KOCHI: The magic of GUVI began in 2011. Arun Prakash, Sridevi and S P Balamurugan who had promising corporate careers with regular paychecks left their cushioned jobs and gave in to the startup fever. In case you’re wondering what GUVI stands for, it is to ‘Grab your vernacular identity’, which is exactly what this venture does.
The Chennai-based platform connects aspiring technologists with the corporate industries and addresses the skill-gap that is needed to work at an IT company. This is done by providing technical learning courses in vernacular languages through individually ideated mentorship programmes.
How the idea struck
On noticing how most of the colleges in Tier 3-6 cities lacked technical education, which is a disadvantage, they began GUVI as a volunteering activity while the trio was working at PayPal. “We started a YouTube channel where we taught students the technical aspects of what we do at work in their native language. Our content received over one million hits and 5,000 subscribers,” informs Balamurugan, the CEO of the firm.
After visiting colleges in the rural areas and realising the need for technical education in vernacular languages, the owners decided to turn the project into a full-fledged job. “People are used to physical learning. So getting them used to the idea of learning online was the first hurdle we faced,” says Arun, the CTO, who handles the technical aspects of the firm.
Each course by GUVI includes a series of videos with emphasis on practical-based learning, short notes, assignments and assessments. These video lectures are available in several languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Kannada. The platform boasts of more than 500 technical videos, with courses ranging from C++, Java, machine leaning, data structures and more.
“Technical learning in itself is a new thing, who are mostly used to soft skills training. There is also a huge gap between the curriculum at engineering colleges and what we use at the workspace,” says Sridevi. The team mainly tries to address the issue of learning with access to practical application.
Over 30,000 users
The videos are created by experts in the IT industry, and the platform has grown with over 30,000 users currently. GUVI has partnered with over 50 colleges across the country, and has a range of paid and unpaid courses. The learners have an activity-based profile, which the corporate firms are privy to. The courses learned are accounted for and the percentage of completion is displayed on the student’s page.
“This way, nobody can fake what they have studied. We complete the cycle, allow you to learn and showcase your progress. The recruitment is done by filtering profiles. Only the best candidates who are validated through our internal tests and assessments are recruited,” informs Arun.
The trio went on to elaborate how the best candidates might not be in the premiere institutes of the country. GUVI works on finding these students and connects them to a job that will fit their capabilities.
The trio boot-started the company with a capital of Rs 10 lakh and had an angel investor too. Funds were also incubated by IIT Madras’s Rural technology and business Incubator (RTBI), which rewarded them with an alumni grant of Rs 15 lakh. “Finances were a problem, especially in the initial days. The company started generating revenue only in 2015, which is nearly two and a half years after the company began operations. We have been able to stick with GUVI through the hard phases because we saw how many lives we were transforming through this venture,” Sridevi smiles.
According to reports by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and KPMG, the number of internet users in India who use the local language is growing at 47 per cent annually, with over 127 million users in 2015. In a world where the majority of the population prefers to use the internet in their native language, a platform like GUVI gives learners the much-needed push that they deserve.