College Boy Borrowed Rs 60,000 From Parents, Now His Start-Up Is Worth Rs 5 Crore
There are enough memes on the internet ridiculing choosing engineering or chartered accountancy as a career option. But it stops there rather than pointing young minds to a fulfilling as well as a lucrative option. This was the topic of discussion among a few students in SRM, Chennai’s hostel room when Zeeshan realised that nobody around him was following their passion. Someone wanted to study economics, somebody fancied being a writer but all they were doing was studying subjects that did not stir interest in them.
At the age of 19, Zeeshan Mohammed did not know how to do market research or plan a growth chart but he knew that he had to stop youngsters like him from making poor, uninformed career choices which will stick with them for their entire lives. He borrowed Rs 60,000 from his parents and launched an magazine called The Climber (earlier know as Inking Pages) in 2013 when he was still in the second year of his college. He did this to help his juniors avoid making the same mistakes as they had made, and help them choose a field they would enjoy working in.
He initiated an editorial magazine to convey this message to high school students. His efforts have today grown into a network wherein college students become mentor to school students. They guide their juniors to discover and pursue their passion. His initiative was joined by his friends Sameer Ramesh, Fatema Hussain, and Ruhan Naqash.
They saw their efforts making lives of students better and decided to scale their operations. In April 2015, they launched a full-fledged mentoring platform called MyCaptain.in. The Climber is now a youth-run education startup which is currently incubated out of NSRCEL at IIM Bangalore. They organize events and workshops around specialized topics that give insights to youngsters on career choices.
“Apart from the workshops, we make students go through live examples. For instance, if someone is interested in psychology, we ask her to go and interact with her grandparents and examine generation gap,” said Zeeshan. There are a minimum of 20 people in every batch with mentors less than 25 years of age. Explaining the reason for the same, Zeeshan told Yourstory.
The reason mentors are so young is that we want the mentees to connect with them. We would like a person who has gone through the challenges recently, rather than having gone through circumstances 10-15 years ago, which might even be irrelevant today.
They get more than 200 people to sign up for their workshops every month at the cost of Rs 1,000. The Climber has serviced over 2,000 mentees till now. They are now developing app, too for android and iOS platforms. Not only this, they are also planning to integrate machine learning to understand how the students behave and make their choices. This will help them plan better workshops each time.
But all this hasn’t been easy for Teeshan and team. They faced challenges and soon ran into a debt. Thankfully, they met N Ram of the newspaper Hindu who advised them to make their product digital and things took off from there. Their consistent efforts are paying off and the start-up in now valued at Rs 5 crore.