Founder and CEO
I run the overall operations and manage the business-related work at LurnQ. As a CEO and Founder, I am the custodian of our company’s vision. Keeping the team vision aligned and focused requires continuous efforts. While LurnQis designed as an open web consumer tool; we also discovered a latent need for privately deployed (SaaS) in the SME sector, especially within the businesses that mostly deal with knowledge workers and have a continuous need to learn more skills. Given this finding, we will be releasing LurnQ for Business/ enterprises in early April. We have signed up five anchor clients for alpha testing. Besides this we are working on a WAP LurnQ and an android app rollout. For the consumer web product, we are aiming at a user base of 100k by June 2013.
Technium Labs, the company behind LurnQ, was founded in early 2011 by Tarun Mitra, Ramesh Nidadavolu (IIT-Bombay) and DevvratArya (IIT-Bombay ). The founding team later expanded to include VikasVerma (IIT-Bombay), RajshekharRatrey (IIT-Bombay) and ShobhitVashistha (IIT-Bombay). We launched LurnQ closed alpha in April 2012, whichwas followed by our first round of funding from Seedfund. Currently we are a 15 member team. LurnQ has seen rapid adoption and we are doubling our user base month on month since January 2013.
I manage my team by delegating tasks and allowing them to do it their way. I try not to practice micromanagement as I believe that it can hinder an employee’s creative progress. I give my team feedback and am equally open to receiving feedback from them because I firmly believe that inspiration is a two-way process and we’re all a part of the same vision. I believe self-confidence is a prerequisite for success. I encourage my team to be bold, try new things, offer ideas, exude positive energy, and constructively support the organization. Self confidence is the biggest defense against mediocrity which gives birth to a fatal culture of insecurity.
I belong to a conservative Bengali family and I am the youngest among five siblings. My parents migrated to this side of the border empty handed during independence. My father was a researcher at DRDO that initially inspired me to pursue a postgraduate degree in Nuclear Physics.
My Role Model
I do not have any role model as such. I believe that we can learn a thing or two from a lot of successful people. I have been fortunate to have the chance to work with a very bright young team at Technium, and as a matter of fact their vision for life inspires me the most.
Risks Involved in Business and Way of Addressing
The biggest challenge for a core technology startup is to recruit and retain highly motivated tech talent at significantly lower cost than the industry standard. Initially recruiting was managed through the network of our core team members.Now we run a regular internship program at IIT-Bombay, which helps us in grow the technology team. Another challenge is to have a capable team that can help you execute your business vision. Our core technology team shares the same vision for LurnQ and as we are expanding and hiring new members, we try our best to instill similar values in them which resonates with the vision and mission of LurnQ. In terms of managing risk we try our best to stay ahead on the technology curve as well as maintain speed in terms new product features and innovations. Our focus on superior UI/UX since LurnQ’s inception has also helped us in managing competitive risks.
Most critical decision
Entrepreneurship means believing in your own self and giving yourself a chance to do what you like, something that you’ve always wanted to do. This belief should be a strong guiding force for you to move ahead in life and live your dream. I allowed myself that freedom to believe, to dream big and follow a larger vision for the company. I guess that’s the most important decision I ever made.
The Current Entrepreneurship Eco System
I think it is still in a very early stage, however things are changing fast but I hope to see a better entrepreneurship scenario in India. For example, our angel investor network is largely driven by HNIs right now and in time to come we will see more successful Indian entrepreneurs taking charge. In addition to this, the continuously depressed primary markets have forced successful startups to put IPO plans on hold; this restricts M&A possibilities and exit possibilities for venture capitalists, making funding difficult for new ventures. I also think a lot more needs to be done in the area of incubation for projects. Incubation allows faster trials of ideas towards success or failure.
There are always two choices in life – to follow the herd and do what everyone else is doing or to chooseto do something that can make a difference. It is the power to have that innate understanding of what difference one can make by identifying a problem and making the best use of your skillset to solve it. I strongly recommend the latter.
I personally find it ridiculous when I see a lot of budding entrepreneurs busy finding out which sector or industry is getting funded and then deciding to do something in that particular sector. Even venture capitalists suggest entrepreneurs to refrain from doing so. Running a startup to make money is considered foolish as the popular belief is that startups may or may not succeed and there is a lot of risk involved. However, I would encourage students and entrepreneurs to do something because they want to do it, because they believe in something. It is not the value you add to a business by running it that counts, but it is the value your passion brings to a business. Learning is a continuous process – the more you try, the more you fail at it, the more you learn.