In a country like India where job seekers almost always outnumber the job opportunities on offer, pursuing MBA from a well known college is considered as a safeguard and an assured passage towards a prosperous corporate career. A number of coaching institutes have also come up across the country, claiming to assist the aspirants in achieving their aims of reaching that dream MBA college. However, despite the mushrooming of these institutes, MBA preparation still remains a highly disorganized and unpredictable field. And to disrupt this disorganized sector, three young professionals have bid goodbye to their cushy corporate jobs and started Cracku. We got in conversation with one of the founders, Maruti Konduri. Here’s what happened –
Before we dived into the details, we wanted to know about the venture from the Horse’s mouth itself. “We started Cracku in August 2014. We have three partners: Maruti, Srikant and Maruti’s wife sayali.. I was working in Hong Kong and came back to India in March 2014. Before coming to India, we discussed about the startup with Srikant (known as Lingo),” tells Maruti.
Maruti terms leaving his well settled job a ‘difficult decision’. He goes on to explain, “It was a big life changing decision as when I came back there was a lot of volatility in the country and I moved back to Hyderabad and there was the Telengana movement, so we were not really sure when we'll start our venture.”
Despite the early indecisiveness, Maruti stuck to his decision and advises the same to anyone looking to open his or her startup in India. He explained India’s startup scene to us by saying, “When we quit our job and came back to India, we didn’t really know anything about the business and our entire family doesn’t have any business background. We weren’t sure whether it was a bad or a good decision, but the moment we got into the plane after selling off all the things in Hong Kong, and when the plane was about to take off, we realized it was a good decision because then there was no looking back and here was a lot more clarity in our life.”
“I would say India is an extremely good place for somebody who wants to do a startup. They should go for it because right now India is growing economically so if you want to start then do it, because customers also have money where they can buy things. Per capita income of India is growing, India is becoming more and more digitalized so it is an excellent time for youngsters to pursue their startup dreams because a few years later you would be very late and a 10 years earlier India was underdeveloped. I would say don’t worry about the future as it is completely unknown. But just focus on what you want to do for the next 1 to 2 years and keep doing that in a productive way and everything else will just add up.”
Apart from the existing economic and business challenges, another factor which adds up to the Indian start-ups includes the approval of the family. Maruti’s case was no different. He talks about his family’s role in his decision, “When we actually started, my wife’s family was completely in support by my family was not, they were very nervous as they didn’t want us to move back to India and quit our jobs and start something completely unknown to us. So I told them that if it didn’t work in 3 years, we will go back and look for something and a find another job. I think that this was the time of startup.
I was 27 and I thought if I don’t do startup now, and if I have more responsibilities then it would be very difficult. At that time I was just married and there were not a lot of responsibilities on my head, so I thought this is the best time and if it doesn't work out then we will quit after a couple of years or so and move back to our jobs. But 5 years later I won't get this kind of a chance again. This is what I told my parents to convince them, but they were still not convinced, so just thought to go ahead and give it a chance. So now they are really happy.”
One of the first things that come to mind upon hearing about Cracku is that it isn’t exactly a very new idea with hundreds of MBA coaching institutes already ruling the market. How then is Cracku different? Maruti has the answer to this, “A few things - there are many platforms for MBA series, but as we know the results speak for themselves. For Example, CAT results were out just a week back, we calculated that the number of students scoring more than 99 percentile in CrackU were 60. So if a student is taking Cracku, he is 5 times more likely to score more than 99 percentile than otherwise. The feedback we get are overwhelmingly positive, because there are a number of reason; like we are ideally priced because we have segregated the entire portion to various small granular section, so if a student takes a test then he will know what are his strengths and what are his weakness. Once he knows that, we also provide high quality video where he can work with and get better. After giving the test again, he can feel that he is improving in his weaknesses. I think this interlinking between the mocks and videos is not available anywhere else.”
The journey of a startup is full of highs and lows. In order to get to know more about CrackU, we urged Maruti to take us closer to the lowest and highest points in CrackU’s journey. He happily revealed, “Lowest point would be when we started up. There were around 3-4 months when we came back and started up the product. Before launching, we did some pre launch marketing and put in quite an effort. On our first day, 3 people bought our product. For the next 8 days, nobody bought our product. So it was very demoralizing. We felt that we took a very big decision to come back to India and after the first day of sale nobody brought it. And at that time it was just 3 partners who were working and we weren’t able to figure out what was going on, because we didn’t know how to convince people to buy our product, especially on the internet. On the 9th day, our happiness returned when someone bought our product on her own as we didn’t do any convincing. Then we made a lot of marketing strategy so that more and more people will buy our product from our website.”
“High points are whenever we get the CAT results and we know that our students have done great and entered big IIMs. We are seeing that we are making a huge impact in their life because I know how much making a seat in IIM caused them and how much it changes their life. I know we are helping a lot of students to do that as in some place there is a lack of high quality education and we are making a small difference in their life. So these things inspire us to do more. We are making a difference and providing education to those where quality education is not available and that is very inspiring for us.”
CrackU also breaks the myth that for a startup to succeed, getting initial funding is a prerequisite. In fact, CrackU is running successfully without any funding. Maruti explains why they decided against going for any funding, “We contacted many VCs and tried to get funding a year back. But we felt that it is not the worth the time and effort. We are a cash back business. We get a lot of cash from students in the form of online money. We never really felt that we need to create funding. We did talk to some investor but we didn’t really get interested in that as many terms and conditions were attached. We felt that it is completely fine and we are having very good money as our growth attraction in very good. As of now we are not looking for any funding.”
From what we have learnt, it took them a mere 4 months to get their product up and running! How did they achieve it with a team of only 3 people? Maruti tells us, “We used to sit up in a locked up room and create questions (all three of us). We used to divide our time and create the code for some time, create questions for some time, provide with facebook marketing for some time and were trying to build our product. At the start we didn’t have any target, we just wanted to create our product and launch it. Now we have targets and if we didn’t reach that number then immediately we sit together and see what needs to be done.”
Once he told us that they haven’t taken any funding, we were intrigued and wanted to know more about their revenue stream. This is what he told us, “We give the mock test for free but our premium content is chargeable i.e the high quality videos but analysis of the person is very close to free. We are very confident about our videos and after your analysis we can help you improve with our videos. If you want to know where you are you can come to our website and take your mock which is very close to free. That is our way in which we are making money.”
Like any humble person, Maruti has as much praise for Brainbuxa as for his own CrackU. He says to us about Brainbuxa, “You are doing very good and keep doing and inspiring millions.”
Let us know your thoughts about this interview in the comment section below. Also, if you think your story is just an inspiring and deserves to be on this page, let us know!