Startup Talk with Vishal Chopra, Co-founder of CourseKart

Do you love watching videos over reading textbooks? Do you feel that commuting time can be used for studying? Then is the platform for students like you. CourseKart is a website that encourages collaborative learning among students and instructors by leveraging on the benefits of cloud based systems. We interviewed Vishal Chopra to find out more about their startup.

What’s the idea and concept behind CourseKart?

The idea behind CourseKart is to take learning outside the classroom by building the next-generation content delivery platform that connects coaches and publishers with students and allows students to learn, evaluate and collaborate anytime, anywhere.

CourseKart is our attempt to build a scalable, secure, cloud-based platform that enables instructors to engage, interact and collaborate with their students for a richer, shared learning experience. By designing a solution that works on all devices (Android, iOS, Web) from day one -we let the students experience a richer, collaborative learning experience.

Who are faces behind this startup?

CourseKart is co-founded by Vishal Chopra and Janak Agarwal.

Vishal Chopra and Janak Agarwal, Co-founders, CourseKart
Janak Agarwal and Vishal Chopra, Co-founders, CourseKart

A graduate of Wharton’s MBA program (2006) and Purdue M.S. (2000), Vishal has extensive technology, operational and business strategy experience with Sun Microsystems and IBM. At CourseKart, he is responsible for overall direction setting, business development and sales.

A graduate of USC M.S. program and NIT-Surat, Janak has worked in a variety of engineering and management roles at Microsoft (Seattle). At CourseKart, he is responsible for driving overall technology design and implementation.

How much time and money did you invest in this venture?

CourseKart is currently bootstrapped through founder funds and initial revenue flows. Founded in 2012, first version of minimum viable product was ready in August 2012.

Tell us about the revenue model of your startup.

Currently, we are working on a subscription-based model wherein the instructors pay for customization and usage of online services. For registered students with the instructors – the services are currently free. We are working on interesting monetization models to broaden the scope and footprint of services offered by our instructors across the entire nation.

What are the stats of your startup?

At present, we have more than 12,000 students across 50 Indian cities and 5 test-prep verticals – GATE, CA, Law, Bank-PO and commerce local boards examination preparation – are using CourseKart today to improve their learning outcomes.

Which challenges have you faced while converting your idea into reality?

Transitioning from well-defined corporate roles to the ambiguous world of entrepreneurship is never easy.

During the first year, we faced the usual set of startup challenges of ensuring sufficient liquidity, market validation and winning the first client. But the journey has been a great life lesson in what to do and equally what mistakes to avoid.

Which is the major challenge you are facing right now?

The greatest challenge has been in enabling the instructors to be digital ready. While there is increasing awareness and willingness to try out online learning models as a supplement to traditional classroom approach, the ramp-up time to get them activated is still a challenge.

What is failure according to you? Have you tasted it? If yes, share your failure story.

Failure is when an idea or concept doesn’t yield the desired results. Any venture – established or startup, experiences multiple failures, more so during its inception years. We encountered multiple points of failure – with specific client-sets who like the offering but simply refused to move on or even pickup our call!

It is quite disheartening when you come across such behavior. However, at such times – one needs to persevere and focus on the primary goal. Quite often the reasons were not related to the product at all – “We are busy with ongoing staffing or student admissions”, “We like it but are not ready yet..” were some underlying reasons that we discovered on further probing.

But as Einstein said – “A person who never made a mistake has never tried anything new”.

What’s your future plan?

We have some exciting goals setup for 2014. We are building the next set of collaboration and analytics features – for Content Users (students) and Content Owners (instructors and publishers) with a singular goal of positively impacting learning outcomes.

Additionally, we are also working on disruptive plays to realize our longer term goal of bringing access to the best test-prep instruction anytime, anywhere and any size – at your fingertips.

What’s your success mantra?

Believe in yourself and your idea. Build a minimum viable product or service that can be “pilot tested” with your target audience. Because nothing hurts like building a great product that nobody wants. Listen to your audience and constantly adapt and innovate.

What is Entrepreneurship according to you?

Entrepreneurship is a journey of self-discovery and fulfillment. It tests your commitment to the limit but rewards you plenty if you can persevere long enough. It helps you discover partners with shared goals and ambitions. And most importantly, it helps you realize what matters most and how to adapt to changing circumstances in your pursuit of your dreams.

Which message would you like to give to upcoming entrepreneurs?

You only live once and if you don’t take the chances and risk it when you have an opportunity, you may regret it for the rest of your life.

What do you think about is fun, engaging and informative! When dealing with diverse concepts such as E-Magazine, it becomes difficult to do justice to any particular vertical – be it Technology, Entertainment or Arts. But BuddyBits has done a bang up job in designing their User Interface, journalistic coverage and design elements, to ensure no user gets “lost” in the plethora of content on the site.

Kudos to BuddyBits. Keep charging ahead!

Well, thanks Vishal. We wish you all the very best for all your upcoming endeavors.