There are numerous institutions and training centres across the nation. But Purple Leap is trying to walk the extra mile to cover the academia-industry disconnect. Amit Bansal, co-founder of PurpleLeap throws some light on the disconnect and his strategy
There are numerous institutions and training centres across the nation. But Purple Leap is trying to walk the extra mile to cover the academia-industry disconnect. Amit Bansal, co-founder of PurpleLeap throws some light on the disconnect and his strategy to fill the gap, in a conversation with Franchise India Media.
Shambhavi Anand (SA): When and how did PurpleLeap come into being?
Amit Bansal (AB): Amit Bansal, Hemant Somani, Vinay Nijhawan and Chandrashekhar Shetty founded PurpleLeap in early 2006. The problem of academia-industry disconnect is well documented now. When the four of us were working in our corporate lives, we had a first-hand experience of the magnitude of the problem. It used to take us about 4 to 6 months to train and prepare a fresher to hit the floors. And our colleagues in other companies also had similar problems. When we looked at the problem critically, we realised that it is not just the outdated curriculum that causes this problem. The real issue is the availability of quality teachers/trainers. Availability implies both geographical presence as well as affordability.
Also, there was a need for a player who can deliver complete solution around talent management. Essentially, someone who can assess the talent, identify skill-gaps against specific entry-level roles, provide structured programs to make students ready for those roles, certify the talent and then eventually liaison with the corporate for the absorption of this talent. To address this wide-spread problem of students not being able to meet the expectations of the industry, we decided to come up with a solution that delivers quality education at an affordable price. Hence, PurpleLeap was initiated that delivers complete entry-level talent management solutions by leveraging technology to deliver quality at scale.
(SA): What are the programs offered by PurpleLeap?
(AB): PurpleLeap programs are designed to make students ready for entry-level roles across the industry. The programs cover technical, functional and business skills. The students go through a structured program that makes them ready in terms of the said skills.
The programs are divided into three categories:
(SA): Given that there are already so many educational systems and training institutes what motivated you to take up the concept?
(AB): Even though there are training institutes across the country, we still do not have a solution to the problem of “workplace ready” professionals. We believe that our current approach is a disruptive intervention to current practices and will provide the necessary solution to this problem.
(SA): How did you go about funding your startup?
(AB): The first six months were funded through our own money. Once we got the model in shape, we raised about $150,000 through angel funding. After about 1.5 years of operation, we got a strategic funding of $2.5 million from Educomp Solutions limited.
Fund-raising is a long process and one needs to plan well.
(SA): What challenges did you face as a start-up? Did your family support you?
(AB): We faced all the typical challenges that most start-up organisations face---cash crunch, finding the first few customers, finding the right people for building the team, keeping afloat during the recessionary phase of 2008.
Family support is important to tide over the first few years when the business model is still evolving and the chances of failure are quite high.
In our case, the biggest asset was the way the founding team worked together. We are fortunate to have a great core team that works great at the workplace and beyond.
(SA): Which colleges and corporate companies have you partnered with to get your students placed?
(AB): As per the October, 2009 data, we have existing relationships with 60 colleges across Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, and Haryana. We will be present in over 100 colleges by the end of this year. On the corporate front, we have relationships with large, mid-sized and small organisations. The total number of such corporate relationships is over 100.
(SA): What are your plans for expansion? What challenges do you expect in the future?
(AB): We are planning to expand across domains and across geographies. We will be present in about 500 institutes across engineering, technical graduation schools and business schools.
We are facing the typical challenges that a high growth organisation does while climbing up the J curve. We want to ensure that we keep delivering high value to our existing customers as we keep adding more.
(SA): What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?
(AB): Entrepreneurship is a marathon that requires you to run like a sprint. It can be extremely satisfying and quite tiring at the same time. Be willing to have a long innings.
The second piece of advice is that you should be committed to the success of your business. You may (and most probably will) have a detour in the business idea as you move along. However, it is important for you to keep the focus on the business success and not on the idea. Be willing to change course as the business demands.