As an alumnus of IIM Calcutta, Mr. Rupesh Shah, is a very creative and assiduous individual. His passion lies in leveraging Open Source based content and technology for Education. Rupesh always wanted to impart knowledge and share his experience with others and this is what motivated him to create educational solutions that focus on creating content that is innovative and one of its kind in its approach. He is very fervent about his new venture (InOpen Technologies) and intends to revolutionize the way computer training is imparted to students at schools. Before InOpen Rupesh was involved with a company for training on Open Source which involved 6000 college students and organization like Indian Air Force. He has also trained the likes of Indian Air Force staff.
Rupesh is a Computer Science Engineer and obtained the degree from Rajasthan University. Rupesh did his research work at IIT Bombay where he along with his team developed a Linux based Operating System called ‘Intux’
In an interaction with knowAhead, Mr. Rupesh shares the motivation of the start-up and his journey as an Entrepreneur.
How did you have the idea about starting Inopen Technologies? What was the motivation behind starting it?
During my engineering days, I was doing my B-Tech project under Dr. SridharIyer, (a professor at the department of Computer Science and Engineering at IIT-B). I was passionate about Open Source and its applications across Education Sector. Dr. Sridhar was working on ComputerMasti along with his team. Over one discussion we figured out we can tap a glaring gap in computer learning. I noticed that everybody just wanted to learn computer application through skill and not through concept. This serious lack of basic understanding made me think about giving computer learning an early start, right at the onset of a growing mind. I could see the potential in Computer Masti. It was only in August 2009 that Dr. Sridhar and I decided to draw on our experience and start a company together. We started the company on Oct 2009.
What challanges you faced in starting Inopen? How did you build up your team?
The challenges are both academic as well as the usual ones a startup experiences:
- The biggest challenge is to setup a team of rockstars. Personally that’s my priority number one.
- Maintaining quality as we are scaling up. InOpen gives lot of emphasis on quality and user customization. The challenge is to match the quality with increase in sales.
- Increasing the capacity to churn out content at a faster rate.
- One of the constant challenge is to automate and expedite processes and iron out operation issues. We are currently working to create separate verticals for Govt. and Private Schools.
In today’s world Mobile and tablets are catching up. How are you planning to leverage that for InOpen?
Tablets soon are going to replace Text Books in next 3-4 years. There are many reasons but the most important reason is the fact that Text Books are anyways not interactive. InOpen is working on adding iOS and Android platforms to exisitng books. We are also working to make our content available for Smart Classes. Having said that we feel that technology is just an extension to quality content. E-learning or any technological advancement is just an extension to the content. It’s not the other way round. Good letter leads to writing good emails, similarly it’s the content which matters the most. Then, if you want the content to be presented as Apps (across mobile as App stores) or as Web based learning it does not really matter. We would eventually generate E-Content for New Generation smart-phones and Tablets.
What are your future plans for the expansion?
- We are currently focusing on positioning ourselves correctly in this crowded Education segment. We would focus on understanding our customers and their requirements for a while in the present scheme of things. I am aware that to scale up would be highly human intensive.
- We are working on e-learning modules and different platforms which would help us attain that scale and large audience. We are working towards digitizing our content which would retain our fundamental strengths. We will be aggressive on Govt. projects. Govt. Projects constitute the major portion of our audience.
- We will open up at-least 4 more remote offices for serving the local markets better. We are also exploring opportunities in middle east and Schools in developing countries like Bangladesh and Sri-Lanka.
Special achievements by InOpen technologies?
- We have tied up with HBCSE and now will be coming up with Small Science books.
- We have expanded our ambit of services to North India, starting with Jaipur. We will gradually plan to take CM to Delhi as well.
- We have stepped up hiring’s and have already doubled our sales and marketing team. Our teams are now functional in the states of Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh
The most important message for Entrepreneurs is to only start when you have a strong belief in the idea. Do not start for ‘being your own boss’ or because you are excited about an idea for a week. I have written a blog highlighting few ideas for budding or the so called chicken entrepreneurs. Here is the link to it : The challanges of a chicken Entrepreneur in sustaining his startup.