Taking the leap from being a member of a corporation in the IT sector to becoming an entrepreneur managing your own projects, making your side hustle your main hustle, is a goal many of us have deep inside. Most of the time, we can’t even imagine the finish of our tale to be on a route that we could only imagine, but we end up doing what we’re intended to do, what gives us the most thrill.
Arun Jagannathan, a solopreneur in the EdTech industry, has a remarkable story of transitioning from being a corporate techie for over a decade to helping students ace competitive tests. In this interview, Arun shares his journey from the corporate world to the startup world and how he overcame various challenges with his strong vision and determination.
Growing up in Gujarat, India, Arun was surrounded by an entrepreneurial and business-oriented culture. He launched his own business in 1997, helping individuals build their websites while interning at a Cyber Cafe, where he was fascinated by the Internet and its world of possibilities. He later earned his Master’s degree in Computer Science from MS University and moved to Bangalore to work in the IT industry.
However, Arun’s passion for teaching began to surface when he started teaching during weekends. He recognised his natural talent for teaching and believed that he could simplify the process of passing exams like the CAT and GMAT. This led to his discovery of Pagalguy.com, a platform where he could answer questions and create discussions on cracking the Verbal section. Over time, he started conducting physical group sessions, providing free advice and support to students, and eventually started charging a nominal fee for an intensive boot camp.
“For my initial session, I taught six students who gave me extremely positive feedback. Despite not prioritising financial gain, I wanted to avoid giving the impression that the session was of lesser value just because it was free. I believed that this idea had the potential to be a highly valuable company, but I needed to find a way to revolutionise the market. I was eager to learn and willing to experiment as this was just a secondary source of income for me.”
In 2006, Arun decided to launch CrackVerbal, a full-time enterprise, while still working in his corporate job. He took a calculated risk and quit his job in 2011 after his wife resigned from her corporate job to join him in the business. They both worked hard to establish CrackVerbal as a corporation in 2012 and have been working as entrepreneurs for the past ten years.
According to Arun, the biggest disruption was the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced them to move their entire operation online. Despite the challenges, they continued to experiment and adapt to changes, as the GMAT and MBA markets are highly specialised and have capacity utilisation concerns.
In 2019, Arun was selected for a Stanford program that recognised and supported innovative EdTech startups. He credits his success to his unwavering confidence, fearlessness and believes that taking risks is the key to success. He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to have a strong vision, be open to learning, and never give up in the face of adversity.
“I would not have started my business if I anticipated it to pay me the same amount as my job. But I took a risk and produced an excel sheet with comprehensive planning, and even though I had a backup plan of returning to corporate if the firm failed, I wanted to focus on the main portion rather than having a safe escape. Venture investors supported Nothing; everything was self-funded. This demanded unshakable confidence and fearlessness. Confidence in believing I could do something innovative and fearlessness in knowing I could conquer any obstacle and keep going in the face of adversity.” Arun said.
Arun’s advice for MBA aspirants on PaGaLGuY is as follows:
- Asking a lot of questions, clear and correct ones, will open up a lot of doors.
- Participate in answering other people’s questions, which not only helps others but also improves your own communication and writing abilities.
- Follow and connect with individuals on the site, and communicate with those who share your interests. It significantly aids your growth.
Arun’s story is a testament to the power of following your passion and taking risks. He went from being a corporate techie to a successful entrepreneur and EdTech leader, and his unwavering confidence and fearlessness have been key to his success. He is an inspiration to all aspiring entrepreneurs and a reminder that anything is possible if you have the right mindset and determination.
Note for our readers: We at Pagalguy always strive to provide you with the most up-to-date and informative education news, student testimonials, and experiences. To stay informed about the latest on PG, subscribe to our newsletter.