Kamini Vidisha drank the most expensive coffee in her life during the first event that she organized as a part of launching her third startup, ACadru. It was in 2017. To socialize the philosophy ACadru, Kamini had organized a massive event by reached out to hundreds of potential clients and stakeholders. A good fortune of money had already been committed. “We had over 100 confirmed attendants. I wore my best dress and went to the event. I suppose I was early because no one was there. Hence, I ordered a cup of coffee while I waited. Well, to cut a long story short, not even a single person turned up for the event. I just had the most expensive coffee and came back. I was dejected,” recalls Kamini.
ACadru has come a long way since then. Kamini adds, “Our last event was packed to capacity. We had more than 150 people in attendance, and we had to reject many people who wanted to join in.” Kamini, a serial entrepreneur, is currently the founder of two startups. “The first venture was born out of a need for flexibility and creativity. After that I felt I have learnt a lot with every failure, and now I guess it is my passion to create a purpose-driven business,” shares Kamini. As an engineering graduate, Kamini has always been empathetic towards issues prevalent in the world. Previously teaching underprivileged children, she believes that imparting meaningful education can play a huge role in creating an impact.
Making of a Unique Learning Platform
The first startup of Kamini, UnivAdmitHelp, was a study abroad counselling arm of Anavi Learning (mother company). UnivAdmitHelp focused on providing mentorship and admission help to students by IVY League graduates. Kamini explains, “In this whole process, we do one-to-one mentoring with students to build strong profiles for admission to IVY League Colleges. Our experience with these mentees highlighted some recurrent issues that we answered through ACadru.” The mentees knew the coursebook contents very well but had little understanding of their application in a fast-changing world. There was a lack of focus on multi-disciplinary education in general.
Started in 2017, ACadru is a learning platform that gives access to multi-disciplinary online learning modules on unique topics. “Building a self-mentoring platform with multi-disciplinary topics that could help prepare students to know their options for jobs in the future. The topics in ACadru such as Art/Design in engineering, Real Science behind reel make-up, and Interpreting machine psychology are designed to highlight the connections across domains,” shares Kamini.
ACardu’s learning modules are a collection of blogs, videos, and journals from credible sources stitched together through a compelling narrative, giving the user access to the top-class content without corresponding higher costs. “All the modules are directed towards the jobs of the future and the upcoming industries which can create substantive employment opportunities in the future,” claims Kamini. Every learning module ACardu culminates into projects which allow for better understanding, curriculum extension, and practical learning. In turn, they allow learners and educators to tailor their education in a fun, efficient way to their specific needs.
Showcasing a variety of career options aligned with the user’s passion and challenges for the future, ACadru has quite a lot of significance behind its name. In Roman language ‘Cadru’ means compass. Kamini kept the name ACadru as she believes that her institute is a compass to the students, as it gives them a direction towards their career. Kamini adds, “We showcase career opportunities beyond the obvious ones. For example, when we talk about psychology, students and professionals tend to think of jobs available in clinical psychology, counselling, or teaching. In contrast, there are more jobs in technology, marketing, and branding for a psychology graduate.”
Though ACadru does not have any direct competitors right now, Kamini considers the plethora of online learning platforms to be of some competition. “We give our users access to top-class content without higher costs and help them shape their future in the industry, aligning them with the 21st-century Job-skills,” opines Kamini. ACadru provides modules that consist of projects and activities that help them to understand better and learn practically.
While the Pandemic Outbreak has been affecting businesses negatively, it has helped ACadru aggressively in soliciting customers. Kamini says, “While we have made the platform free for eager learners, we have seen tremendous traction. During the last few months, we have grown by over 100 per cent as everyone is moving towards online learning.” E-learning platforms have got tremendous traction these days. However, what needs to be seen is whether the gains from this emergency to ed-tech businesses are sustainable. “Unless the value that these platforms deliver to their clients is accretive and is a game-changer, the life will go back to normal, and their popularity might wane once the pandemic passes,” opines Kamini.
Growing and staying ahead of the curve, Kamini’s short-term goal is to increase the user base to 50,000 and 200+ learning modules. “We are also planning to capture some part of the user journey and suggest learning modules of their interest”, adds Kamini. In long-term, Kamini aims to reach 1000+ learning modules and at least over 5 million users before she starts testing the underlying AI logic.
With the Help of a Strong Support System
Kamini has always been an energetic person. She is very empathetic towards issues prevalent in the world and looks forward to addressing some in future. “I used to teach under-privileged children earlier. In a way, making an impact through meaningful education has always been a cherished belief for me.” Today, Kamini takes pride in saying that she has an All-Women-Team. “Each one of us takes complete responsibility for her work without any additional supervision. We work hard and have tons of fun, that’s where the magic happens,” adds Kamini. Interestingly, no one has left ACadru since its inception three years ago.
For Kamini, leadership starts in believing that everyone in her team is responsible-adults. “I ensure that there is no micro-managing and give the major stakeholders full responsibility with accountability,” says Kamini. She is also looking to ramp-up her team and go full-hog in the coming years as online learning spaces are going to be hand-in-hand with offline education institutes.
Helping her stay true to her goals, Kamini considers her brother, Nitin, to be a significant influence in her life. Kamini says, “He is instrumental in not only helping me articulate a long-term vision which is durable but has also helped me anchor my thinking in alignment with strategic imperatives for the business.” Kamini has also worked with Accenture for a couple of years, post which she did her Masters in Operations from Cardiff Business School. Recently, she spent a year at Harvard University. Kamini says, “My mother always taught me that there is no age to learn anything new, which makes me believe in learn, unlearn and relearn. It helps me to be relevant the challenging times too.”
Starting your own business is like raising a child; it needs all your focus and attention before it gradually settles down. Although it is challenging, you are driven by a bigger purpose, which gives you a lot of satisfaction. Advising all the budding entrepreneurs out there, Kamini concludes, “Sometimes you feel to give up, but my suggestion would be to stay on it till you can, and from every failure, you can always start afresh so don’t be scared of failures”.