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13th Feb 2023
1hr 47mins

Episode 9 | Raghu Pandey | iMature

Raghu Pandey is the founder of iMature.in, India's leading Edtech startup, on a mission to make every child internet mature through Digital Citizenship & Internet Maturity (DCIM) education.

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Djagmo: Welcome to the Knowledge Entrepreneurs Show, where we celebrate the innovators driving change in the education industry at Edison Os. We've worked with over 500 knowledge entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into profitable businesses. In today's episode of the Knowledge Entrepreneur Show, we have Ragu Pane.

Djagmo: Ragu Pane is the founder of immature in India's leading ethics startup on a mission to make every child internet mature through digital citizenship and internet maturity education. With over a decade of experience in this domain, he has authored India's first book on D C I M and developed an online course in a free curriculum for schools to teach D C I M to teenage students.

Djagmo: He has helped over 60 schools and colleges in India to make their students and teachers internet through seminars and talks. Ragu, uh, first of all, thank you so much for, uh, you know, uh, deciding to join me on this podcast. And, um, my pleasure choosing this time also. It's a wonderful time to do such things.

Djagmo: Saturday morning, nine o'clock, you know, after you, once it's done, you're like, you al you already feel you've done something, uh, very nice, uh, to start of the weekend. So, cool. Uh, thank you for that. And pleasure. Um, Ragu, uh, I know that we've spoken briefly before, but, uh, you know, we are gonna start fresh.

Djagmo: I've forgotten everything that I spoke with you. Okay. And, um, before we get started, before I, you know, ask you questions and all sort of thing, first of all, you know, please remember this is nothing but a conversation. Nothing more, you know, uh, very casual conversation. But, uh, the topic of conversation. Is the only thing that we are kind of, you know, right.

Djagmo: Um, not letting it wander. That's about it. Right. But, um, just to give, you know, uh, what is this podcast as the name says? Um, it's the Knowledge Entrepreneur Show. Um, it's a show where, you know, we have guests, uh, who's, you know, who are either founders or CEOs of building tech products, so who's got something to do with the knowledge entrepreneurship space.

Djagmo: And the listeners also, we, our intention is to give value to people who are in the knowledge entrepreneurship domain. So that's the niche that we've chosen. And why have we chosen this niche? Because we, as a company, we help trainers, training academies, and anybody who's in the knowledge space, give them an online platform.

Djagmo: You know, for them it's like, um, Everything from website to invoicing, to payments, everything, you know, live classes, recorded courses and stuff like that. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And, um, our audience are mostly people who are trying to build a course so, you know, build a business around this area and, you know, that's the reason we want to talk to knowledge entrepreneurs and then, you know, understand how the business works.

Djagmo: Yes. We will be talking about what Iur is a little bit. Mm-hmm. But, um, you know mostly about how, you know around ime Sure. How you build ime. Sure. What is your vision for ime? Sure. What are the ups and downs that you face? Stuff like that. So yeah. With that, uh, being said, um, I'll, you know, start off with my first question.

Djagmo: It's a very open question to start off with. Mm-hmm. And it's, you know, to do with not I met Sure. It's to do with the person Ragu pane. Okay. Because at the end of the day, uh, I'm sure, uh, I met Sure. Uh, given that it's your product, uh, you know, your, uh, personality is gonna be intertwined with the company as well.

Djagmo: Indeed. So knowing you Indeed is almost little bit knowing about ime Sure. As well.

Raghu Pandey: It's true. Every small startup, so Yeah.

Djagmo: Yeah, yeah. And also it's a good way for people to connect with the person and then, you know, everything that you speak later would make so much more sense, so much more interesting.

Djagmo: Sure. So that's, yeah. Sure. So Ragu, uh, start off from as early as you want, you know, from your childhood. Maybe, you know, what was your life growing up? Uh, uh, you know, where did you kind of, uh, get that, uh, you know, entrepreneurship bug and then, you know, how, what's the journey of yours up until here? Over to

Raghu Pandey: Thanks, Jumo, the entrepreneurship coming and really bugging me and so intensely, it's, it's quite an interesting, uh, episode in my life.

Raghu Pandey: So, uh, I grew up entirely in, uh, Popal. Popal is a, uh, small town, I would call it the largest small town of India, although it has exceeded the population of 25 lack or something. The, yeah, the, the mindset is still a very laid back, right, uh, complacent, uh, that kind of town. Uh, so nothing in in this city, uh, can give you ambitions to grow your wings and fly high so high.

Raghu Pandey: Those kinds of, you know, no adrenaline or no, those kind of, uh, neurochemistry, which is behind an, behind an entrepreneur, nothing like that from the city. Uh, although it's, it's an amazing place to be here. Uh, the quality of life is unparalleled, I would say, uh, you know, in, in anywhere in India. So probably that gives, that gave me, uh, a lot of, uh, time to, you know, think about things.

Raghu Pandey: So, uh, my schooling was from, you know, good schools of the city, uh, right. Uh, and there also, it was just an average academic system, which, you know, my, my teenage was in in nineties. Right, right. So when I was, uh, growing in schools, so schools were okay. Uh, and I, I got a bit disconnected from schools because, you know, they did not serve the curiosity of the, of the, of the child.

Raghu Pandey: Mm-hmm. So probably that disconnection and living in a small town gives you a lot of free time to think, you know, I, I, I do tend to see, uh, teenagers in, uh, big cities, uh, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi. They also, uh, you know, when they become curious, the city takes over them. Right. Right. That, that's my observation.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Uh, probably, uh, I had a bit of advantage back then that when I was curious about life, I, I did not have many options to get distracted. So, you know, right. Going to some libraries, you know, uh, working on certain projects, uh, Not very advanced. One very, very childish and kiddish things, you know, uh, growing my interest in the field of automobiles, you know?

Raghu Pandey: Right. Reading those magazines and having a nice life, you know, bicycling around, playing around with friends, right. So, uh, probably that is where, uh, my ambitions started rising in the field of probably the passion in the field of automobiles gave me that, give me that small spa to, you know, look at things which are excellent in field, you know, uh, having, uh, Maro 800 at home and looking at the new Mercedes S class, uh, in overdrive or auto car.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, probably that is what. Propelled me outside that LY ecosystem or that, that, well, that kua called pop in which we were living like, you know, small frogs. Uh, I read my engineering right from this city, uh, computer science engineering. It computed in 2002 and 2002 itself. I was in United, United States, uh, pursuing my MS in, uh, computer science again from University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth.

Raghu Pandey: So for one year in Dartmouth, it was an amazing life, but it was the same year, which, uh, I got exposed to so many things, which, which make you ambitious. Which make you think big. Right. And, uh, probably that small spark, small speed, uh, seed of, you know, doing something big, which I would call it non-existent till the time I felt that I was in, uh, when, when I was in University of Massachusetts.

Raghu Pandey: It was existent till then, but it, it, it flourished after that. Mm-hmm. It, uh, it sprouted and it flourished pretty fast. So probably it was, uh, if, if you want me to name one turning point in my life, which, uh, made me an entrepreneur was reading a book called The Fall and Rise of American Automobile Industry.

Raghu Pandey: So, mm. Till till that time I was interested in cars just like any teenager would be, you know? Right. You know? Right. Millions of teenagers are passionate about the new cars, the powerful cars, the beautiful cars, and, right. But, but I got my hands on something called the business and in the industry of cars, Right.

Raghu Pandey: And it, it did some, you know, of ambition, business ideas, passion, that I started thinking so passionately about the business processes. Yeah. For the first time in my life I started making notes without being forced to. Right, right. And when, when that happened, I realized that no boss, this has gotten a little deeper than what any, you know, till till now I hadn't experienced that.

Raghu Pandey: You know, depth of, uh, experience of new ideas coming in, taking roots in your head and right. Permanent roots in your head. Great. I decided to drop out and probably that's the, uh, certificate of how serious that idea was lodged in your mind. You decided

Djagmo: to drop out of your

Raghu Pandey: masters? Yeah, I decided to drop out for my masters and, and, Typical middle class boy deciding to drop out of a US university.

Raghu Pandey: Yeah. And actually getting dropped off and returning to India after just one year of, uh, master's course, probably, you know, that is what we can call the entrepreneurship bug bit me really hard. And at that point of time, it was not a particular industry that I wanted to get into. It was, it was actually building up a company.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Uh, so motor, motor, it was around it. The ideas were, were around it, but Right. Uh, it was that, uh, to create a company desire to create value. And, you know, so many things from my childhood and the exposure of us and all, probably it was the culmination of all of those things. The buildup was all of the, uh, those things coming at, at a point that I decided to, you know, Now make that my life.

Raghu Pandey: And why did I drop out? It wasn't that I wasn't not getting value in us, I was getting immense value there. I was really enjoying my life and for the first time I was enjoying the education, right, the learning process. Uh, but I thought that if I do not come back to India now, now as in 2003, mm-hmm. Uh, probably the next bus would be many years later when I'm into my career in US and, you know, uh, family at a stable, I, I, I had seen my seniors, my, uh, you know, elder brothers and, you know, all those people who, who come to us get into an IT industry and then how it becomes the, the world they live in.

Raghu Pandey: And it's so difficult to get out of that world and get back to India and. I thought that if it's now, then it will be much later in life. So I decided to do that now, came back, um, and since, uh, I did not have a business background in running companies, although both my parents, uh, you know, had been self-employed professionals, uh, okay.

Raghu Pandey: But yeah, my, uh, dad was an income tax consultant and also, uh, you know, developed a cooperative housing society. So, uh, business in real estate and taxation. Uh, my mom, uh, was very actively into, uh, you know, handy crafts and arts as a, as a teacher, as a, a self-employed teacher. So, uh, although that was in, in my, uh, thinking right from my childhood, but building a, are you only child?

Raghu Pandey: Do you have

Djagmo: any siblings?

Raghu Pandey: I have a sibling. I have a younger sister.

Djagmo: I'm so sorry to interrupt. Yeah, please. Uh, it's okay. You're feel, don't feel free

Raghu Pandey: to Cause it has to be a conversation.

Djagmo: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, but I also don't wanna cut your, uh, train of thought, but I just thought, you know that question. I don't, I couldn't stop.

Djagmo: Yeah, please, please cut it. No

Raghu Pandey: problem. Uh, so, uh, you

Djagmo: were talking about, uh, your mother was, you know, so,

Raghu Pandey: uh, exactly. Building a company, uh, felt very, very different from being a self employed person to me. So I thought I need more exposure around that, you know, I need more exposure around companies of it. So I, I got a good opportunity to enroll myself into an institute called, uh, international Institute of Information Technology.

Raghu Pandey: This is, uh, this is based in Pune, in the, yeah.

Djagmo: Triple it. That's how it's commonly

Raghu Pandey: called, right? Actually, no, actually, this is called, I core it to differentiate itself from triple it. Bec. Oh, okay. Okay, okay. Uh, because this is owned by the Phenolics Group, uh, you know, uh, got it. The triple its are Indian Institute of Information Technology, which is the government institutions.

Raghu Pandey: Okay. Okay. Right. You have it in, uh, Bangalore. Heba also, I guess has a triple it if I'm not Right. Right. So those are Indian Institute of Information Technology. This is International Institute of Information Technology run by the Phenols group. Right. But my attraction point was that it was, uh, right in the, so.

Raghu Pandey: You know, which is the software technology park of Pune, one of the, uh, hubs of IT industry, uh, IT companies in Pune. So, uh, right situa being situated right there, I was sure of getting a lot of exposure to the business of it, to the top level companies. You, you name the top companies of the Indian it, and they have an office, uh, in Hiva.

Raghu Pandey: So, you know, it was a great, uh, opportunity for me. Uh, I spent two years there and although the course was masters of, uh, science in Advanced Networking and Telecommunication, uh, I'm very passionate about tech and networking technologies. Uh, but my objective of being in Isq 80 was to learn business of it more than the course.

Raghu Pandey: So somehow I got it, got through the course, but I, I, I made sure I, you know, I get a good exposure to, uh, uh, the business people, the companies. And all the things that, you know, I was lacking in my clarity. I I got a good start there. Great. And right, right. After completing my, uh, and I, I also, uh, built a business plan, uh, when I was there.

Raghu Pandey: Mm-hmm. Uh, and it was around starting a local networking portal. Uh, like we have a social networking for people. Yeah. Any coming, connecting from anywhere. My idea was to create a local networking portal dedicated to people in a particular city. So that would have an, and, and we have many examples of that.

Raghu Pandey: None succeeded. Very, uh, you know, there is no stellar success in, in that category yet. Right. Uh, but back then it was just emerging. I'm talking about 2005. Four and five. Got it. Got it. So with that idea of a local networking portal, we branded, its citi valla.com. Uh, started my first company in 2005 and since my dad was a tax, uh, consultant, uh, it, he immensely helped me in in corporation and other things, which I think,

Djagmo: um, registered company is named Citi Valla.

Djagmo: Right. I saw, uh, that's

Raghu Pandey: my one. Yeah, one of the comp. I have two. Uh, I'm a directly two companies, two private limit companies. Uh, the older one is Ciwa Private Limited, with which we started. Okay. And the current startup is under I Sure. At Tech Private Limited. Oh, okay. Got it. Got it. Right. So these are two different companies.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, so, uh, when I started in 2005, you know, incorporation was a very tedious process. Lot of paperwork. Right. And it's not as easy as it is today. Right. Uh, so, uh, that hassle was made easy by my dad's support. Right. Uh, but beyond that, uh, I was completely on my own right. Because the idea which, uh, I came up with the local networking portal mm-hmm.

Raghu Pandey: Building it technically was not that much of a challenge, uh, because, you know, I, I, I, I was a programmer myself. Mm-hmm. Uh, started learning a bit of, uh, content management system. So building that portal mm-hmm. Or a bunch of portals technically was not that much of a problem. Okay. But, you know, the go-to market thing.

Raghu Pandey: Right. You know, it, it, I realized that, you know, you just cannot personally go and start adding people ten one day, 20 other day. It has to have, uh, you know, a big fund available for you to do it Right. Uh, properly. So that's when the idea of paperwork came into my mind without the word pivot, but the idea of concept of pivoting came into my mind.

Raghu Pandey: Right. And probably we can know more about it. If you have more questions about the bug, then we can address those and then we can, uh, uh, talk to talk about my first startup I branch dot, which emerged out this.

Djagmo: Okay. Oh, so I branch, okay. I think that's where I saw on LinkedIn, uh, I branch and then in the bracketed, Citi Valla.

Djagmo: So the pivot was the Citi Valla pivoted to I branch. Got it. Yeah. Yeah. But, uh, before I jump into these things, I have just a couple of, you know, questions out of curiosity. Um, you know, from whatever you said, couple of things. One is you said, you know, you, um, uh, graduated in 2002 from your computer science as a, as an engineer.

Djagmo: Yeah. As a computer science thing. Yeah. And then you, uh, without a gap job experience, you went to do ms.

Raghu Pandey: Yes. Because right in the, uh, third year of my engineering as the trend was back those days, uh, right, right. Start prepar for GRE and Right. While you are, uh, still in a b course, you, you have already applied to university, so you know Right.

Raghu Pandey: As soon as the engineering ends, you know, where if, if you have acceptance, then you know where you are going. Right.

Djagmo: Right, right, right. So, um, looking back, Ragu, uh, do you feel, um, a a couple of years of job experience would've helped in between engineering and masters?

Raghu Pandey: Definitely, and I, today I recommend to every, uh, engineering, Passover or any college pass out that before rushing into Masters, go do a job so that you will make better choices of, you know, going into Masters.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, the only ex uh, you know, exception for our batch back then was we were right in the middle of.com, burst.com bubble burst. Okay. So hiring in it was almost zero back. So that's why a lot of batchmates of mine, they went abroad. They went into Gate I, it, they did MBAs, so hardly anyone did, uh, a proper job after the engineering was over.

Raghu Pandey: Right.

Djagmo: Right. Okay. Got it, got it, got it. So that's also one of the reasons why, you know, you thought big reason you still waiting for the job. You could at least, you know, skill yourself by doing a Master's

Raghu Pandey: or something like that. I would give you just one instance that would, you know, clarify the situation.

Raghu Pandey: Sure. The entire batch of our computer science, uh, 2002 was sitting in an interview for, uh, you know, a BPO company. Oh my God. So if you can realize what was the situation like? Yeah,

Djagmo: yeah, yeah. Computer science

Raghu Pandey: we only wanted to hear was, can you speak in English and can you pick up the accent that we are going to train you for?

Raghu Pandey: That's the only requirement and the entire badge of University Institute of Technology, 2002, uh, computer science sitting for and interviewing that. Got

Djagmo: it. Yeah. That must have, yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, you know, when the, when the job market is like down, I think if the, if job is the only thing that you want, especially after engineering, I don't think people have much choice.

Djagmo: Right. Uh, I mean, not that they have a choice, but Yeah. It's making a choice, right? Making money is as important as anything sometimes. So, um, Ragu, another question I had was like, how did your family react to you dropping out your, out of your

Raghu Pandey: masters In between? Yeah. So not easy at all. Not easy at all.

Djagmo: Yeah. Because it takes a lot of money, right. To go and do masters and a lot of money you must have

Raghu Pandey: already invested. I, I was, uh, partially fortunate to have got a teaching assistantship in us. So the, okay. Um, UMass Dartmouth is not one of the most expensive universities. And Okay. I got a teaching assistantship there.

Raghu Pandey: So what, what it did back then was you, it was, I think my tuition fees was waived off, which was a significant portion of what we pay to the university. Wow. And then it also, uh, gave me, uh, a small salary to, you know, take care of my monthly expenses. Mm-hmm. So it was not a lot of burning of money, but for a middle class family, it was a significant amount, which I burned there.

Raghu Pandey: And, uh,

Djagmo: so there are two aspects, right? One is a financial aspect. One more is the social aspect.

Raghu Pandey: That's the bigger aspect. Much, yeah. A much bigger aspect, yeah. Because, you know, uh, in, in middle class families, a boy going to us is seen as, you know, Transitioning from one phase of life into another. And now the son has dawned in his life and, you know, he will grow it as a separate, uh, you know, animal altogether now.

Raghu Pandey: Yeah. Computer science If, if that label has been acquired by a family, then you know, nothing like it and Right. And then Luca coming back and, you know, rubbing that label off. It's not easy. It was not easy. So it required a lot of convincing, although my parents did not vehemently oppose this, or it was not a, a situation of friction.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Um, but yes, there was a lot of concern. Right. And I had to convince them a lot. Uh, they did support me. They did support me that, okay, if you are taking this decision, you must have thought through it. Hmm. Uh, but yeah, it was not without their concerns. Right. Until date. Until date. I keep getting questions of why did you dropout?

Raghu Pandey: Because it beats people, you know, to think that when you were in that, uh,

Djagmo: especially when you're into entrepreneurship and you're not in a unicorn company, they'll like Exactly.

Raghu Pandey: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So, yeah, I, I still answer those questions. So, coming from within the family, from the, from the friends group, so I've become habital of answering that question

Djagmo: Right.

Djagmo: Got it, got it. Um, just wanted to, you know, not that I wanna know the answers, but I know as a curious, this must have definitely had an impact and, you know, it does so much of mental stress intention, right. When you're like, going abroad and then you are not completing it. Okay. Especially parents are like, you know, uh, they would've, uh, kind of, you know, boasted off.

Djagmo: And indeed, indeed on the pride, uh, exactly while our son is in the US and then comes, a lot of other things are there anyway. Cool. Got it. Um, but uh, I think at this point, uh, only thing that I feel like telling you is, uh, kudos to you for, you know, you've made some brave choices. Let's see how the journey is unfolded from there.

Djagmo: So, um, Ragu, you said, you know, you joined, um, international Institute of Information Technology in Pune that was owned by Fenix. Yeah. And, uh, you also, uh, helped me understand the difference between triplet and this. I wasn't aware about it. Mm-hmm. Um, you said more than the technological aspects, given that you were a computer science graduate.

Djagmo: You've done your masters, I'm sure you had your know-how about the, uh, programming, coding side of computers and stuff like that? But was International Institute of Information Technology, Pune an MBA for computer science people, was it something like that? Is that what they were offering?

Raghu Pandey: Uh, no, in fact, they were offering, uh, I'm not aware about the current offerings.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, right. I'm, the institute is very well, uh, functioning. But back then when I joined, it was m MBA was also being offered, uh, in various fields. I guess mba, it was also an option, but I did not choose, I did not, uh, choose that. Okay. Uh, my course was, uh, a proper MS course, master of Science course. It was modeled on, uh, the lines of, you know, foreign universities offering masters of science sports.

Djagmo: Ah, okay.

Raghu Pandey: Interesting. Uh, different from the Mtech, uh, which, which is being offered in

Djagmo: Rago. I'm so sorry. I'm gonna like stop you, you know, interrupt you here. You, no problem. You did your masters in us. Uh, it was, I dropped out of that. Dropped out. Yes, yes, yes. You dropped out. Did you choose this to kind of, you know, Did you have a realization later?

Djagmo: I probably should have finished masters, you know, since you dropped out. Is that why you did this? What was the

Raghu Pandey: reason? No, not that, not that. The reason was that, uh, the subject that I was, uh, you know, learning, uh, I was loving the most in my master's in US was, uh, networking related subjects. Okay. Subjects related to computer networking.

Raghu Pandey: And this course MS in advanced networking and telecommunication was very close to, you know, it, it had all the aspects of, uh, computer networking. Uh, so that's why, uh, just for the interest, my personal interest part of it, I chose this one. Okay. Uh, otherwise I was clear that it's not a course or a degree that, uh, I am after because as it is, I'm not going to present it to any interviewer.

Raghu Pandey: You're

Djagmo: talking about the. Uh, international Institute of Yeah. Inform,

Raghu Pandey: yeah. So they, they had ms. Okay. Yeah. They also had MS programs, which was purely, uh, technical programs. So I, I chose that, uh, only because I liked the, uh, you like the networking aspect of it? Yeah,

Djagmo: yeah. But the networks and all. Okay, got it.

Djagmo: Indeed, indeed. Uh, when you say networks, uh, sorry. I mean, you need to, uh, help me understand a little bit more. Yeah, sure, sure, sure. Networks, as you know, the only thing that comes to my mind is, you know, networking, uh, routers, connecting internet. Uh, is that the same networking you're talking about? Yes. That,

Raghu Pandey: that, that's the bulk of what we learn in any networking course.

Raghu Pandey: Okay. Uh, how computers interconnect at a small level as a land, which your laptop being connected to another laptop in your office, or at the largest level of internet where, you know, thousands of routers are in play. Right. And then you act to add all the complexities that you see today. Mobile communication.

Raghu Pandey: Got it. You know, uh, internet based T C I P based communication and other protocols. So all of these things fall into the purview of, uh, advance network in telecommunication.

Djagmo: Yeah. Got it. Ra, interesting. So, I mean, see being a computer science graduate, right? I mean, you must have seen the, uh, way computer science degree helps people and you know what all they've done.

Djagmo: Interesting that you were interested in networking side of it. What led to this?

Raghu Pandey: Uh, what led to this? Yeah, again, it's a good question because see, computer net, computer science is such a big, uh, variety of subjects You get to see in computer science, there is graphics, there is databases, there is operating systems, there is networking, there's, uh, back then neural networks and AI was taking, you know, uh, route, uh, so many options there.

Raghu Pandey: But probably, uh, the thing I talked to you about, the concept of local networking, uh, which, which I started my entrepreneurship journey with, it had taken its roots in the days of engineering. When I wrote a technical paper, Around it, how computer networks can help connect entities in a city and help fight the problem of traffic and pollution and, you know, reduce people's physical movement by enabling virtual movement.

Raghu Pandey: Right. So, you know, it was a very early days version of what we see today. Uh, got everyone connected, so Got it. It, it wasn't a rocket science thing. Everybody understood those concepts. I just articulated the, articulated it the way I wanted it. Got it. Probably their, you know, the concept of networking opened up before me and, you know, interconnections, how interconnections happen in the world of, uh, computers.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Then I also did one of my, uh, engineering projects around that with the help of my, uh, friend, uh, you know, networking based on networking. So the curiosity. Right. Interesting. Yeah. Started right in the engineering base.

Djagmo: Thank you. Thank you for, you know, uh, taking me back to, you know, where it kind of started off because, um, yeah, now it makes sense to me, you know, because I see that, uh, there has been that sort of, uh, you've always, looks like you've connected it with social. Problem solving. Like, you know, even when you spoke, you spoke about not building a company, but then you spoke about, you know, how that can be related to solving everyday issues that we face in our cities and the places that we live in.

Djagmo: And even whatever we are doing now seems very, uh, connected with that. Right. So when I come to this, so Sure. Um, you, you know, you spoke about, uh, starting this, uh, local, uh, connectivity sort of, uh, startup or a company, and that happened, uh, after you joined, uh, international Institute of Information Technology or you had that idea and to upscale yourself.

Djagmo: Is that b uh, why you joined, uh, international Institute of Information Technology?

Raghu Pandey: So when I dropped, actually dropped out Uhhuh, I was doing a lot of, uh, you know, uh, thinking in my head, uh, it was not, uh, abrupt decision. It was not, uh, you know, spur of the moment or heat of the moment decision. Right. Uh, I did a lot of, you know, uh, written analysis of what dropping out means and what I'm going to do.

Raghu Pandey: Huh. So I thought about a lot of ideas and Right. A local networking idea was one of the things which I had in mind cause I had thought about it in, in the engineering base. Got it. Uh, so from, uh, there, I guess, uh,

Djagmo: by that time where any social, uh, media was still there? I don't think so. Right. Like Oracle awkward or any, you know, no

Raghu Pandey: awkward hadn't started MySpace and High 5 2, 2 2 were the names we were hearing.

Raghu Pandey: I was in a part of when I was doing Masters in US So High. Yeah. And I guess Facebook started in 2004 or five, if I'm not right. Wrong. And not as in the publicly available social network. They started in Harvard around 2004 or five. So, uh, before that it was MySpace High Five. And I don't know if Friendster was also, uh, Back then active.

Raghu Pandey: So it was very early days for social networks, uh, uh, and my inspiration hadn't come from being a part of social network, but, uh, seeing the how lands and wa ands white area networks and those kind of things, uh, in theory more than in, in reality. Got it. So that's what the inspiration behind, you know, and, and I'm always, I have always been an application person, so I, I want to see technology applied to solve some problem.

Raghu Pandey: And that's probably, that's, that is in the DNA of every entrepreneur. Unless you have that, you cannot be an entrepreneur. You, you can be an amazing professor and an innovator and an inventor, but not an entrepreneur. Right. So, you know, uh, a sensitivity towards a problem which should be solved, that has to be there.

Raghu Pandey: And since it was there, uh, with me since engineering days, that's how it grew up. Uh, with the concept of networking. Got it. Solving the problem with city.

Djagmo: Got it. Ragu, no, this is clear for me, you know, chronologically. Mm-hmm. You know, you do your masters and then while you decide to kind of, you know, when, when you think about dropping out, you know, that's when this idea of local networking and then, you know, you go to International Institute of Inter um, information Technology and, uh, that was like what, a one year course?

Raghu Pandey: It was a two years course. Two years

Djagmo: course, yeah. Okay, great. And, uh, that's how you started. Okay. So what was this, uh, Citi Valla idea? What was that? Uh, start

Raghu Pandey: very simple idea. Citi valla.com uh, was very simply, uh, portal wherein mm-hmm. Uh, the service providers in the city and service consumers in the city, they can be, you know, matched together.

Raghu Pandey: Mm. Uh, simple idea that if you want to drive down 20 kilometers, something like just dial, uh, yeah. However, just dial is still yellow pages on steroids. Uh, what we had thought, what, uh, the, the USP of city wall.com was we were planning to allow, uh, collaboration, like we are doing, you know, at advance level of collaboration between people, which was technically a challenge back then, but still not, not an impossible thing.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, so that the physical meeting could be replaced by a virtual meeting between people. It had a lot of, uh, it was based on, uh, video communication and advanced display of your services and products, uh, online. So kind of, you know, giving, uh, what Shopify gives to you today. Right. Uh, and, and, and as you can see, it was a very heavy lifting for a startup.

Raghu Pandey: We did not realize that it's heavy lifting. Right. But it was, and that's what we realized when we started working on it.

Djagmo: Okay. And, uh, you were a team of how many people.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, three when I started. So my, my all, uh, engineers codes, uh, yes, all engineers. So one of my, uh, batchmates from, uh, ice Core, it, uh, Raul and one of my elder brothers, cousin brothers, uh, they, they join, so both of them engineers.

Raghu Pandey: Okay. Uh, and yes, so we, we did start, uh, with, with a good team. Uh, but as I said, it was actually heavy lifting that we realized later that, you know, we have cured much, much more than what we can swallow. Got it. And what

Djagmo: about the money? The Capital

Raghu Pandey: Zero? We had nothing. It was a completely bootstrapped idea.

Raghu Pandey: We had the review, what does an IT startup require as a capital expense. We had the laptops and the desktops required and, okay, that's it. Uh, space to sit in my dad's office. Uh, okay. That, that was, uh, granted to us and we did, uh, start with couple of random projects to, you know, build a website or giving it networking, consulting to some businesses to get some money.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Uh, we did get some money and through that process we also mastered that, uh, content management system thing that was, uh, that I was talking about earlier. Right, right. You know, so, but we did not have any capital to start with. Right, right.

Djagmo: Uh,

Raghu Pandey: got it. That

Djagmo: was a scenario. And, uh, how long did the City Visa Journal last?

Raghu Pandey: I would say not more than one year before we realized that without having funding, right. Uh, this thing cannot take shape. Okay. Uh, And I can go into the details, but that would become too academic, how prototypes and go-to market works and, you know, it, it might be important. Got it. Got it, got it. I pivoted probably within one year of starting citi wall.com.

Raghu Pandey: And the pivot was based around our knowledge of content management system, which we acquired in that one year of time. Basically, your CMS is nothing but a well facilitated, you know, software, uh, of, of facilitating software for you to create advanced websites dynamic focus, advanced with, with minimal amount of coding required.

Raghu Pandey: Right? Right. So it's always a great decision to use a C M S rather than from scratch. You build your portal. So we developed that skill. Ok. Uh, a CMS called.net nuke, which comes from the.net family. It is an open source one. Uh, we developed our, our skills around that. Okay. Based on that knowledge of that c m s, uh, we thought that it can very well be applied in the domain of colleges because we, all of us, were right, fresh out of college people, right?

Raghu Pandey: Uh, and we understood how, what were the dynamics in a college, right? Like, so we thought that, uh, it can become an intra college portal or a knowledge sharing portal within the college, which has all the knowledge sharing facilities, like discussion forums, blogs, document sharing, shared calendar, uh, and I'm talking about 2000, uh, five, six.

Raghu Pandey: So, uh, we did not have any option available to colleges, uh, to do that, uh, unless they're very well, uh, re mo very resourceful colleges like the, i, its, or the top private universities, right? Uh, average college does not have access to any such. Uh, knowledge sharing portal or something. So we decided to start that.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, we launched our first product. Uh, it was, uh, traditional software sold on a CD and one time payments. This is, this is,

Djagmo: we are talking about I Branch.

Raghu Pandey: Right? Uh, it is the precursor to I branch, which, uh, which existed for six months. Okay. Okay. Uh, so we created a portal software. Mm-hmm. Using the open source.net nuk.

Raghu Pandey: Mm-hmm. Uh, Convinced a couple of engineering colleges in Boal that, you know, here is an amazing thing. It'll, uh, help you improve your, uh, knowledge ecosystem within your, uh, the learning environment in your college. And it is very cheap. Buy it, they bought it. And, uh, even in, back, back in those days, all the engineering colleges, because of the mandate from the A I C T E had a server infrastructure and, you know, all those things in place, right?

Raghu Pandey: So that was not a challenge. So we, we did install our, uh, software on their servers, but beyond that, uh, the colleges were not equipped to run a server 24 7, which is a basic, essential need for a service to be available to students. And Got it. We were just making it available on the land, the simplest of offering.

Raghu Pandey: But even then, uh uh, A Pune would just shut off everything in the campus before leaving the campus, including the server rooms. So you can imagine that kind of a mindset existing and no server administrator being there to make sure that the server, if there is some troubleshooting require. So we realize that we cannot depend on the clients to run their servers.

Raghu Pandey: Got it. And then by force, not by any, uh, streak of genius innovation or anything. Mm-hmm. We became probably India's first SaaS company in the Ecec domain. And that I realized today, not back then. Okay. We decided server of my Lebanon, we bought the cheapest of the dead Dell server possible. Right. And luckily, reliance Infocom, which was probably Anani owned.

Raghu Pandey: Yeah. Yeah, a telecom company. They started a fiber optic service in the city. It was pretty new and it was giving amazing speeds. Okay. So we took that connection, uh, again, the cheapest possible, and that's how we became a SaaS company. And it was rebranded as I branch.in. Ah, so yeah, got it. Earlier it was called I NT Integration Kindig.

Raghu Pandey: You know, you integrate People Pathetic brand. I don't, I don't know why we kept that, but then I branch.in was the thing, which it was a well thought that I stands for Internet and Branch is any organization having its branch on internet, right? Wherein their people can come and meet and share knowledge and do everything.

Raghu Pandey: So that's how I branch got in, started in, uh, 2006.

Djagmo: And this is the same team as, uh, your Citi Valla?

Raghu Pandey: Uh, yes. The same team as Citi Valla, but uh, The team facing. See, since it, uh, city was such an uphill task, uh, the team actually, you know, moved onto their other, uh, aspirations. The team members gradually got,

Djagmo: got it.

Djagmo: Right.

Raghu Pandey: So I, I had, uh, no, I had a newer team, so, okay. Uh, yeah, I had a newer team with I branch dotting. Okay. So, which stayed along with me till 20, uh, 10, 2010. And then, yes. The next thing.

Djagmo: But looks like you ran I branch for almost 2013 till 20 13, 5 years?

Raghu Pandey: Uh, no. Uh, uh, it was available in the market till, uh, 2011.

Raghu Pandey: Okay. Uh, after that, uh, only the existing customers who were using Ibrance service, we kept serving them. Okay. Uh, but we were, I had already moved on to another business, which I'm doing right now. Got it.

Djagmo: So, uh, I branch, you know, uh, How high did it go? How many customers did you manage to acquire? Uh, what is the kind of business that you managed to do?

Djagmo: Were you

Raghu Pandey: profitable? Uh, we were profitable only because of our costs were very low. So I, it should not qualify as, as profitable startup. Uh, because we were taking what, peanuts in salary, equivalent to No salary. Got it. Very low cost of operations. So by those standards it was profitable?

Djagmo: On paper It was profit.

Djagmo: It was profit,

Raghu Pandey: yeah. Uh, but actually we, I should not call it a profitable startup. Okay. And that's the reason we had to shut it down. See? Uh, we re reached a height of, uh, almost 50, uh, subscribers and b2b, all colleges. Okay. Majority of them colleges, few in schools. Hmm. Uh, And all of those subscribers were very happy to start this service because it was pretty cheap.

Raghu Pandey: It was around 25 k per year for an organization, which is nothing for an organization. So

Djagmo: what we, so what you are offering is that a portal for a, uh, college where they could upload all their, you know, where students can access all the curriculum, you know, like discussion students, all that things that you said.

Raghu Pandey: Exactly. So it had a, a notice board where teachers can write notices. Like a learning management system. Like a learning management. Exactly. It is a learning management system, but adapted to Indian higher education needs. So if I may go a little, uh, into detail here. All the LMSs that we have today are designed around the western higher education system where professor has lot of autonomy to design this semester.

Raghu Pandey: Mm. Indian higher education system is very, very different wherein professor just has to tow the line. Drawn by the university. Okay. So Indian higher education system is, requires a very different lms and we still do not have that LMS product. So all the LMS products that we have today, major, the most successful ones Hmm.

Raghu Pandey: Are uh, uh, designed for Western Higher education system. Oh, interesting. So what we designed was a very simple portal wherein, uh, it'll be a hierarchy of permissions. Uh, the principal and the director will have all the permission to edit content anywhere. The teachers will have their designated notice board where they can go and write notices, uh, training and placements still had their own section where they can share content.

Raghu Pandey: Document uploading facility was, again, permission based on forums and blogs. Students can write. Right. Everywhere else students can access. And if a student is not a part of the portal, then. Portal is not accessible to any outsider, right? And all such features combined into a, a very simple portal became a knowledge sharing portal or an intra college portal, and got it, that we offered as a service.

Raghu Pandey: So around 25 k per year was the charge that we were, uh, charging the colleges and they were happy, uh, to, you know, subscribe to service. Almost 50. Uh, we were able to onboard the challenge started af uh, you know, in the renewal years. Uh, it was not a problem of service not being available, fortunately not because we were software geniuses, because we made the right choice of, you know, choosing a good software stack.net new, uh, and, and doing a bit of our homework in running that server.

Raghu Pandey: And so with, with, uh, basic, sincere efforts, we were able to run the service. Very well. Uh, got it. 99.9% availability. You know, in going into the jargons, we were able to achieve 99.99% availability. Uh, and it was pretty easy to use for all the users, uh, right. Uh, all my users had their laptops or access to desktops at their homes, at their colleges.

Raghu Pandey: So access to service was also not a problem. Ease of use was not a problem. Okay. Uh, service availability was not a problem. Right. Uh, and internet savviness of users was also not a problem that me trying to tell them that what is discussion for It sounded something very out of this. Well, no, it was not.

Raghu Pandey: They were all pretty active on Oracle Yahoo chats. The, you know, the past times of those days online, they were pretty active. Right, right. Uh, what they were not, you know, equipped with. We realized later, so I, I should not jump, uh, to that conclusion. Uh, I, I must tell you what happened in those years when renewals dwindled and, you know, stopped coming in, uh, the decision makers at our client's end were, we were, you know, honesty telling us that we have no problem paying you 25, 40 K per year.

Raghu Pandey: Okay. Okay. That's absolutely not a problem. I mean, if it is cheaper than a PM salary, right? Okay. Uh, but our users are not using it. Our teachers are not using it. Our students are not using adoption. Adoption, uh, right. Can you do something? Some of them were, you know, large hearted enough to give us a second year of renewal and tell me, do something, train them, make them active, make them use the service.

Raghu Pandey: We will be the happiest to see that happen. Right, right. And we, and, and we tried about level base. So, uh, that is where in the diagnosis started happening, that despite they being internet savvy, IV active, having their laptops having 24 7 wifi in their host hotels at their homes, why are they not accessing it?

Raghu Pandey: So that diagnosis resulted into, uh, discovery of a skill gap. So, okay. Students were not equipped with that mindset that internet can be leveraged for self-learning. Internet can be leveraged for building a career in future. And also they were not equipped with the knowledge of everything wrong that can happen with them online.

Raghu Pandey: Since we were dealing with college kids, the physical safety and they, you know, getting distracted to strangers. That was not the important thing. Important thing was, you know, Uh, ruining your online reputation by doing something stupid on Oracle or Facebook, or not building your online reputation, which is, uh, required in industry.

Raghu Pandey: It started since those days, it was not something very, uh, out of this world we were talking, but Right. These college students were simply blank about all of these aspects of internet. Okay? Okay. So I thought that it's a knowledge gap and it can very well be filled by delivering some knowledge content to them.

Raghu Pandey: Let's do workshops. Let's give them some videos. And we did that. I, I, I collected, I, I, I, I built a training program around that and, and we did deliver that, uh, training program around that. Uh, I called it internet maturity because I was inspired from the, uh, terminology of maturity models of software companies.

Raghu Pandey: So, you know, cm, you must have heard about CMM level. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 companies. The biggest ones are. I don't know if they still follow this in it's industry or not. Back in those days, if you are a CMM level five company, you are a above company like infos and Oh,

Djagmo: okay. No, I account of this.

Raghu Pandey: This is the first time we, okay, so, okay.

Raghu Pandey: CMM is basically capability maturity model. Ah, so, okay. Uh, uh, I don't know which organization has designed this, but it, it was fairly well accepted in the ecosystem. Uh, that is how an Indian IT industry boasted its capabilities to the American or the European clients. And it had a well structured, you know, system of how a company can call itself C m CMM level certain.

Raghu Pandey: So interesting. A CM level three would be like, okay, now it can be a serious company taking serious projects and four and five. So I was inspired, uh, by that terminology and, uh, adapting it into individual skills domain. I thought we are talking about, Uh, making the best use of internet for your career and education.

Raghu Pandey: So let's call it internet maturity. So I called it internet maturity. Did a lot of workshops around that, trying to fill that thing called knowledge gap. So this is where this is, this creates all the difference between, you know, uh, no giving somebody knowledge and modifying somebody's

Djagmo: behavior. So, uh, you, you, you know, you said that, okay, after one year, the renewals were, uh, kind of hitting a roadblock and then the problem was not the money, the problem was not a solution, but the problem was, is it really being used?

Djagmo: Uh, it leads to two questions, but before I go to the question, I just wanna continue on your diagnosis. You diagnosed that the people the students were using did not take internet seriously for education. Uh, they did not, uh, see it. So that's where you are bringing in this internet maturity and you jump into, uh, helping people understand the value of internet.

Raghu Pandey: Right. You kind of, in fact, yeah, I jumped into saving my own startup. It was not exactly an inpatient otherwise. Yeah. But it was a sincere effort to, you know, uh, fill that knowledge gap

Djagmo: that, you know, internet can be used like this and stuff like that is, yes,

Djagmo: no, it is. I think it's a very, uh, organic approach.

Djagmo: Uh, you've not done any shortcuts. I think, you know, because easily, you know, there could have been a situation where you could have incentivized students to simply log in and, you know, you could have done anything to show the management look, you know, uh, yeah. And all those

Raghu Pandey: things. I, I think, uh, if I, uh, you know, so if I go back in memory lane, had we been funded, we would have gone that shortcut way.

Raghu Pandey: I would not call ourselves saints of some sort that we chose the have a choice. We did not have a choice, even if we wanted to incentivize those students. Right. We did not have the money to, you know, give them even, uh, you know, key chains to, you know, a thousand students who would write, uh, forum, uh, uh, discussion or a blog article.

Raghu Pandey: We did not have the money, so we did not have a choice to do

Djagmo: that. Got it. Got it. Ragu, uh, now, uh, you know, uh, this is one thing, another question that, you know, came to my mind was when you realized adoption was a problem. Okay. You, uh, wanted to do this, thinking there is a need on all those things. Mm-hmm.

Djagmo: Was, was there a gap in understanding or finding out before you, did I branch, is there really a need and did you learn any lesson from that? You know, I, is this what they call as, uh, uh, you know, uh, testing the market if there is a real need running a pilot,

Raghu Pandey: you know, the more ruthless, uh, way of terming this is problem in search of a solution.

Djagmo: Problem. Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Problem in surge

Raghu Pandey: of solution. And uh, I take it from the Y Combinator jar, right? Or they're, they're pretty blunt in putting it.

Djagmo: There is no problem to solve, but then you've solved something and you're looking for a problem. Uh, just cause

Raghu Pandey: Exactly. That's what is Yeah, that's what, so I, I, I know blockchain, a blockchain coming a, let's say, let's design, ah, imagine blockchain.

Raghu Pandey: Yeah,

Djagmo: yeah, yeah. Got it. Got it.

Raghu Pandey: So partly we were doing that. So 50% we were, uh, startup having a solution in search of a problem. Correct. Got

Djagmo: it. That's what I branched was, and then, you know, I know at the,

Raghu Pandey: the first time, did I say solution in search of a problem or so? Problem in search of problem

Djagmo: in search of a thing is solution.

Djagmo: You said that

Raghu Pandey: that's the right way. Sorry. Sorry. We were a solution of In search

Djagmo: of a problem. Yes. Yeah, yeah. Correctly. Yeah. Problem in search of a solution is organic. You have a problem. You said it's perfect. It's perfect. Yeah. But you said solution such that that's how it should be.

Raghu Pandey: Yeah. Yeah. We, we had a solution in search of a problem, right.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, 50%. Yes. We were that and 50%. We did understand that how the, uh, knowledge sharing is just not happening in colleges. Right. So here, here comes the difference between a latent need and an expressed demand from the client. Right? Right. So let's say the latent need of a young professional on a Saturday is to detox.

Raghu Pandey: Detox himself and meditate. But the expressed demand is going to a, having a ball of a time

Djagmo: in the night. Right, right, right. Yeah, makes sense. Makes sense.

Raghu Pandey: We were absolutely, absolutely right with the latent need of the client, right? Teachers need to collaborate and share knowledge with students. Students should have a 24 7 access to a knowledge sharing platform so that even after the class, when they are self-studying and having a doubt, they can put in a forums.

Raghu Pandey: How can students self-express themselves? They do not have any, uh, avenue in the college. If they want to share a knowledge, blogs is the best way, right? Where can all the, uh, events be scheduled? There should be a shared calendar. So the late need part, it was perfect for us to, you know, think about it.

Raghu Pandey: Design a, so design a solution around that, and few clients did appreciate that and Ibrance ran well till 2015 with those clients. Right? Got it. And they did, uh, adopt the new way of life in college. And it, it was an indispensable, unfortunately, just in

Djagmo: scale enough to,

Raghu Pandey: because, uh, and again, the third mistake was choosing a wrong market.

Raghu Pandey: Wrong market. Again, we did not have a choice was not for and central India. Yes, we were, but had we been in Bangalore, Haba, I think we could have got the critical mass, which is required for a STA startup too, you know, uh, that critical number of climb, right? Yeah. To survive and then grow, right? Uh, and again, it was, we didn't have a choice because coming to Bangalore or Haba would have required funding.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, and our fund fundraising, uh, exercise did not bear any fruit in those days. Uh, got it. We were, and I was very active in the, uh, entrepreneurship, uh, learning ecosystem with Thai. I, we hadad, you know, uh, we went into Thai nursing program of Pune. So all of those good things were happening, right? So the entrepreneurship, structured entrepreneurship education, uh, we were acquiring the right way, right?

Raghu Pandey: Uh, but the market size of the product that we are working was not the one visas go after. It wasn't a billion dollar market, right? So, I, many Visas told us that you have revenues, you have a team, you have the soft product in place, but it's, it's not the market size that we invest in. So all the best. So that's why we remained in a market, which did not give us the critical number of clients.

Raghu Pandey: However, it could have been done much better. So it was not, uh, you know, It was not a completely kind of thing. There is no option at all. We did not do the marketing research and strategizing. I would say market strategy was not the best. Got it.

Djagmo: No, this is a, this is a very insightful, uh, part I would suggest, you know, just to reiterate to the listeners, you know, especially you are aspiring to do something, uh, I think this applies, uh, even today.

Djagmo: Look, you could be an expert in something, come rules. You could, uh, be very passionate about something. But you, I think no matter what you need to check if people want what you're offering, uh, absolutely. Just, uh, just validating based on the latent need doesn't translate to express demand is what I would take away from this conversation.

Djagmo: And, um, it also reminds me of, uh, you know, I'm, I'm, you know, I love watching movies and, uh, I love, uh, you know, watching certain directors talk and certain producers talk. Mm-hmm. And then there was this recent, uh, thing. Mm-hmm. I just can't help linking, uh, uh, you know, there was a director who meets a producer and then, you know, he says, you know what?

Djagmo: I have an amazing story. Uh, you won't even move an inch to get some water. You'll be like, two hours. You'll be listening. I'll have your complete attention. And then he completes telling a story. And then the producer was also very impressed. He was like, amazing stuff. He didn't move to Keigo, get some water.

Djagmo: The producer straight out declined. Look, it's an amazing story, man, but I don't think this is what people want to watch. Uh, so yeah, uh, something like that, you know, I just broaden this because it's more relatable really, uh, entertainment cause selling constantly. It's like that, especially in the education field, right?

Djagmo: It is. You know, everybody start off doing some noble stuff, but bus education unfortunately is that aspect of life where people do it for the no option. Not many of them do it out of passion and stuff like that, you know, so it is always a difficult market. And, um, coming back to I branch Ragu at the peak, what was your team

Raghu Pandey: size?

Raghu Pandey: Uh, Nate was a small team back then, uh, because, uh, we had smartly outsourced our server management in the later years, uh, to a cloud company. Um, and, uh, we had three people in the core team and then there was an extended, uh, team of trainers with us, so. Got it. . It was a pretty small team, not a, not a big one.

Raghu Pandey: Got

Djagmo: it. So Ragu, um, going back to, you know, when you diagnose the problem, you are trying to solve it, you identify something called as internet maturity, you go about evangelizing intern maturity, and then I'm sure you know, something happened there and that is what led to the birth of I. Sure. Can you walk us through that entire journey of transition from I branch to I metho, what exactly happened?

Raghu Pandey: Sure. So as I said, I made a very sincere effort of bridging that knowledge gap of people, right, of those students. And with the hope that if they are now aware about the avenues of sharing knowledge online and building a career using internet, if they're aware about that, they would use it With that assumption, I made a very sincere effort.

Raghu Pandey: Lot of, uh, presentations, lot of workshops around that. So although it did not result into a behavior change, uh, which I had wrongly diagnosed as a knowledge gap problem, it was basically a behavior modification problem. Okay. But anyhow, I had accumulated a lot of content around internet maturity. I had, uh, you know, designed a structure for that skill gap.

Raghu Pandey: And actually internet maturity emerged as a concept rather than just a presentation topic. Okay. And, and, uh, I could see a curriculum, uh, evolving around it. Okay. So since I had all of those things, so when we decided to, you know, shut down I branch, the first thing I wanted to do was, you know, before I start anything, let me just monetize all that stuff that I have got.

Raghu Pandey: Right? It was as simple as deciding to monetize all that content, which I have developed around, uh, internet maturity and this new concept of internet maturity. Right. I decided to convert it into a book. Okay. Uh, I thought that, you know, there is a possibility that there is, there can be a business around, uh, This, this knowledge.

Raghu Pandey: Let's start with the book. Right. So I took, uh, although the content was ready with me, but I did not want to come out with a, you know, a textbook kind of thing. Right. Uh, it would have been very, very boring text for students to go to, you know, swallow one bitter pill of chapter and another bitter pill of chapter on social networking.

Raghu Pandey: Then professional networking, then discussion forums, so it would've put to sleep any normal human. Uh, I decided to make it interesting. So I spent good two years in finishing that book project and dedicating almost my full year of, uh, full-time. Uh, and it, I, I came out with a book, which was not only India's first book mm-hmm.

Raghu Pandey: On the topic. Mm-hmm. Uh, but also I. Uh, pulled an innovation there that I delivered the entire knowledge of internet maturity through a story. Mm-hmm. And that was the inspiration from, uh, the episode of Geha wherein UR learns from Krishna Right. The highest of the life lessons. Right. So I, you know, adapted that concept, but made it lighthearted.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Origin one character, another character, Kris, a being a student of grade 12, just about to get, uh, hoping to get the best student award. But, uh, the principal says that there is another guy called Alo who did amazing in his self-learning, right. Courses. So you might, we might give that award to him, but if you can, you know, uh, develop these internet maturity skills for you will have a chance.

Raghu Pandey: So he, uh, he's recommended to, uh, a corporate guy called Kris, uh, who can mentor this guy, UR. To become internet mature in, in, in some time. So urgent goes to Kris, and Kris and RG have a very lighthearted conversation throughout those chapters, which I've designed. Uh, so that took me a lot of time and because as a student, I, you know, all those books were pretty boring.

Raghu Pandey: Right. However, I'm, I, I used to be very curious about the subjects, very curious about the topics, but the books were pretty boring. I did not want to, you know, uh, do repeat the same crime of content creators. Okay. Uh, and probably that seeded what the mindset that I have today. I want to build a 21st century education ecosystem around, you know, wherein there should not be a differentiation.

Raghu Pandey: Differentiation between entertainment and education. Right.

Djagmo: Right. Exactly.

Raghu Pandey: Or, or in a different way. Entertainment done, right? Yeah. And entertainment done. Right. There is a entertainment existing since, you know, early days of discovery in entertainment. Entertainment. There is, yeah. But I still see a need for doing it.

Raghu Pandey: Right? Hmm. Yeah. So, yeah. So, uh, I was talking about the evolution, uh, of Ima U Book came out in 2014. Um, and it did receive a good, uh, response from people, from educators, from parents, uh, two schools in bur to premium schools in bur, uh, agreed to add this into their, uh, curriculum. Compulsory, uh, yeah. As a compulsory part of the curriculum for teenage students.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Uh, as a result of that pilot project. Uh, you know, uh, it was all positive outcomes. Uh, the students, the teachers, the school management, the parents all loved the intent of the program and the content of the program. But the only issue was the delivery. Right. The book. Right. It the students who like reading books, they loved it, but they were a small percentage of the crowds.

Raghu Pandey: Yeah. Uh, hardly 5% of students like to read books these days. Right. Uh, the vast majority do not pick up books to learn something from that. Right. Uh, so that's where I decided that you cannot, you know, deliver this content through a book, it has to be multimedia. Right. That was the number one motivation for me to transition from books to what we are today.

Raghu Pandey: Mm-hmm. Gamified online courses. Mm-hmm. Number two was, Positioning. Right. Uh, whenever I approach the school and I, I, I told them that I have this product called Book, uh, immediately, uh, our identity changed from that of an expert in digital citizenship and entered maturity to that of a book seller. Ah, and then you are equated with all other booksellers who were waiting for principal to meet them and discuss, you know, all the things that they discussed with principal seller.

Raghu Pandey: I was actually expecting

Djagmo: a different sort of a thing. I thought, you know, after the book, you would've been looked at as a thought leader, as an author, but it was a bummer that, you know, it went to a book seller. Okay.

Raghu Pandey: I, no, I got that dividend out of the book, you know, getting that identity of a thought leader and, uh, and somebody pioneering that concept came only after that book, so that, that benefit certainly came out and it, it is still existing today.

Raghu Pandey: Okay. But that's the positioning of an individual, right? That's the positioning of Ragu Pane as the pioneer or the thought leader of DCM education in India. Right? But when we translate that into business, we are talking about going to a school and convincing them that, okay, 800 students of your grade, eight to grade 12 need to be given this course.

Raghu Pandey: And the course is delivered through this book. And certainly the dynamics of the talks changed from the person, Ragu Pane or the entrepreneur, Ragu Pane, selling a product. Selling a product.

Djagmo: Got it. Selling a book,

Raghu Pandey: positioning of the company was the problem. Mm. So I see. I was getting workshop in whites and all those things left invited.

Djagmo: I was enjoying at this point you were proper iur, you're, you have moved on from I Branch to ime. Sure.

Raghu Pandey: Yeah. The brand I met Sure had emerged already because, uh, the book was called Become an I Mature Student. Mm-hmm. So the term had already been coined while I was writing my book. Uh, but the company hadn't come up yet.

Raghu Pandey: Okay.

Djagmo: Uh, you are not clear about the business model I made sure privately

Raghu Pandey: Indeed. Yeah. And this is what came out, uh, of my pilot projects with, uh, schools. Right. That, uh, this business cannot be, you know, positioning will not happen correctly if you are only selling book. And also scale up was number three, motivation in the last one, which, uh, forced me to, you know, change the product.

Raghu Pandey: Mm-hmm. Was scaling up. Right. Um, I, I was pretty ambitious to scale up PanIN, India and global. So Right. With that cannot happen with books and physical workshops. Yeah. Yeah. Not, not happen. Simply cannot happen.

Djagmo: Yeah. You'll be a trainer then. Oh, you know, you'll be a probably max. You can reach as a celebrity

Raghu Pandey: trainer, mo, uh, celebrity trainer and to run the business or the company based on that, we would have the DNA of a publisher.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Not that of a expert in a domain. Right. So you are printing a thousand books, delivering, looking at damages, returning and all those. That's the DNA of a publisher, right? So for these three reasons, uh, we decided to, you know, go towards online courses as the mode of delivery to students. So two years I took to transition from, uh, a book to online course.

Raghu Pandey: And in that process, uh, formed a new company. Uh, one of my earlier school day friends joined me as a co-founder. Hmm. And yes, and since then, now we are on this journey. Only the, uh, two years in Covid was a pause button for us. Got it. Uh, we did homework in those days, but, uh, clients were not at all looking at anything new in education.

Raghu Pandey: So it was a pause, uh, market pause for

Djagmo: us. Got it. Ragu. So Ragu, uh, going back to, you know, uh, let me kind of, you know, put this together. So you are doing, I branch, you diagnose there's a problem, behavior problem. Mm-hmm. Uh, you know, people not being able to identify the value of internet and then use it, uh, the way it can be used.

Djagmo: Uh, and that's where you, you talk about internet maturity, you end up writing a book and then, you know, uh, you get this reputation. You're going, giving workshops, schools incorporating your book as a compulsory part of children's education, a couple of schools. Now this is going in a certain direction. Um, you know, it's a, it's a state of flux maybe now from here to I Met Sure.

Djagmo: Right. From being Rago Pane who was going to schools, offering workshops, trying to sell books, or at least perceived as a guy who's coming to sell books. And I met Sure. Today, what is the difference? How did the evolution happen and what is the business model now?

Raghu Pandey: Okay. So, uh, as of now, uh, we are, uh, the product portfolio that we are coming out with is, uh, five online courses,

Djagmo: uh, sorry, uh, five online

Raghu Pandey: courses.

Raghu Pandey: Okay. Online courses targeted towards teenagers. Okay. Out of those five courses, one has already been launched since 2019, but as I said, two years of covid were paused, completely paused for us. Okay. So one online course, uh, is available in the market, four more in the pipeline. Uh, we are working to gamify those.

Raghu Pandey: So for the listeners who do not understand what gamification is, it's a very simple concept. Uh, just like video games have so many elements to keep a person hooked from one stage to another, from achieving one milestone to another in that game. Right. The same elements, just like, you know, giving you a score for every activity, uh, making you compete with others.

Raghu Pandey: People's score, telling them that he's the leader or she's the leader right now. Try to beat him. Uh, giving some goodies at, you know, virtual goodies or even physical ones, uh, after completion of every activity. Ragu,

Djagmo: sorry to interrupt, sorry. Yeah. Uh, you know, I'm getting this no problem part again, you know?

Djagmo: Mm-hmm. I'm, I'm like, I just realized I don't mean to sound negative or something. I just want to bring this to you to find out, you know, if you, if you also looked at it like the c I branch. Mm-hmm. You, we, uh, both agree that, you know, uh, the latent need was there, express demand wasn't there. Mm-hmm. Now mm-hmm.

Djagmo: I met Sure. Have you done that analysis? Is it, are you still on the latent need? Is there express demand? Because I feel, uh, again, you know, you are having courses, but again, you are trying to solve the problem of having people to complete adopt. Right? So, sorry, this is the thought I got. Are you s you know, did you also, oh,

Raghu Pandey: that's a very, very good question.

Raghu Pandey: In fact, I wanted to connect that when we are discussing, uh, you know, solution in such of a problem thing, right? Uh, and it's a very pertinent question. Fortunately, now we have crossed the boundary, okay? However, we are still in that zone wherein the expressed demand for a solution from the clients is very loud, okay?

Raghu Pandey: The, they, the parents and the schools want a solution for this problem that is overused, misuse, and risky use of the internet by children. Okay? So the express demand for a solution to this problem is very large, validated is, and Okay. Great. For persisting. Yeah. Persisting every day. Probably one of the highest priorities of a parent and educator these days is to solve this overuse, misuse and risk use of the digital devices by children.

Raghu Pandey: Got it. Internet by children. However, what is not expressed clearly is the solution of digital citizenship and internet maturity education. Hmm. That is what is the awareness gap that we are trying to, uh, fight right now. But it is both of a challenge and an opportunity. Got it. Since this, since this vast number of clients, B2C and B2B that we can cater to, all of them have that problem.

Raghu Pandey: So it is a vast opportunity mm-hmm. That they want the solution. Mm-hmm. But the challenge is that they do not know the name of the solution, so they cannot come finding us. Right. Right. So if you have a sports injury, you will go to a orthopedic surgeon or, or a physiotherapist, you know these names or a sports medicine person, you know these names, right?

Raghu Pandey: But a parent and a principle today does not explicitly call out, I want a digital citizenship company to come and do this first. Right, right, right. That is happening in us. So we are in a sweet spot in India wherein we are the categories unknown, but that is where we can take the lead and become, we can dominate.

Raghu Pandey: The market

Djagmo: problem is there, but people still don't know what is the solution or who's offering the solution. But problem is there. Exactly.

Raghu Pandey: And exactly. And we are seeing the trend in us where it has already become a regular subject in schools. And now the teachers are required for teaching digital citizenship.

Raghu Pandey: Now parents are talking about digital citizenship lessons. Uh, the US government, uh uh, Not the government, but yeah. Uh, uh, one of the senators is, uh, bringing a bill for digital citizenship and media literacy education in the US Senate. So that, that way now it is well validated that it is a clear problem.

Raghu Pandey: There is an express demand for a solution, and the global trends are towards digital citizenship being that solution to that problem. So, uh, we have, we are confide, we cannot be Gods and foresee that we are going to win, but we are confident that we have picked the winning candidate and bring it into Indian

Djagmo: market.

Djagmo: Got it. Uh, so I see that, you know, you found a way to validate that there is, uh, so you've, uh, you know, figured out a way and you are confident that, you know, there is expressed demand and you've validated it your own way. Now Ragu, uh, just coming outta Ima Sure. A little bit to the listeners, you know, who might be, you know, aspiring knowledge entrepreneurs and you know, who might be building some product and who might be in the, uh, latent need validation mindset.

Djagmo: You know, how does one, uh, validate if there is expressed demand or not? Is there a method you've cracked? Is there anything that you can share?

Raghu Pandey: The, it's the old-fashioned way of immersing yourself with the clients. Okay. You know, I, there is no, uh, smart or a genius way of figuring out whether the demand.

Raghu Pandey: Exists, uh, latently or patently? You know, I don't know that method. The only method I know is spending a lot of time with your customers, right? So if in my case it is, uh, teachers and principals and parents, right? So we did spend a lot of time talking to them, uh, hearing them out, uh, you know, separating the false positives and also the false negatives.

Raghu Pandey: So I'm not claiming that I have done the perfect job of, uh, uh, you know, selecting the right feedback from the market, but we have spent a lot of time with these people. Got it. And that is when you can, you know, clear off the wrong assumptions that you are walking with. I, I, as an entrepreneur, I call assumptions as the biggest enemies of any entrepreneur, right?

Raghu Pandey: Whether it is EdTech or any other business. So immersing yourself with the client. Great. Uh, Is the way to clear off those assumptions and figuring All, figuring out

Djagmo: it. Yeah. Yeah,

Raghu Pandey: yeah, yeah. Got it. And, and, and this book called Zero To One is an amazing book for entrepreneurs to be Peter Thiel, where Peter th Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Raghu Pandey: He suggests that you have to, if you want to champion, uh, some market segment, then you have to select an underserved category where there is demand and which is invisible from other people's eyes. And that is where the challenge is. You know, are you jumping into that solution in such of a problem domain?

Raghu Pandey: Right. Or actually you have stepped on a, uh, opportunity, which is not seen by others, but it exists. Right? So you have to spend time to validate whether it exists, right. If you find that out, then you have to take the risk of your life and go after it.

Djagmo: Got it. Ragu great. I mean, uh, this is very, uh, insightful and interesting.

Djagmo: Um, Ragu now, uh, you know, talking about, I met Sure. I see, you know, on the website B C I M, right. Digital citizenship and internet maturity. Now, uh, I think I've probably gone way ahead, but let me step back. What is digital citizenship and internet maturity?

Raghu Pandey: Okay. Digital citizenship and internet maturity is a set of skills mm-hmm.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, which empower anyone. Mm-hmm. Uh, to make the best use of internet for education and career and stay safe from all the threats and risks of internet. So it is a set of 10 skills. It starts from understanding what is Web 2.0, which is the new form of internet, which has caused all the aspects of digital life that we are living in.

Raghu Pandey: Okay. It starts with user to user networking and user generated content. That's, that is at the root of our digital lives today. Uh, understanding that, differentiating it from the old form of internet. So it starts from there. Okay? Then number two is how to create and share digital content, right? And how to share it online, right?

Raghu Pandey: This, this is the digital literacy. So let people should not confuse between digital literacy being synonymous with digital citizenship. No. Uh, digital literacy is all about can you create digital content? Can you share it online? So that's the number two skill. Number three is where real internet maturity starts.

Raghu Pandey: And uh, number three is mature way of social networking, right? Then mature way of professional networking. Then, uh, online forum discussion skills. Uh, then next one is self-expression through blogs. And we are not just talking about how to create a blog, how to publish a post. We are talking about strategically presenting your knowledge through blogs where it, where can, it can be very different format of blogging, right?

Raghu Pandey: So that is self-expression through blogs. The next comes is, uh, smart searching skills to find trustworthy and legally usable knowledge through Google and, you know, managing your own knowledge depository. Then next is, uh, making the best use of online courses and open course fair, uh, for self-learning and skill development.

Raghu Pandey: Right? Then the ninth skill is, uh, which is a huge topic in itself, but in the list of these things, it's just one line item. It is, uh, staying safe from online threats and risks. Mm-hmm. Threats are external. There are various external threats, right? And risks are internal. You, yourself can become an addict and cause a lot of issues for you.

Raghu Pandey: Got it. You can yourself ruin your own all. And so, uh, it's a huge topic, but one line item, finally, what we call as the black belt of internet maturity, right? Is, uh, creating a positive online reputation for yourself to attract the right kind of opportunities you want in life, right? In your professional life and in your personal life.

Raghu Pandey: So these 10 skills translate into, uh, all of these courses that we are designing. This is D C I M, basically.

Djagmo: Got it. Ragu, uh, great. So interesting because, um, Correct me if I'm wrong. I think, uh, you know, what you've, uh, created, uh, reminded me of something. Now, you know, we, uh, you know, me representing Edison Os um, is, you know, we are a LMS company.

Djagmo: Right. Uh, if I have to like put it in simple terms, it's a very advanced kind of a platform which helps people create courses, especially trainers who want to like launch their own academic. Now, one of the problems mm-hmm. Every. Educator faces, especially when it comes to online learning. Mm-hmm. If it is not live classes, if it is self-paced courses mm-hmm.

Djagmo: It is a course completion rate. Mm-hmm. And one of the problems that a lot of people are trying to solve in the area, of course completion, uh, uh, sorry, in the area of, uh, courses, people who sell courses is how to get people to complete the courses because, you know, yeah, you sell your courses, but if you, they don't really complete the course, then you know you are losing out on them recommending your courses to somebody else.

Djagmo: And it's a chain of reactions. Absolutely. I think, uh, absolutely. Uh, uh, have you seen this as a market for your product? You know, these people can really benefit of your product because if, if the students are made to start, you know, may not be an exhaustive version of whatever you're offering, but maybe a very condensed version of this could probably help them go and complete the courses.

Djagmo: Is that, uh, a solution that you know, is that a problem your product can

Raghu Pandey: solve? Uh, not the most prominent pain points I would say, but definitely one of the most important outcomes can be that students, or rather it is designed to be that students learn to strategically choose online courses and then complete them.

Raghu Pandey: Get the certificate, uh, put it in the right view on your LinkedIn, you know, you know, flaunt your new knowledge for the benefit of, so the D C I M course, you know, trains a student to do that, right? However, we, ourselves being an online education company, are facing this challenge and we are very well aware about it.

Raghu Pandey: That is why gamification is a core strategy in our right, right. Uh, in our company. In fact, if you, if you see in the backdrop, there is a frame invoice, there is a dna, uh, shape. You can see here, there is, there is, and here we have listed what things are in the DNA n for a company. And gamification is a prominent, prominent part of it, right?

Raghu Pandey: Because, uh, that is the holy grail of the online education industry right now. Okay. Uh, if you see the live classes mm-hmm. Can scale only to a certain level, a certain number of students. Right, right. Right. A teacher can handle what, 5,000 if you or she's got than 200 students in a class. Right, right, right.

Raghu Pandey: What, beyond that, but the industry is looking at the scale of teaching a million students through one course. That is why MOOCs are called massive open. Yeah. Online courses. Yeah. The word massive shows the intent behind the industry. Right. And that intent can be fulfilled through course, through solutions, which can, you know, really, uh, motivate a student to learn throughout the course.

Raghu Pandey: Got it. And gamification is one most prominent approach. So, although I am answering your question in a different way, but I believe more than the education of DC Im, which is, see, we, we are putting our foot down in the industry and calling it the most important subject. Right? Right. Uh, this, this green, green frame here will show you that hashtag most important, hashtag most important subject.

Raghu Pandey: Yes. We are going ahead and sounding crazy to people that, is it more important than math, English, and social science. And science? Yes, it is. Yeah. Because

Djagmo: it's gonna help people kind of get onto that, um, courses a little bit.

Raghu Pandey: Exactly. This is the foundation for your entire learning and education, which includes a lot of online learning.

Raghu Pandey: Online learning. So to answer your question specifically, all online learners have to be internet, otherwise they're not online learners. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But to answer this to an entrepreneur, right, that, what are you doing to ensure high course completion rates? I would advise, bro, go for gamification.

Raghu Pandey: Right, right. So foundation is D C I M. Um, definitely that is the foundation, but your real results will

Djagmo: be through gamification. No, I get it. Even you are saying that even for people to complete the course of D C I M, you are employing the gamification tools. Yes, yes, yes. So to all the knowledge entrepreneurs that are listening and you know, who run, uh,

Raghu Pandey: in fact, that is the only thing that is going to give us a patent in a couple of years.

Raghu Pandey: Okay. Otherwise, uh, otherwise the knowledge industry, uh, it is very difficult to have a patent table. Uh, correct. There's no US technology with you. Yeah. You, you are not, uh, you are not developing anything proprietary Correct. In

Djagmo: tech. Correct. Correct. Correct. Correct. Correct.

Raghu Pandey: You, you're delivering it your own way.

Raghu Pandey: You have the trademarks. You can have the copyrights, you can have the other IPRs, but not, uh, patent. So this is, that's serious. We are about gamification.

Djagmo: Great. Um, so yeah, I think, uh, A very important thing, uh, uh, a major problem. One of the pertinent problems that are being, uh, you know, uh, that are, uh, you know, that people are trying to solve today, who are having platforms where they sell self-based courses.

Djagmo: This course completion rates, right? Because, uh, people are offering today no questions asked, refund. And if you're going to, you know, go to that level, obviously, you know, post completion is gonna be very important and gamification comes into the picture for that. Uh, got it. Ragu, Ragu, uh, I'd like to like, you know, step aside a little bit and then, you know, um, ask a different question related to ime.

Djagmo: When I was on your website and I was trying to figure out, okay, how much is the course, I didn't see any pricing. What one course you have, bci. Okay.

Raghu Pandey: Uh, yeah, we have released one course and pricing was there, it is there on the website. Maybe you, uh, missed, uh, seeing it. It's not very prominently displayed.

Raghu Pandey: We are selling it for ru uh, 1,280 for, uh, one time enrollment fees.

Djagmo: Right. Got it, got it. And uh, D C I M is only course you have now four more courses are in the pipeline.

Raghu Pandey: Right. So this is D C I M powers Digital Citizenship and Intent Maturity Powers. Basically, this is the foundation course which takes a student through all these skills that ied a while back.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Uh, and lays the foundation for student to learn the advanced level of courses, but it covers the entire curriculum of digital citizenship in one course.

Djagmo: Got it. And the formal courses are, uh, extension of D C I M itself. Is, is that what you're trying to say?

Raghu Pandey: Advanced levels, right? So one of one, one course would then focus on digital footprints and online reputation.

Raghu Pandey: Another one would focus on collaboration skills over internet, then cyber laws and ethics and safety. So these are advanced courses then? Yeah. Got

Djagmo: it. Great. Ragu now, uh, you know, uh, stepping out a little bit from D C I M or you know, looking at ime. Sure. As a business, you know, you are another course creator.

Djagmo: You're out there to sell your courses. You think gamification is a way to go about and all those things, but, uh, what are the strategies you're employing to sell? Uh, how are you, you know, what are your marketing plans? Do you have things in place? What are your targets?

Raghu Pandey: Right. Uh, see, during the course of entrepreneurship, I learned this concept of this concept of sales funnel.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Uh, which beautifully articulates how a customer, you know, gets into your, uh, lab as a paying customer. Right. Uh, and now all of our strategies are around the concept of salesmen. So when we understand that at the top layer, it is the awareness of the client, right? Then the interest comes up in the client's mind, and then finally the client takes a decision to pay.

Raghu Pandey: Right? Right. So right now, our mo the majority of our activities are focused towards the awareness stage of the funnel, because that is what is missing in our, uh, pro prospective clients. Got it. They are, uh, as I said, very vocal about the problem of overuse, misusing rescues of internet. Okay. And they want a solution.

Raghu Pandey: Okay? Uh, but they are not aware about D C I M being the solution. Okay. So our work strategy for this year is to, uh, execute an awareness campaign called Every Child Internet Mature.

Djagmo: I see that also behind, yeah.

Raghu Pandey: This is a reminder wall. Yeah. So when I walk in here, you know, they should be so, right. Uh, uh, every child internet mature is, uh, going to be, uh, very important marketing exercise for us, right?

Raghu Pandey: Wherein we are going to approach all kinds of organizations to help us spread awareness on a very specific thing, right? D CM is the solution to that problem, right? We are not going to spread awareness on the problem itself because it is existing, right? We don't have to re make parents realize that this is the problem.

Raghu Pandey: They are realizing. Yeah, we just have to fill that awareness gap. D C I M being this solution, solution to this problem, right? Solution. Yeah. So that we are going to do for this year and from the next year onwards, we are planning to, uh, adopt the traditional digital marketing and inbound marketing strategies to, uh, start selling online.

Raghu Pandey: Got it.

Djagmo: As much as possible. Yeah. It's, it's pretty straightforward and simple when you say that, you know, you're trying straightforward to, uh, you're trying to, you know, um, make people aware that D C I M is a solution given that the problem is acknowledged, but what are the specific methods? Yeah. Do you already have things in plan?

Djagmo: You know, how are you gonna go do this? It's not gonna be easy. Right? It's straightforward. Yes, but not right. So what are the methods

Raghu Pandey: E, exactly. Exactly, exactly. So, uh, again, uh, talking in reference to that sales funnel, uh, our funnel is awareness, engagement, enrollment. So, uh, the normal funnel is awareness.

Raghu Pandey: Interesting decision. Our funnel is awareness, engagement, enrollment. So as soon as we make a client aware that, okay, there is something called D C I M for you to know about. Mm-hmm. We want to give them an engagement product, a free product. Got it. So if it is a school, uh, we are giving them a free toolkit to start a D C I M club in their school, comprising of certain number of students and teachers, right?

Raghu Pandey: So year long, these students and teachers are going to do some activities around D C m, get benefited out of those activities, and the school will get warmed up to accept this as a product. Uh, for the parent, we are about to, uh, launch a free digital parenting app. So currently, uh, all the apps with which parents have today are parental control software.

Raghu Pandey: So I can, I have, I can have Google family's, um, uh, app and I can see what my child is doing and I can control his or her screen time. All those technical aspects of parental control exist with apps today, right. Today. But, uh, uh, an app which helps a parent become a better digital parent can help a parent to guide the behavior of the child.

Raghu Pandey: Right. That is not existing. So the, to emphasize on how important this is, uh, you know, the behavior, the modification side, we, we are actually a psychology company more than a technology company. Right. Right. And the only two full-time people in my team right now are psychologists. Wow.

Djagmo: Okay. Apart from

Raghu Pandey: me.

Raghu Pandey: Got it. That, that is how, you know, important this thing is. Right. Uh, The behavior modification side. So that's the strategy. Uh, get two engagement products, one for b2b, one for b2c, and let people use it, and then they can flow further into the funnel and become our customers.

Djagmo: Got it. Interesting. And when you say, you know, you're gonna go, uh, create, uh, some sort of a club in schools, D C I M, you know, whatever plans.

Djagmo: Yeah. So the first step is to reach out schools, right? Yeah. So how do you have a target by the end of this year? You need to reach out to so many schools across such, such, uh, such and such location.

Raghu Pandey: Yes, we do want to start. Uh, it's an ambitious target. We do want to see, uh, 500 DCM clubs running this, uh, year.

Raghu Pandey: Okay. Uh, and to be honest, there is, we are still finalizing the strategy of reaching out. So this every child internet mature campaign, uh, is designed towards that, but we are yet to launch it.

Djagmo: Okay. Got it. Uh, so, uh, you said, uh, you are three people in your team of ime. Sure. Right. So, uh,

Raghu Pandey: I mean three full-time people, otherwise we have partners also.

Djagmo: Yeah. Partners. Got it. Great. Yeah. And, uh, are you funded at this point?

Raghu Pandey: No, we are not funded. We are, uh, although, uh, you know, we have been incubated at good incubation centers earlier. Okay. Uh, that support we have got, uh, currently, uh, we are into some programs, some prominent programs, uh, like impact orbit from Im, uh, Bangalore, uh, liftoff program from Bani, uh, foundation.

Raghu Pandey: Right. Uh, then also an impact assessment program from belgrove. Right. So these are some prominent programs that we are enrolled in and we are hopeful of, uh, raising funds these year upon completion of these programs.

Djagmo: And, uh, what is the platform that you're using, uh, to

Raghu Pandey: host these courses? Uh, as I said, uh, uh, my team already has the, uh, knowledge of management, content management system called.new, yeah. Dna. It's the short form is d n. Got it. So, uh, we are leveraging that. Okay. Uh, however, we are open to looking at all, uh, sorts of technology stacks, uh, that is not going to be, uh, priority.

Raghu Pandey: The core of our company, the core is the knowledge part only. Got it. So we, we are open to explore more technologies also, but currently that is serving us well. So we are sticking to it.

Djagmo: Got it. Ragu, um, Ragu, uh, I think I am, I've come to the end of all my questions. I think I've, I've, I've, I've got a very deep understanding of, you know, Uh, what you do, your journey and, you know, uh, what has led you to this point.

Djagmo: And I'm sure the listeners also, especially if they are in the, in the domain of creating and selling courses, lot of insights, right? Um, very basic, you know, I'd like, like summarize it like this, right? One important thing is, you know, if people already know you, whatever you're creating is the solution for a particular problem.

Djagmo: Then it boils down to gamification for your post completion and then your, um, conventional, uh, sales funnel and the digital marketing strategies. But if you are, uh, you know, uh, I'm sure there are many people who are creating, uh, solutions, uh, for existing problems that people still aren't aware that this is a solution.

Djagmo: You are in the D C I M domain, but I'm sure there are a lot of other domains. I think, um, what you've, um, uh, shared about. First bringing, uh, awareness amongst people and the plan that you have. I think that's a lot of insight for people to go back with. And it's also, you know, for people to know that, hey, you know what, there are a lot of other people like them out there who have solutions, uh, to problems that are existing, but people aren't aware that there is a solution.

Djagmo: It can be a very lonely space, right? And it can also be a little deep and discouraging, but, uh, powering through all these things and then, you know, having a clear cut plan, uh, about, you know, this year to raise awareness, uh, in a very concrete way. It's amazing. And, um, I think what you're doing, Ragu, is I think it's gonna be mainstream very soon from now because, uh, it's very interesting.

Djagmo: That's Steve.

Raghu Pandey: Yeah. That, that's the idea all about, to make it mainstream. I mean, that's what the, uh, effort is all

Djagmo: about. Yeah. It's gonna become mainstream because, you know, these days kids as young as five, six years are exposed to internet and, uh, you can't expect them to kind of understand certain things by themselves.

Djagmo: And, uh, maybe government may bring it just like, you know how there is this driver's license concept before you ride your bike. I am sure, you know, D C I M could be that license. You need to finish the course before a kid opens an account on the internet. I think, uh, that could I, I see that.

Raghu Pandey: Thank you, and, uh, I'm so happy that I didn't bring that out and it came out from you after listening this concept, if you can see another, this yellow colored, uh, orange colored frame here.

Raghu Pandey: Oh,

Djagmo: yeah, yeah, yeah. This is

Raghu Pandey: our, right, right. This is our trademark. This is called internet license, right? No, because

Djagmo: I was,

Raghu Pandey: I'm so, so happy to hear that coming from you and not me telling that upfront. Right. Uh, yeah. Yeah. Actually it's internet license is how we are convincing parents to Yeah.

Djagmo: No, no, no. It makes complete sense to me because, you know, uh, I was, you know, as I talked to you, I was just thinking of my niece.

Djagmo: I have a four year old niece, four and a half years old niece, and, you know, uh, she's already, uh, watching YouTube and all those things. And, you know, uh, it's a, it's a, it's a, it's a very gray, uh, area for us to discuss, you know, we are, Somehow, uh, hoping that, you know, she doesn't get exposed to stuff and you know, internet is also doing a good job.

Djagmo: YouTube is doing a good job by having algorithms. If it identifies that this user is watching kids, it's gonna only show kids, but still kids. Yeah. Uh, probably when she's seven, eight, she's gonna be exposed to a lot of other things and, um, oh yeah, this, this definitely to me it comes across like, uh, uh, you know, government should bring in an initiative that says, you know what?

Djagmo: It is mandatory for kids to go through this, or school should bring in a thing. You know, it is mandatory for kids to go through this before they get access to internet. And uh, right. I think you are looking at something, you are in the starting point of something big. That's how it comes across to me and I wish you know it.

Djagmo: Thank you. It takes that route. I mean, uh, great stuff, Ragu and, um,

Raghu Pandey: thank you. And allow me to, you know, reach out to you and your team with every child internet mature campaign. And we are going to, you know, express our. Absolutely desire to take support from you and

Djagmo: your team. Uh, I'll, you know what, I'll tell you how we could probably collaborate or contribute to this, because I mean, more than business, this, uh, comes across to me, um, as a very basic need, and it's a, it's a no-brainer value add.

Djagmo: So, uh, we are, you know, having clients who are offering courses to kids, right? And each one of these, um, uh, you know, uh, each one of our client, uh, I'm sure you know, they will understand, uh, uh, you know, uh, including this as part of their thing, um, uh, as you know, okay. You know, say for example, There is this client xyz.com.

Djagmo: They could definitely say that, you know what, we are a portal where kids can come and learn something, but before that, you know what, uh, it is a mandatory thing for your kid to go through this before, you know, doing that. I see that as a possibility. Lovely. And, uh, I will be happy to connect you with, uh, my team here and then, you know, you could see, you can see how you can take it forward

Raghu Pandey: from That's an amazing proposal.

Raghu Pandey: Thank you. I will definitely explore that.

Djagmo: It's a pleasure. Uh, it's only common sense I think for anybody who comes across this, and if they have in their capacity, uh, to connect you with somebody, I think they should. That's how I see it. Uh, but, uh, otherwise, it was a pleasure talking to you. Uh, very, very insightful.

Djagmo: Loved your journey. And, you know, uh, it just, uh, shows, you know, you are totally a social problem solver. That's how you come across at this point to me. And, um, uh, all the best struggle. Good luck to you and, uh, we'll be in touch, definitely j we'll see how we can

Raghu Pandey: contribute. And I must appreciate, uh, you as an interviewer here, that you know the way you, thank you, the way you structured and unstructured the, the entire interview.

Raghu Pandey: So I was okay. Thoroughly enjoying talking about myself, although it's, it's, it's pretty boring for me. But I enjoyed this talk.

Djagmo: Oh, no, it was, it was very interesting for me. You know, uh, it's a, it's a thing, right? I mean, I could literally see your, uh, 20 years of your journey that is coming. You know, what it takes, right?

Djagmo: I mean, because it's easy to kind of get lost. You know, what, uh, is an entrepreneur, you know, he is built this company. But then, uh, looking at what it takes for somebody 20 years of so many interlinked journeys, right? You didn't have this vision, but then you started something called the city Mala. You wanted to connect something, and then you started High Branch, and then you dive with the problem, and then you see that here is a gap, and then suddenly there is a big picture, larger scheme of things is what you're doing.

Djagmo: So I, for me, it's a beautiful journey and, uh, it's so organic. It's not like you planned it, but you know, it's just the way it is. So it's fascinating to me. Indeed. Yeah. Great. Thank you so much. Great. Actually, thank

Raghu Pandey: you so much, Jacque. It was such a pleasure and, and, and a big honor. Thank you.

Djagmo: Oh no. I mean, likewise for me as well.

Djagmo: Um, uh, I think, uh, down the line, uh, I'm gonna say, you know what? I interviewed Ragul a long time back, you know, not interviewed. You know, I had a chat with him and I learned so much first, and I'm not sure if you're gonna be having so much time in the future. Well, you made my day.

Raghu Pandey: Thank you. So

Djagmo: this podcast is brought to you by Edison os a no-code EdTech platform to operate an online education business.

Djagmo: Knowledge. Entrepreneurs can use Edison OS to sell online courses from their own websites, manage online masterclass, launch mobile learning apps, sell online practice tests for competitive exams, run online learning communities, digitizing their offline tutoring business, use it as a learning management system, and a lot more cases in the domain of knowledge commerce.

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