As a nation-state with a young demographic, India’s ability to educate its youngsters properly will determine how effectively its citizens avail the opportunities presented by 21st century socio-economics. An education that’s focused on critical thinking and skill development will represent how each individual navigates a complex economy. With the arrival of the digital medium, venture builders ought to focus on long-term quality outcomes over quantitative short-term metrics.
When we look at the Indian education market, we see schools, colleges, competitive exams and enterprises focused on helping students navigate this system to the best of their ability. For a long time, guidance and awareness came at a premium, with the result being that students from tier-III, rural areas and specially-aided students had to make do with a maze of confusion and limiting opportunity. Not anymore. The availability of the internet has broadened the level-playing field for many students across the world. As enterprises continue to develop niches in the education segment, expect more builders to improve education and skills for millions of underserved students across the nation.
Today, at Bangalore Insider we spoke to Sachin Sardana, the COO and Co-founder of Dhurina. It is a venture focused on helping students prepare for state, regional and central level competitive exams. Largely focused on affordable education, it is looking to help students achieve their dreams in the best possible way. Below are the excerpts from our interaction.
Interaction Answers from Sachin Sardana, COO and Co- Founder of Dhurina
Give a brief info about your startup?
Dhurina was founded in June-2019 is an e-Learning platform for state, regional and central level competitive exams. With a focus on Tier-III, rural areas and specially-aided students, Dhurina provides affordable education and courses. It offers online learning courses on its mobile application for various state level and central level competitive exams and skill-development courses by the state-experts and from the best educators of the country. Headquartered in Fatehabad, Haryana, they are currently also operating with Rajasthan, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
Being exposed to the vulnerabilities such as lack of availability of quality content and training mechanism in Tier III and rural markets for competition exams, gave us an edge and served as a catalyst for delivering affordable, high quality learning and best technical infrastructure to Indian aspirants. A 3-month course fee ranges from as low as Rs. 100 to maximum Rs. 4000, depending on the syllabus of exams.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
My technical journey began in the Java domain and in 2014 started an IT company. I had an opportunity to start my own ventures – MobileGoo as a co-founder and an Advisor, Hello topper as a Strategy Officer and (DIP) Software Technologies Pvt Ltd.
My cofounder , Ajay Singh Rathore had worked as a Bank Probationary Officer in the State Bank of India and has served as a Co-Founding member of the Exam Block where his key responsibilities included providing offline study material to students.
Where is your startup based? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Our start-up is based in Fatehabad (Haryana). I hail from a small city and faced many challenges of being from a small city. So, I have experienced myself and now see many students not able to pursue their studies or passion due to the lack of resources or opportunities in that city.
I was keen to start my venture targeting students from small towns & cities. This way, we are able to contribute towards enhancing their learning and providing them opportunities in e-learning.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
As a start-up founder the only thing that scares me is whether we are moving in the right direction and whether our actions are aligned with our goals that we plan to achieve. Are we actually contributing to a greater good?
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
Our competitors include Shiksha.com, Testbook, Career Power, Entri, Pariksha, etc. After doing a detailed research of the ed tech industry, we came to the conclusion that there is a lot of information and adequate help when it comes to central level exams but no attention towards State level exam preparation, and even if there are sources, the students were not given much of an option to decide for themselves. We tried to make a difference regarding the same and have come up with a service that mainly focuses on the needs of aspirants of state examinations.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
It gets really hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance as we have to work on ourselves and others in the process of attaining our goals. Our responsibility as founders is not only limited to taking care of our work, we also have to be there for our team as and when they need help.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If not then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
Dhurina has raised 1.2 Mn USD in its Pre-Series (a round of funding) concluded at the end of 2021.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
For a long time, our competitors and audience doubted the quality of our content, mainly because of the prices that we provide our services at. Whereas in reality, we have onboard the best educators from all across the nation and our students are very happy with the content on our application.
What gets you excited about this company?
What gets me excited is the fact that we have been successfully able to achieve our goals till now and we all are working together towards our future. It gives us immense pleasure to see the change we are able to bring in the lives of our students.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
Working with people is a task in itself, managing a start-up means you have the responsibility to guide each and everyone in your team, provide them with guidance and direction when needed. We like to start each day by going over our schedules to make sure of any calls or meetings that are lined up for the day which is followed by a little check on our team and the goals they’ve achieved so far. During the daytime, we try to make sure we finish our meetings and calls and any social interactions necessary. Before leaving, I take a follow up from my team for the day.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
We had the idea of this start-up in our mind and we were all aspirants of some or the other competition exam in Haryana. Having faced the same problems in our student life, the four of us namely Ajay Singh Rathore, Sachin Sardana, Murari Singh and Sanjay Singh decided to work on something that is pocket friendly and has real help for students with scarce resources.