Kunal is an engineering dropout, an experienced journalist, a self-trained expert at many skills and a successful entrepreneur.
In this exclusive interview with GizoBox, he sheds light on the current issues of startups in India and shows how his highly successful venture, SkillSikho is set to enable entrepreneurs to tackle with these roadblocks.
NEERAJ S.K.: How did you come up with the idea of SkillSikho and what inspired you to start such a venture?
KUNAL: My life experiences were the most important source of inspiration for staring-up SkillSikho.
I dropped out of VJTI College and thereafter I started learning all those skills, on my own, which were necessary for building a successful career path for myself.
I know from my own experience that with enough conviction and commitment, every person can learn new skills without being formally taught about it.
I also realised during this period that the startup environment in India is becoming biased toward those who were not able to express themselves in the English language. This fact did not make any sense to me because I believe that a man is to be judged by his skill set and not by his ability to converse fluently in the English Language.
Thus, the two factors that drove me into starting up SkillSikho were enabling people to learn skills on the internet and doing so through such regional languages of India that they are comfortable with.
NEERAJ S.K.: Do you like to use technological Gadgets? If yes, Which one is your favourite?
KUNAL: To be honest I never have felt the need to have a gadget with me so I do not own many gadgets apart from my Smartphone.
That being said, I would like to point out here that as I am an avid reader, I would love to buy a Kindle from Amazon.
NEERAJ S.K.: What kind of books do you like to read? Would you suggest a few books for our readers?
KUNAL : My reading is usually focussed on those books which add something to your life. It might be knowledge, skill or anything else.
Yes. I would suggest the readers start with these books: –
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- The Four Hour Week by Tim Ferriss
These books will not only give you a basic idea of building a startup, they will also provide you certain lessons which will help you throughout your personal and professional life.
NEERAJ S.K.: Who would you say is your role model or your biggest source of motivation?
KUNAL : My greatest motivation is none other than the Architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr. Bheemrao Ambedkar. Apart from being a brilliant economist a selfless socialist and a patriotic politician, Dr. Ambedkar was also an excellent businessman. At a time when the Press was directly controlled by the British Government and the socio-economic and political environment in India was not at all conducive to the publishing business, Dr. Ambedkar successfully published four newspapers proving his entrepreneurial skills.
Dr. Ambedkar, the multifaceted gentleman and a genius entrepreneur, has always been my greatest source of inspiration.
NEERAJ S.K.: Which one of Hard-work and smart-work would you say is more important for entrepreneurial success?
KUNAL : I have always refrained from classifying work into hard and smart. I believe that these adjectives belong to the process that leads to the work and does not describe the work itself.
For instance, if I start a venture that sells product ‘A’ without any knowledge and skill set of marketing, then no matter how much I work on the venture, it is bound to fail.
In-depth knowledge and updated skills are what will make your work simple or difficult. If it feels simple, it looks like smart work but if it feels difficult, it will always look like hard work.
NEERAJ S.K.: What are your views on the startup’s sector in India?
KUNAL : Indian startups have a huge potential for growth and success because the majority of Indian startup is offering simple solutions for the complex problems of daily life. Further, Indian business tends to have a good network and are always keen on expanding their network.
Although, regardless of such huge potential, the entire startup ecosystem in India seem to be biased toward those who have a good command of spoken English. Venture capitalists, incubators, accelerators, all seem to betow opportunities only on those entrepreneurs who are good at English.
People who are only good at English do not necessarily make good entrepreneurs. Being able to speak in the English language seems to be the most important criterion for selection of startups by financial institutions.
I believe the English language should not even be on the list of criteria for selection. A business is made up of the skillset and knowledge of the entrepreneur and not upon his ability to express himself in a certain specific language.
If this trend goes on, only the elite-class entrepreneurs will be successful while all other startups will end up being the consumers of these elite-class startups. This scenario needs to change as soon as possible.
Therefore I started SkillSikho; a website where you can learn skills in your own preferred language.
NEERAJ S.K.: How would you describe SkillSikho in one line?
KUNAL : SkillSikho is an online learning marketplace to learn and teach anything in the local Indian languages.
An Amazon of skills if you may.
NEERAJ S.K.: SkillSikho along with Mentorprenuers is organising a startup event. Could you enlighten the reader about the same?
KUNAL : As I mentioned earlier, the greatest impediment that the startup community is facing currently is language bias and this needs to be changed as soon as possible.
With this aim, this event titled ‘Startup Maharashtra Yatra’ is going to be conducted by SkillSikho along with Mentorprenuers. Startup Yatra is a one of a kind tour that will be conducted in the language. The tour will proceed through 10 cities which although have tremendous business potential are still not being considered as a startup hub; only due to the lack of fluent English speaking entrepreneurs.
NEERAJ S.K.: Which cities of Maharashtra State do you intend to cover in this event?
Kunal : This tour will be conducted in the cities of Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Nashik, Sangli, Amravati, Jalgaon, Chiplun, Thane and shall witness the participation of renowned Startup Founders, Investors, Mentors, Incubators & Accelerators and Industry experts. These experts shall select individuals from all of these cities based solely on their skills and talents and not on their English fluency.
NEERAJ S.K.: If not English, which language shall be used for communication and interactions?
KUNAL : The entire event shall be conducted explicitly in Marathi.Therefore, those entrepreneurs who usually have to shy away from English speaking competition will also get a fair chance in the startup arena.
NEERAJ S.K.: What are the special aspects of the event that participants should look forward to?
KUNAL : The ‘Startup Maharashtra Yatra’ shall give the participants an opportunity to pitch their ideas for an investment of ₹50,00,000/- (Fifty Lakh Rupees). Apart from it, all participants will be able to take part in open mentoring and will also have the opportunity to be individually mentored.
This tour would be the first of its kind that will provide all of the above-mentioned support in their regional language.
Therefore, I urge all the budding and aspiring entrepreneurs to make use of this opportunity to build their own Startup.
The details for the ‘Startup Maharashtra Yatra can be found at this link –