How A Young Writer Of 21 Is Helping Scale-up An Edtech Portal
At 21, Neha Daraad is the co-founder of Campus Varta, an edTech portal that features sections related to education across the country. It is also working towards digitization of rural schools wherein technology will revolutionize the way rural kids gained knowledge. Neha shares the start-up’s journey and what are the plans afoot to solve more problems surrounding education in India.
I have always been somebody who likes to try my hand at various things. I studied Fashion Designing at NIFT, Patna. But, later on, found myself wanting to write. I submitted to that calling. Soon after, I took up Political Science. In 2016, I also became a published author of the book titled ‘Always Be Mine’. Fashion, Politics, and Writing...were all extremely fulfilling experiences, my heart soon went out seeking something more. Something new.
It was in 2017 that I met the Founder of the startup, Ranjan Mistry. He had founded Campus Varta the same year with an aim to help students in their education-related efforts. He himself has faced challenges in his education that led to shunting of his dreams.
I immediately joined Campus Varta because the idea felt close to my heart. I worked in various capacities at the start-up - as a Business Development professional, as the Editor of the web content, etc. I am now designated as the Co-founder of the startup as I have taken full charge of ensuring that the startup flourishes and it scales higher. I am enjoying my job as an entrepreneur. I like exploring different dimensions. It’s challenging and helps me embark on a new horizon.
On many occasions, people ask me how does my family and people around me receive the idea of me helping run a startup. My answer has always been that everyone has been highly supportive and encouraging. Although a small capital comparatively, Patna has welcomed the idea of the startup with an applause.
Stepping into Co-founder’s shoes...
Campus Varta was established with an aim to be a media portal for campus affairs and news related to the education sector. However, we decided we must expand. So, one of the key elements that we brought in is that of rural education. This is what is probably my most significant contribution as the Co-founder.
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Empowering the villages of India...
Now Campus Varta has yet another aim - to bring an innovation in rural education with the help of technology. Tech, we all know, is empowering. Some of the ways in which we wish to utilize technology to better the education in the rural segment are by providing rural schools with an access to the internet. Once there is access to the web, the schools could have, say, for instance, a computer lab. In short, we are in the process of digitization of schools. This could bring about a revolution in the way the rural students are learning and understand their subjects.
But this is also where the real challenge lies. The remote areas are unfamiliar with any use of technology. Neither do they use technology nor do they want to. It is not easy to educate the rural population about the importance of technology. We have to first make the authorities in rural areas understand how education when coupled with technology, could better their children's future. Often we are received as people who have some fraudulent scheme. The rural school authorities say “yeh sab toh fraud hota hain…” Anything that is online is non-trustworthy for them. It is only the physical world that they believe in.
I recall an anecdote - during a recent visit to a remote area, the population was so technically challenged that even to hold a phone was an act cut out straight from a Science Fiction movie. I was trying to get the seniors acquainted with the technology and the fact that it is genuine. I gave them my phone and asked them to use it. They were flabbergasted. This is how well our rural population identifies with the power of tech. First, the foundation has to be laid. Only after that, will these schools accept the concept of digitization.
Know your teacher...
Yet another feature that we plan to incorporate on our website is that of uploading teachers’ profiles. One of the sections on the portal lists the colleges in India. Along with that, we wish to upload teachers’ profiles. That’ll help students know their teachers better, and it will also assist them in making admission choice. We are in the process of collecting professional data of several teachers. For instance, we have collaborated with Patna University for acquiring their teachers’ details. The idea is to cover the entire country. To begin with, we have Bihar on our list. As we move forward, we will cover various states. The team is planning a phase-wise phase expansion.
The perils of being with a startup...
Headquartered in Patna, the startup is bootstrapped. We are a small office of ten to twelve members. Since we are in an early stage, I cannot draw a salary from the company. That is why I take up work by the side. I earn my salary from the writing assignments that I undertake.
On many occasions, people ask me how does my family and people around me receive the idea of me helping run a startup. My answer has always been that everyone has been highly encouraging.
The learning that comes from being an entrepreneur is incredible. I now know how the world functions. Actually, knowing would be a bold word, I am now getting to know the ways in which this world moves. As the co-founder of Campus Varta, I am, of course, expected to contribute to developing the business. However, the contribution, the job of being a Co-founder has had in my life is far more rich and everlasting.
S*****You are very creative and motivationl girl