HYDERABAD: Many of us may be busy chasing job offers from reputed companies after pursuing an MCA degree, but not if you are Raju Vanapala. Raju ducked the routine job search and instead focused on hunting down on that one idea that would make his maiden entrepreneurial stint a successful journey. In 2004, along with two of his cousins, he floated Way2online Interactive India Pvt Ltd, whose flagship product -- Way2SMS -- allows users to send free SMSes to family and friends. “At that time, e-mail marketing was just gaining ground and we soon realised that there’s a potential if we can replicate the same with SMS,” recalls Raju, Founder CEO, Way2online Interactive. Initially, Way2- SMS started sending mass messages via mobiles for banking and other corporate customers. “But the breakthrough came in when the service was extended to common users... it was runaway success,” says Raju. Way2SMS allows registered users to not only send text messages to multiple receivers but also sms greetings, schedule messages to be delivered at a certain time and date in case you are travelling besides others.
The decade-old-firm, which also claims to be the second largest e-mail marketing company, achieved break even in 2011 and has been registering profits consistently. For FY15, its turnover stood over Rs 40 crore. Currently, it counts over 45 million registered users and gets revenue from online advertisements. “In fact, the success of my first venture prompted me to float another startup -- LearnSocial.com,” he explains. According to him, LearnSocial is an online marketplace that brings together educational institutes, universities, individuals to impart and seek skill-oriented courses. “As per Gartner Research, the India education system is worth a whooping $130 billion. Even if 10 per cent of this translates to online content, that’s a huge market to tap,” says Raju. The 10-month-ol d LearnSocial, solely founded by Raju with an investment of $1 million, primarily offers a platform for learners and instructors thereby enabling a two-way communication. Instructors prepare a course module and make it available either at a cost or freely for users to access.
If the course has a price tag, Learnsocial gets a portion of the fee everytime a user enrols in that programme. “Currently, we have 6-7 broad categories and we are seeing traction from professionals, mostly willing to learn emerging technologies,” he says adding that 60-70 per cent of the traffic comprises professionals. One of the interesting takeaways from Learn- Social includes peer advantage allowing users to share and learn from respective sectors by sharing articles, live video lectures, problem solving, online discussions, and networking. It intends to have a user-base of over 40,000 including institutes, universities and individuals from the current 15,000 shortly. Of this 15,000, over 2,000 are paid enrolments. The platform currently offers 200 courses and is adding 20 new courses. “For now, the idea is to bridge the gap between academic learning and skill-based requirements by industry,” he says.