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Date: 31st January 2018
Category: Communicate 98 Features  

NischalNarayanam is the youngest Double Guinness World Record holder in the field of memory, a national child award recipient from APJ Abdul Kalam, performer of ‘GanithaAvadhanam', and the youngest CA of the nation. He's put his passion into entrepreneurship and started his own company ‘Nischal's Smart Learning Solutions Pvt. Ltd' whose products are one of a kind.

1. From a 'Double Guinness world record holder', '7 brilliant brains of the world' to an entrepreneur. How did the transition happen?

I was very passionate towards math since I was a kid. When I was 8 years old, I was playing around with my dad and noticed his accounts, where I identified a small calculation error in the statement to which my parents ignore saying that it's computer generated and there is no scope for errors. The next day they realized that it was an error during an audit. So they started getting me trained in different methodologies of mathematics that are practised across the world.

When I was in class 5, my geometry teacher explained about 2D and 3D shapes. As drawing a cube is more difficult than drawing a square or rectangle, my friends couldn't draw it in their books. I came home and asked my mom if there were any models or lab equipment for mathematics as we have for the sciences. We went to the market but realized that we couldn't find anything other than a geometry box. That's when I decided that we should design and develop a math lab on our own.

Exactly a year later, I launched a curriculum based math lab where every concept from grades 1st to 10th can be taught with the help of innovative tools, models, and equipment where we can prove what we learn as we do in the sciences. This was a revolutionary product as it was India's first math lab for which I received the National child award from the President Abdul Kalam.

After this product got launched, we went on to start the education company Nischal's smart learning solutions and we launched our math lab not just in India but in international markets as well. We've received a tremendous response for this product which was the inception for my entrepreneurial journey.

2. How did you deal with the Indian education sector and how did you network with schools to get this product launched?

To deal with stakeholders in any field and to sell your product there are 3 ground rules:

  1. What are you doing and why are you doing it?
  2. What is the gap that you're addressing innovatively?
  3. What is the value proposition that they are creating that your competitors didn't?

When we approached NCERT, I clearly explained all the above. Through my micro and portable labs of math and sciences, a teacher can teach the complete syllabus in just 75 days while it currently takes 220 days. This leaves time for 2 complete revisions.

After receiving the NCERT accreditation, our next goal was to make a mark on state boards and the private sector. Private schools focus more on teaching methodology and technical aspects and the government schools additionally focus on the finances and expect it to be cost-effective. For private schools, we set up our distributors in different states to market our product which was a 2-year process and now, we have a presence in 14 states in both sectors.

Dealing with other countries is altogether a different story due to the varied dynamics of the market by geography. For example in Qatar, the world's richest country, they don't compromise on quality. Our after-school learning centre courses cost INR 5000 for an hour. But back home in Bihar, we charge the same amount for one year of courses. We were flexible enough to customize our strategy according to the market.

3. What are your thoughts on being a genius vs. being a successful entrepreneur?

Being smart is a personal trait.Though I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur, I wanted to run a unique research-driven, innovative company. First, if you have an idea and an end purpose, you should be smart enough to even know how to drive it.

Having a good idea is just 10% of the whole process. Execution is something more important. There will be thousands of ideas in the world, but why doesn't every idea come to fruition? There might be many reasons for this -wrong planning, execution, wrong team etc.

Getting an idea, reaching the market, meeting product designers, developing a prototype, creating a commercial product, marketing it, and then impacting other lives. Only if all this is done is when you achieve the true purpose. Respect this sequence, first learn then earn.

I don't believe in good or bad ideas, its only good or bad management. Even the stupidest ideas become good companies if managed in the right way and the brightest ideas might not be successful if managed badly. How well we execute and transform the idea into reality, the support we need to complete the process is important. I've stuck to these basics in a perennial cycle which helped me reach my goals:

  • Have a long-term vision by having short-term plans
  • For marketing, always follow 4Ps: PRICE, PRODUCT, PROMOTION, PLACE
  • Do a SWOT analysis
  • Have the right team

4. What are your future plans?

Our products are more of physical and hands on, we want to make it digital, that'sFigital! For the first time ever in the world we are developing 3D e-books with Augmented Reality. More than 500 animation designers are working on this product. A student can perform all the lab activities with these augmented reality and 3D simulation on their electronic device itself through virtual classes!

- Edited and compiled by Sindhusha

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