How about learning everything about the profession of your choice in less than an hour and becoming adept at it for just Rs 99? That too, when your instructors are influencers and achievers in their respective fields? For instance, you could learn film-making from Nitesh Tiwari, the director of ‘Dangal’, film production from Siddharth Roy Kapoor of UTV, or novel writing from Amish Tripathi, who wrote the bestseller, ’The Immortals of Meluha’?
‘Grades Don’t Matter’ is an education app founded by Varun Agarwal, a first-generation entrepreneur, film-maker and author of ‘How I Braved Anu Aunty, and co-founder of ‘A Million Dollar Company’. The app seeks to disrupt India’s rigid education system by giving students and professionals a chance to rise above report cards and corporate jobs to choose a profession that interests them, but for which they were not formally trained at a school or college.
Traditionally, the Indian education system is not geared to prepare students for unconventional careers such as entrepreneurship, music, stand-up comedy, photography, content creation, emceeing, food-blogging, etc.
At school or even college, nobody teaches you about personal finance, wealth management and the importance of money, even though most of your adult life is spent striving to earn and manage money. In fact, a lot of theory taught at school and college is simply lost as it is not practically applicable.
Varun Agarwal, CEO of the company, is also a motivational speaker, having delivered speeches at IITs, IIMs, TED talks, Facebook, Google, et cetera. During his interaction with students and professionals, Varun realised that most people struggle to figure out what they really want to do. Students often express anxiety over lack of good grades, and working professionals grapple with their jobs while seeking a suitable alternative career.
A reluctant engineering student himself, Varun could relate to these concerns. This led him to develop a platform where people could access valuable information that would assist them in making better career choices. The assumption that information or learning is easily available online is faulty and can be cumbersome.
For Varun, the challenge was to build a platform that would capture the attention of the knowledge seeker. There are about 2,000 careers in India that don’t need a mark-sheet, just the right skills. To bridge this gap in the system, Varun developed an app featuring video tutorials that encompass end-to-end knowledge about unconventional professions imparted by experts. However, being cognizant of the fact that the average viewer might not have a long attention span, he kept the video format concise, so that all the knowledge sharing happens within 45-50 minutes.
India being a celebrity-driven market, Varun zeroed-in on celebrity speakers/teachers as his USP.Some of the famous people featured in the videos include fashion blogger Santhoshi Shetty, musician Raghu Dixit, Ritesh Agarwal the founder of Oyo rooms, Sameer and Yash who run the Bombay Canteen, director Nitesh Tiwari, novelist Amish Tripathi, producer Siddharth Roy Kapoor and many others.
The app, available on Android and iOS, is free. After the first two introductory modules, each course can be purchased for of Rs 99. Once the first payment is made, videos are available for unlimited viewing. An overview of each course is also available as a ‘Workbook’ – a downloadable PDF file. Students also get a digitally signed certificate from the influencer once they complete a course.
“India is a very grades-based system where, if you don’t get good grades, you are automatically branded as dull: that doesn’t pave the way for a great future. But just because you’re not good at Math or Science does not mean you are not good at 100 other things. Unless we change that model, we’re not going to have an Oscar winner, we’re not going to have an Olympic medalist, we’re not going to produce great talents or make a dent and contribute to the world.” ‘Grades Don’t Matter’ has been developed by a young team of researchers, techies, content creators and designers.
Varun holds that just because you didn’t score good grades doesn’t mean it is the end of the world: it means your life has just started, you just need to discover what is best for you.
And that is where ‘Grades Don’t Matter’ becomes an empowering tool.