Another year just flew past for all of us at Gyan Lab. It was only yesterday that we were contemplating on how to plan Gyan Lab’s expansion, till 2012 end all our work was confined to Manipal – Mangalore area in Karnataka and we were focused on having our presence in more locations. We knew what to do but we had no clue how!
This became our stepping stone in 2013. We made our gradual move from Manipal by taking up a place in January 2013 in Yelahanka New Town in far northern Bangalore. In hindsight, it was a stupid decision and cost us four months of extra rent but it atleast made us firm about the move to Bangalore. Come May, we found our perfect little office – neatly tucked in the quiet HSR Layout with nice gardens and wide free roads. Today, our office in Manipal is 20 days away from being permanently being closed and all core operations including R&D are taking place in the 2000 sq. ft. HSR Office. We had a bit of a run of bad luck when our towering Gyan Lab Board fell due to torrential winds. All in all, we were able to do what we had planned to – not in the smoothest manner but with some very serious learning.
While office was an easy task, we had to grow in other cities. We began the year by bagging a contract to work with Pearson Schools. It was a very exciting and challenging task for a company based in Manipal and having just three full-time people. We started planning our expansion. I travelled to various locations including Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad to start knowing the schools we would be working with. It was extremely challenging at times especially keeping in mind that our funds were always short in supply. Come April, we also started working on a strategy to start operations further north of Pune with Kota being our first such centre of operations. Kota was a very wise choice for us given its importance as an education hub and dire need to change education from the monotonous coaching to a more holistic type. It was also much further away from us than we would have been comfortable, but we took the risk. And, all our efforts paid off. We started our operations in Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad along with Pearson Schools with a bang. We made our presence deeper and stronger in Manipal and Mangalore. We also took up a presence in a school in rural areas of Kundapura and started our Kota centre with partnerships with St. Joseph Group of Schools and Resonance PCCP.
A third challenge for us at the beginning of the year was logistics. Till 2012, we were having our manufacturing done in India only. Now, we had a need to ramp us the overall quality of the product in order to stand firm ground against the competition. A lot of deep research and dialogues with over 50 manufacturers across countries such as China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and USA led us to some of the best manufacturers and vendors in this space. In a span of a couple of months, we had a world class product at our disposal which needed to be tested and adjusted to be put up into use in context of Indian Education. We carried off this work beautifully with over 300 completely pictorial manuals prepared in a time span of the next three months which were exactly suited for kids in India. We mapped the curriculum to not only CCE but few other curriculums and curriculum standards from across the globe making the program truly world class. And, then we launched Kidovators Challenge across the Indian sub-continent with an intention to reward innovation among school kids. All this with a bare minimum team was something of a wonder and I am glad all of you had great roles to play in the same.
This brings me to the team. It was very challenging for us to find the right team. Yet, we never had to go out of way to find the people we needed, they always came to us which makes this organization a very special and well knit unit. Srishti and Umanath joined our team at the beginning of the year in administrative and academic capacities at the beginning of the year. I kept juggling between offices in Manipal and Bangalore while everyone else did what they could do best with Sonali completely managing the development work at the Manipal office. Later in the year, Ann joined us in Hyderabad, Ruchira joined us in Pune, and Vinuth joined in Bangalore office. We were also graced with Kriti's and Abhash's presence for Kidovators. We are a complete team and it makes me proud.
Those were our mega challenges in 2013. As we enter 2014, newer challenges are going to come our way. These will make the challenges of 2013 look like tiny dots, but we have to be ready to face them. I want all of us to grow – at a personal and professional level. Each one of us must be a better person today than we were yesterday. That is when the real growth is going to unfold.
Can we make better use of ourselves? Can we beat all odds? Can we be more focussed? We can be all of it given the right intent is there.
I would like to close this letter with a lesson I have adopted in my life and work, and would like you to do the same as well. This is a story by Prof. Sunil Handa of IIM Ahmedabad (if you do not who this person is, look up the internet). I am re-wording it to shorten it. At work, if you are asked to do something say calling up a prospective client. You call him but he does not receive the call. You come back to me and say it did not work out as he did not receive the call. Imagine another situation where your mother is seriously ill (I pray it never happens) and needs some medicine urgently and it is 11:30 PM. You go to a medical store and find it closed. What do you do? Do you come back saying the medicine cannot be availed at this hour? Or, do you go to another medical store? Then another? You find it all closed but do you stop there? You find the house of one of the med store guys and go and wake him up. Won’t you do this? Won’t you go to the world’s end if you had to for this? Then, why not for your work? Your work is your identity, it is who you are and what you do. If you willing to work as if your life depended on it, you will be very successful at Gyan Lab because you will be valued beyond any measure. If not, you will only be a fading memory to us. And, it is my job to ensure that never happens. And you know what is yours.
Let us make the year ahead full of positive memories, good health and an impactful start-up called Gyan Lab. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014!!!