking the Parth in common—were in college pursuing undergraduate courses, they noticed a pattern when it came to college students buying textbooks. Seniors would go to the local book store, sell their old textbooks, and the juniors who wanted the books would buy them from the store. The two Parths (plural for Parth, as mentioned earlier) saw a gap. What if they could create a platform where students who wanted certain books could buy them directly from the source instead of buying that from a middleman, who very generously rewards him/herself with a huge cut? That was the germ that birthed their start-up!
Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!
They quickly realized that the model though effective at solving the problem was not an economically viable business. So they did exactly what any good entrepreneur would, they pivoted. They pivoted to becoming a coaching class aggregator.
The duo knew they wanted to get into the education business because of the education market’s inherent nature of being recession-proof, and they also managed to find a problem to solve. “Only 0.4% of students giving a test prep exam eventually land up in a college, let alone one of their choice,” said Parth Shah, co-founder, Studysid. Adding to his point, he said, “Enrolling into coaching classes is one of the most important decisions that a student makes to reach their dream, but it is taken very lightly. There’s what is called a herd mentality. Frankly, most students decide without any competitive knowledge.” And that’s the problem Studysid decided to solve.
Studysid helps students make informed decisions, giving them all the information about a coaching class, student reviews, live demo lectures, and alumni information. “We do this so that we can figure out the student’s compatibility quotient with a coaching class so that the student is 100% sure that s/he will be able to attain her/his dream going to the coaching class.”
But what’s in it for the student? Why can’t they just approach coaching classes directly? Sure, it’d be a lot more work but it’s a one-time process, right? Without a second of hesitation, the passionate entrepreneur answered, “You don’t just save time. We offer scholarships at all these coaching classes so that a you can also save money in the process.” Now, I’m no MBA (might have to explore some CAT Coaching Classes on Studysid) but I do understand some things about business. If your business that can save someone both time and money, then your product is of immense value to the end consumer, and that’s Studysid.
Investing in the Invested
Initially, the two founders had a 9 to 5 to be able to sustain the business from 5 to 9. And after braving through this energy-draining routine, the pair managed to get an investor on board. And since then, they’ve lent all their time to the love of their life.
Talking about why the pair quit their jobs and pursued their entrepreneurial dream, Shah said, “There was always a passion to do something of our own. We both come from business backgrounds, so doing a job was never really the main focus for us.”
“Entering a completely new domain, where there are no competitors, we had to build the market and customer acquisition strategies by ourselves. There was no one to look up to or copy from,” expressed the founder, giving deeper insights into the struggles of being first to market.
Their product had a huge learning curve simply because it was so unprecedented. No one had ever come across anything like this. Imagine being able to go into a restaurant and saying Zomato and getting a discount. That reaction you have right now is exactly what consumers had—too good to be true! Shah explained, “Educating customers to understand that they will get a discount at a coaching class - by just saying ‘Studysid’ was impossible. Every student thought of it as a scam.”
When asked what these hardships of business taught him, Shah said, “I got experience in closing funds, doing business deals with classes, giving a speech to sell Studysid in front of 500 students, leading a team of 15 people, operations, go on and on. Every day we keep learning so much more, and none of that is covered in textbooks.”
Speaking about some special moments from their journey, the founder recounted, “Securing our angel round was a very big one for us. Getting our own office and to be able to have fifteen amazing people on this journey with us, has been nothing short of a blessing.” Carrying on, he said, "Getting TIME and IMS onboard with us was massive. They're both the biggest coaching classes for CAT prep in India. After that, the entire team felt that we were onto something big."
Shah’s Slice of Life
In life, nothing is easy. And nothing is going to come to you. You have to make it happen.
Bigger, Better & Bolder
The pair are all set to expand their operations to the top 10 markets in India. Not just that, they’re also expanding their services. Up until recently, they were limited to the CAT, GRE, GMAT, GATE exams but now they’re adding more exams to their array of services. Shah said, “We would like to add at least a dozen more courses so that our target audience increases ten folds.”
He continued, “Scholarships are working. We are planning to give students an entire circle of services from helping decide which course to opt for all the way to giving the exams for the same. We have also launched our SaaS product for coaching classes.”
The two founders have managed to do what they do best, find problems, and offer solutions. And they intend to continue doing so because that’s just what entrepreneurs do.
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Be Persistent. Focus on your goals and put in the hard work. Don’t do too many things, do one thing but be the best at that.
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 Coronavirus. Citizens mustn’t leave their homes unless absolutely essential. This series aims to bring to the readers 21 positive stories through this 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