Although the test prep business sector is crowded with an estimated 30,000 coaching schools and firms, it reflects well on the native spirit of enterprise that there’s no shortage of edupreneurs entering this highly competitive business. The latest entrants in this sector are Vivek Gupta (24), Mirik Gogri (23) and Nitesh Salvi (23) — final year metallurgy engineering students of IIT-Bombay (IIT-B). In 2011, the trio developed and registered Plancess Edu-Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based e-learning company, which they believe offers students a more “affordable, convenient and effective’’ test prep methodology to top the IIT-JEE, AIEEE and other engineering entrance exams.
The story of Plancess started in 2009, when the trio brainstormed about ways and means to ride the new ICT (information communication tech-nology) wave and take test prep way beyond coaching classes. In 2011, with the help of the entrepreneurial cell (E-Cell) of IIT-B — established in 1998 for young entrepreneurs to incubate high potential business ideas — the team raised venture capital of Rs.5 lakh from the Mumbai-based Aarti Group of Companies (estb. 1975), a big name in Mumbai’s chemicals trading circles.
“We believe that by leveraging ICT, devising new reasonably priced study materials and providing distance education, we can help students learn better and more conveniently. The company website (www.plancess.com) offers 330 hours of video lectures delivered by top 100 IIT-JEE 2009 rankers who also secured over 90 percent in their Plus Two exam. These lecturers are students who have gone through the process and know exactly what it takes to excel in competitive entrance exams,” says Gupta.
The Plancess study progra-mme is priced at a modest Rs.15,000 for two years with supplementary video lectures priced between Rs.200-300 each. The study package includes a personal IIT graduate mentor who will interact with each student weekly on the internet or by telephone. “We believe we have devised a student-friendly study programme at an affordable price,’’ says Gogri.
Another high point of Plancess is the introduction of Shiksha Planner — a series of free counselling seminars throughout March this year. Shiksha has been a great success ever since it was conducted in nine colleges in Mumbai in 2009. The trio has since staged seminars in several cities inclu-ding Udaipur and Bhubaneswar. “A major problem for IIT candidates is the lack of counseling, so these seminars help to familiarise them with the structure and process of IIT-JEE, and also offer advice on how to write other engineering entrance exams successfully,” explains Salvi.
Good news for IIT aspirants!
Praveer Sinha (Mumbai)
In a country where littering and indifference to civic cleanliness is a national malaise, Jashrit Dubey (14), a class IX student of the Gujarati-medium state board-affiliated Hiramani School, Ahmedabad, has assumed the burden of Mahatma Gandhi’s mission of maintaining clean and sanitary local environments, besides stirring fellow students into action. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step and I decided to step out alone, never mind if others were not so willing,” he says.
Starting from the bottom up, Jashrit’s campaign began in his own neighbour-hood in the Chankheda area of Ahmedabad in 2010. Since then he has introduced clean-up drives in six wards of Ahmedabad, conducted workshops in 20 primary-secondary schools and mobilised a cohort of 5,500 students to spread his message. “I am well aware of the magnitude of the task I have undertaken since littering, spitting etc are regarded as natural and harmless activities. But as our cities become more populated, these activities can pose major health hazards,” says Jashrit, who drew his inspiration from a visit to Gandhiji’s Sabarmati Ashram and read about the Mahatma’s commitment to cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation.
The schoolboy’s evangelism comes from his father Virendra Dubey, a physically challenged instructor in the Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Ahmedabad. Committed to vocational education and training of the physically disabled, Dubey was adjudged best employee in the state (2005), and received a special award from chief minister Narendra Modi. “I have been greatly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and have taken Jashrit and his friends to Sabarmati Ashram on several occasions,’’ says Dubey.
It’s not surprising that this young social activist is also a brilliant student averaging 90 percent in academics year upon year. With a long-term career goal to qualify as a physiotherapist, Jashrit is currently working on developing a website which will provide supple-mentary education to underprivileged children and also counsel them about health and hygiene issues. “Recycling and maintaining clean, green, safe and sanitary local environments is of utmost national importance. Healthy citizens transform into productive workers which is good for national development,’’ says Jashrit.
Evidently this young crusader knows things most grown ups don’t.
R.K. Misra (Gandhinagar)