For far too long, many individuals have baled the ‘system’ behind the critical shortage of skills and learning outcomes in India’s school and graduate passouts today, yet seldom are the ‘system’s’ gaps clearly highlighted and policies put forth in place to address the same. The onus of education in India has been taken up whole-heartedly by the private sector and the onus of ensuring that India’s upcoming generations develop into the citizens of tomorrow is being taken up by the private sector with renewed zeal and vigour.
With the amount of knowledge being generated in the world of ours today, it is heartening to note that India’s entrepreneurs are going all out to address as many gaps in India’s education system as they possibly can. They’re addressing technical challenges faced by industry giants, they’re addressing India’s huge school grade education ecosystem, they’re addressing India’s entrance test segment, yet seldom do we find companies channel their energies towards helping youngsters sharpen their communication skills, a soft-skill made all the more important owing to the challenges faced by many in expressing their ideas and concepts clearly.
Today, at Bangalore Insider we met the founder of the Confident Communicator, a start-up whose aims to empower India;s next generation of fluent thinkers and communicators. Below are the excerpts from our interaction.
Give a brief info about your startup?
The Confident Communicator is a communication and soft skills training organization whose mission is to empower kids and young adults to discover and chase their dreams with Confidence.
Our education system is still plagued with pedantic, rote-learning, pedagogic structures not equipped to impart the soft skills required for all-round development and growth of young minds. It doesn’t recognize nor facilitate the need for emotional leadership, and rarely encourages out-of-box thinking.
The founders of The Confident Communicator, Sima and Deepma wanted to build a safe space for kids to build confidence, learn and practice communication skills, and most importantly be comfortable with failure. They believe that kids who know how to fail and get back up are the ones who will succeed at life!
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
We expect our youngsters to be smart, confident, extroverted, be leaders and go-getters and have varied interests and hobbies that make their college applications look sharp. Yet we don’t do the most basic thing that will ensure that success! We don’t accept them for who they are, we don’t help them embrace failure or teach them how to learn from it. We compare them with overachievers and expect them to follow suit. We want them to be champions yet we don’t become theirs. Every start-up begins with a vision. Bill Gates’s vision was a computer on every desk and in every home, Disney’s vision was to make people happy, Nike’s vision, if you have a body then you are an athlete. At The Confident Communicator, our vision is to empower every child to believe in themselves and always be their champion in their individual journey.
In the 21st century, pure academic excellence cannot be the sole differentiator among young graduates. Students will need to adapt to new age challenges, to be able to redesign and reinvent themselves, and to be resilient especially in the post pandemic world. Confidence, Communication, Empathy, Leadership, Collaboration are all learnable skills – we seek to start teaching and developing these at a young age – so they become second nature as the generation of today takes on the future!
How do we prepare our children to face those challenges?
Every course developed by The Confident Communicator seeks to empower each student to develop the soft skills required to shape them into effective leaders, communicators and critical-thinkers. Our ultimate goal is to create empathetic, innovative, articulate, and self-motivated individuals.
Every lesson is imparted through a mix of games, activities, assignments and in-class practice. We all learn best while having fun and with hands-on practice of any new skill, so each session is meticulously designed to develop the malleable intelligence, a growth mindset and a strong sense of self-worth that is so critical to success in the 21st. Century.
The Pandemic has taught us so many valuable lessons, and forced us to re-evaluate everything we took for granted. Families that were hard pressed for time are being forced to spend time with each other, roles in families are being modified and upgraded, organizations have learned to adapt new ways to execute their plans and strategies, customers are being wooed differently; ideas and innovations, creativity and reinventions are resurfacing, reskilling and upskilling has become the norm. Education has gone online, social interaction has become precious. Birds are chirping more, nature is breathing once again. We no longer can afford to take our lives for granted. Going back to the way we lived before is no longer an option! At The Confident Communicator, we have always recognized that our children must be more resilient, more adaptable, and have the grit and balance required to be comfortable with failure yet not complacent about it.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
The Founders held jobs in Marketing, Human Resource Management and Corporate Training both in India and the USA, before embarking on their journey in the education space here in India.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
The Confident Communicator is based out of Bangalore, India, a city that offers an encouraging environment for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. It also happens to be where both the founders live!
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
We’re so passionate about our courses and products, and believe that every child needs a champion. We want to be that champion recognising the unique capabilities of every child. We know that we can help kids become articulate communicators, reach their potential, and become the confident leaders they are meant to be. So, what keeps us up at night, is the question of how can we expand our reach to provide these opportunities to every child who needs them.
In the movie Schindler’s List when the war ends, Oskar Schindler’s factory workers present him with a gold ring with an inscription, a Talmud expression which says, “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” But we see Schindler heartbroken questioning if he could have done more.
That is our biggest fear – are we doing enough to equip every child with the tools and techniques they will need to face challenges, grab opportunities, and build connections using technology and empathy wisely and in ways our generation hasn’t even dreamed of yet?
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
Most of our competitors focus on short term results based on one or more skills. However, the 5 C approach at The Confident Communicator (viz Confidence, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication) builds resilience, strong communication skills along with empathetic leadership. This ensures that every training program is based on holistic development of crucial life skills for students to become the best version of themselves.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
The Confident Communicator is a labour of love! Our families and children are equally vested in our business. When one is lucky enough to do what they’re passionate about – work never feels like work!
We learn in physics that when applied force is zero, work is zero. Life at The Confident Communicator is the same. We love what we do, we are passionate about our program and our vision. We impact lives. We don’t feel we have to work hard at it. As a start-up founder our work-life balance gets continuously rejuvenated and recharged by our customer testimonials, confident smiles of our students and gratitude in a parent’s eyes. Our families support our passion. We are blessed!
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.
No – at the moment, we are an entirely self funded company and are not looking to raise funds.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
When people hear about us they assume we’re a “Public Speaking” company. While public speaking is one of the skills that we enable our students to develop – it is not all we do. Our philosophy digs far deeper – using public speaking, articulation, goal setting and empathy while developing excellent communication skills – in order to become a more confident human being.
There is a perception that confidence is in-born and that being extroverted guarantees success. That is far from the truth. For an individual to be successful they also have to be great listeners, they need to be empathetic, they need to inspire others while being humble. Humility comes from inner confidence. The ability to view oneself as valuable. Our programs certainly use public speaking as a tool to build that inner confidence and self-worth but is so much more than that. Our approach is holistic and we communicate with our students with the desire to understand them better. Our children need to embrace challenges posed to them in the 21st century, but they can do that only if they see themselves as valuable assets to the world.
What gets you excited about this company?
When we see the inherent potential of a child emerge, and the joy that the transformation brings to the student – is when we experience immense gratitude, delight and professional fulfillment.
It takes a village to raise a child. Our tribe is growing and our customers are seeing value in our philosophy. The pandemic forced us to go online which meant that we can reach more and more students! We’ve grabbed the opportunity and the excitement is palpable!
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.
We are no different than any other moms. We fuss, worry and take care of our families. But we are also on a mission to empower others. A typical day starts with a new idea, better method of teaching, inching closer to that philosophy and a lot of learning. As we grow, our job requires us to inspire others to join and support our cause. Zoom meetings, discussions, classes, schedules and interaction with creative folks consume our day. In between we cater to our own children and families, solving problems, planning meals and watching Netflix. Most nights, we go to bed feeling grateful for another fruitful day.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
A dream team springs out of shared values, ideas and philosophies. And when two women, two mothers, two friends who have known each other for over 30 years exchange those ideas over copious cups of tea, a story emerges. Female partnering is critical to strengthening the world. When women collaborate and support each other and reverse the stereotype, we prove that we can be great entreprenuers whilst being fantastic moms, partners and daughters. Women have always struggled with self-doubt, apologizing for just being a mom, or just being a housewife, or having to choose between career and family. Our team is women-led, and woman centric – and we couldn’t be prouder! What’s more, we’ve been incredibly lucky to have garnered support from all of the men and women who have heard our story and been part of our journey.
Know a great startup story or want to share your own? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you. For more updates follow Bangalore Insider on Facebook and Instagram.