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Arjun GuptaCEO of Firstventure Corporation Published On: Monday, September 19, 2016 Views 1102

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"Excellence is doing ordinary things, extraordinarily well."

In India, when it comes to the count of the demand and supply of jobs, numbers are huge. Yet, the outcome of this huge workforce doesn’t go proportionately with that number. Arjun Gupta realized this gap, and figured that the missing piece of puzzle is the lack of training and education that employees face at corporates in India.

To address the concern, Arjun Gupta came up with Courseplay, an online platform that offers e-learning solution for the employees of organizations of all sizes. Courseplay helps organizations bring down their cost of training and multiply their training capacity by making the entire process efficient by taking it online. Courseplay is the property of Firstventure Corporation Private Limited, an up-and-coming privately-funded education-technology company founded in March 2012 by Arjun, headquartered in Mumbai, India.

Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.

At our core is a SaaS offering called Courseplay, a cloud-based corporate training platform that works across all devices. Courseplay is simply an edtech or e-learning solution for organizations. Our service is a way for small, medium or large companies and organizations to bring down the cost of training, multiply training capacity and engage with learners. We’re working with companies ranging from 50 employees to 6,000 employees to deliver a hassle-free training platform that reduces the administrative burden and allows organizations to focus on learning.

What inspired you to build the above product/ service?

Back in 2011, I found that there was plenty of scope for training and education in India but there was no truly scalable solution. If you look at the growth of our economy, or the supply or demand of jobs, they are all huge numbers. I truly believe the missing piece of the puzzle is in training and education. I felt like there was scope for a solution that can take care of this problem and that’s when Courseplay was born.

What is your life mantra?

When I decide to pursue something, I don’t think about who is going to let me do it. The question is rather ‘who is going to stop me’. I think Ayn Rand is credited with originally having this mantra. Another noteworthy philosophy I follow is to “get out of the building” which is an idea that the brilliant Steve Blank came up with. It’s not to be taken literally. What he meant was that if you’re starting something new, get out of your comfort zone and speak to people and get their inputs on whether they are willing to line up to pay for it.

What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?

One challenge we have been consistently facing since we started operations is in changing the mindset that our platform takes away jobs from instructors and trainers. They think that all the training will happen online and they will become redundant, and because of this there is sometimes a feeling of resistance when we meet clients. The challenge has been in letting these people know that we’re not taking away their jobs but rather transforming it to be more focused on training and innovation.

How did you overcome those challenges?

We made it very clear that our platform works really well with the ‘blended learning’ approach, where some of the training is conducted online and a lot of the problem solving happens in face-to-face interactions. In addition we showcased case studies where the training team shifted focus from administrative activities to creating engaging content which was to be delivered both online and offline. All of the clients we have worked with have actually increased the size of their training team after signing up with us. We get much better responses now.

Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.

We’re privately funded at the moment but I’d say our biggest investments come from our clients who invest their faith in us.

According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?

The ability to adapt, guts, and being there at the right place at the right time.

Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?

Google Apps for Work: Absolutely essential for our team. Microsoft also has a good alternative. Makes email, collaborating, and organizing very easy.

Trello: A very versatile tool that we use for managing tasks as well as a makeshift CRM. Highly recommended.

Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.

Getting enough sleep. People take it for granted. People think that sleep is for lazy people. If I get at least 8 hours of sleep I have more energy the next day, am sharper and get more done than if I get less than 7 hours.

Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.

Smiling more around the office. I have developed a reputation of being “too serious”.

Answer in less than 50 words

One tip to success:

Get out of your comfort zone.

One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:

Change jobs too frequently. People don’t understand how much this ruins careers.

One most important lesson that you have learnt till now:

Set a goal and a target date and stick to it, even if it isn’t perfect. You can always improve it later.

What are your plans for next 3 years?

Grow the business in terms of industry and geography. We’re working on some exciting features and very innovative technology and I’d like to see our clients delighted by what we come up with.

If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?

Start with a trustworthy co-founder. Being the sole founder is a tough job and I wouldn’t recommend it.

What are your top three getaway destinations?

Landour (it’s next to Mussoorie in Uttarakhand, India) Leh/Ladakh, Kashmir, India (I went 10 years back and still think about it) Goa, India (a classic)

Share a quote that inspires you the most.

“We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.” – JFK

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