Unemployment and underemployment are the two major problems facing India. According to the private economic think tank CMIE data, as of February 2019, there were as many as 31.2 million youth actively looking for jobs and this rate of unemployment is the highest seen in India in at least the last 20 years. As per Times of India report, 3,700 Ph.D holders, 28,000 PGs and 50,000 graduates have applied for 62 posts of messengers in UP police. Similarly in Rajasthan, 129 engineers, 23 lawyers, one chartered accountant and 393 post graduates were interviewed for jobs of peons. Contrary to increasing rate of unemployment, there are plenty of jobs available for the people with the right skills that are required by the dynamic and fast-changing industries.
In today’s technologically advanced digital era, there are numerous ways for the students to equip themselves with the industry-required skills. But lack of personalised guidance makes it difficult and confusing for the students to choose the appropriate resources and services for their education, skills and careers needs. Well, what if we told you that there is a platform, which not only gives the personalised guidance to the students but also provides appropriate resources and services?
Inventiva brings you an exclusive interview from M. Sadiq Sait, who is the Founder and CEO of a wonderful platform, uLektz.com, which helps address the problem of underemployment and unemployment of fresh graduates in India.
uLektz is designed to be the Operating System for higher education. It provides SaaS-based white-labelled ERP mobile apps to colleges and universities for learning and campus management, and helps connect students and educators across institutions for social and professional networking. By using Artificial Intelligence (AI), uLektz profiles its members and offers them 360 degree personalised guidance and appropriate resources and services for education, skills and careers through its built-in Marketplace.
1. What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
2. Who is your target Audience/clients?
Students, Educators and Institutions of Higher Education are our target audience.
3. Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
We are head-quartered in Chennai, SaaS hub of India. Currently, we are focusing Indian market. However, we do have plans to enter into South East Asian Countries (Philippines and Indonesia to start with) and North African Markets in the near future.
4. What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
We aim to address the problem of underemployment and unemployment of fresh graduates by providing a suite of apps for all the higher education needs. Currently, we have 9 products such as uLektz Connect, uLektz Campus, uLektz Books, uLektz Videos, uLektz Skills, uLektz Preps, uLektz Interns, uLektz Jobs and uLektz News.
5. Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it come to existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
In my previous organisation, we used to offer technological solution and services to various foreign colleges and universities to help them drive academic effectiveness and enhance education.
Considering the increasing challenges of underemployment and unemployment of fresh graduates in India, my co-founder and I decided to contribute our global experience and expertise in EdTech and founded uLektz in the year 2016 to help colleges and universities in India to stay ahead of education transformation challenges and prepare students for global competition.
6. Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
uLektz is a first-of-its-kind SaaS-based platform designed to be the operating system for higher education. uLektz is like ZOHO for Education. It provides a suite of apps or products ranging from Learning Management System, Educational ERP and Social Learning Platform to apps offering resources and services for Education, Skill Development and Careers.
Each of our products have multiple competitors, who address one or two specific needs of students, educators or institutions. Availability of too many solutions makes it confusing and difficult for the students to choose the right one, and access them from multiple portals and apps using different login credentials. All of our products can be accessed from One App and One User Account.
7. How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us something about your co-founder/s
My co-founder Mr. Ratnakumar Bikkani was my boss and mentor at my previous organisation. He is a successful serial entrepreneur with over 40 years of experience in Aerospace technologies, EdTech, eLearning and ePublishing and he is passionate about helping improve higher education so that students are job ready.
8. How did you hire your first team members? What skills do you want in your employees/team?
The core team of uLektz is from my previous organisation AEL Data Services, an EdTech company offering technological solutions and services to foreign colleges, universities and educational publishers.
When I hire for uLektz, I look for candidates with the willingness to take initiatives and learn new skills, and who are passionate about creating a positive social impact.
9. What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
Currently, we are focussed to help the higher education market in India. In the next 2 years, we plan to offer our services to other developing countries in South East Asia and MENA region.
10. Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
We want to be the Unicorn startup of Higher Education helping create educated, skilled and productive workforce globally.
11. What are your immediate goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
We being a young startup, currently we have more than 200,000 students and educators from 500+ colleges and universities using our platform. We are working to accelerate our growth and achieve a target of 2 million users over the next 12 months.
12. Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
Currently, we are bootstrapped and started generating revenue. To accelerate our growth and achieve the set targets, we plan to go for VC funding.
13. What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
Except me with the experience in SaaS-based products company Zoho, all of my core team members come with the experience of project management. So, managing product development was initially challenging for them. To address this problem, I used to arrange formal and informal training sessions for my team with my ex-colleagues having strong product management experience. It helped changing the mindset of the team and improved their efficiency.
14. What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
uLektz being a first-of-its-kind platform addressing different needs of all the stakeholders of higher education, it has been a challenge to position the product or refer a specific competitor. To address this challenge, we started positioning individual product separately by addressing specific set of audience.
15. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I like watching science fiction movies and spending time with my family.
16. Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
I believe that we have something to learn from everyone. So, I don’t consider anyone as my idol. However, my passion for education and inspiration from ex-company Zoho have been my biggest motivators.
17. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
In my opinion, entrepreneurs dream and innovate, and employees help entrepreneurs make their dream real and take the innovation to the target consumers.
18. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Every part of my life has been a good learning experience. I believe that I had taken the best of decisions that were to be taken in those situations. So, instead of starting my career over again, I would prefer to continue this challenging journey.
19. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
I’ve always put my best to ensure a work-life balance. My family understands my goals and it has been a big support for me. I was never given to feel that either my family or social life is affected by my entrepreneurial journey.
20. Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
From my little experience, I believe that every entrepreneurial journey will have its own challenges and time-line. So, let us not compare ourselves with any other entrepreneurs. If we focus, commit and follow our passion, we will succeed.
21. Tell us something about your education & family background.
I’m a computer science graduate with MBA and M.Phil. in Business Management. Being a first-generation graduate from humble family background, every part of my career has been a challenging and learning experience.
22. What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains.
Our USP is providing a one-stop solution for all the higher education needs through a suite of seamlessly integrated apps accessible using one user account with BYOD and offline support.
23. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
Impatience is one of the biggest threats to the success of small businesses and start-ups. I believe that if we continue to improve our offerings and remain patient, we will succeed.
24. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Yes, I consider myself successful especially the journey I had with uLektz. There were many doubts and hesitations in the beginning but as I travelled on this path, I am increasingly feeling that we’re addressing a real problem. The interactions I had with educators are increasingly building my confidence and I am measuring the success with every new student and educator we are adding to our platform.
25. Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person
Founder & CEO
Mobile: +91-98407 21288
Entrepreneur, EdTech Consultant, Product Manager and Marketer with over 15 years of experience in IT industry. Sadiq focuses on the overall growth and strategy, operations, team building and strategic partnerships at uLektz. He is a computer science graduate with MBA and M.Phil. in Business Management.
Co-founder & Chairman
Mobile: +91-99400 57511
A serial entrepreneur with over 40 years of experience in space technologies, EdTech, eLearning and ePublishing. He oversees entire business operations and mentors the management team on business growth and strategy.
No. 100, Lake View Estate,
Kundrathur Main Road, Porur,
Chennai – 600 116. Tamil Nadu. India.