Spurred on by the spirit of entrepreneurship from a very early age, Gomathi Shanmugam, Co-Founder at AhaGuru, shares how she poured all her energies into closing the gaps in the education sector with particular focus in the rural areas
Gomathi kicked off her journey of entrepreneurship in the education sector straightway after her graduation. Having identified Math and Science as two subjects many students are apprehensive about she decided to find ways of making them not only easier, but even more interesting— which was, in fact, the springboard for establishing AhaGuru. Says she: “With the establishment of AhaGuru, our goal to enhance the student’s curiosity and their love to learn the subjects deeply was perfectly met.”
She went on to develop a concept called ‘Lab-in-a-box’ in Aid India, which was adopted by over 1500 schools in 2 districts of Tamil Nadu. The concept was soon recognized and appreciated and won the Innovator’s Award for Aid India.
But there was a larger picture that was in her mind’s eye when she started exploring the the education sector. She was of the firm belief that knowledge must be accessible to everybody, but was acutely aware of the fact that, due to unevenly distributed and exorbitant priced education, there was a huge gap in this sector— and even more so in the rural areas. Gomathi may have a volatile idealism, but she also knows how to put her money where her mouth is; started two schools from scratch in the rural area.
Gomathi felt the best tool to expand the reach of high quality education, regardless of the location, was technology. To this end her meeting with Dr. Balaji Sampath was fortuitous, for he was to help her establish AhaGuru (for which he is now co-founder) which opened up an exciting platform for quality education and training for students. AhaGuru offers various Online Classes for IIT JEE, CBSE, and NEET. It has recently launched a special Summer Program "Math in a Month’ for Class 11 students, which will fully cover the Class 11 CBSE Math section. Students currently in class 12, and repeaters, may subscribe to the 3-month crash course. The live class will focus only on problem solving and the entire NEET syllabus will be covered (Class 11 & Class 12).
The lockdown periods during the pandemic have been an exacting time for students, but it’s also been a time when technology has led the way to some semblance of order to the education system. AhaGuru started live online classes for students of Classes 7 and 8 and also introduced several more test-prep courses and brought onboard mentors who could help students transit smoothly to online learning. Even students in the rural areas have benefited from AhaGuru. Gomathi shares how they have launched Math courses on topics like Arithmetic and Fractions, as well as Basic English on their AhaGuru app. They have included a new technology feature into the app to enable it even in areas of low-bandwidth and offline modes. Through the Aid India team, the AhaGuru app courses have reached nearly 60,000 children in remote villages and helped them continue their learning during the lockdown.”
COVID-19 gave AhaGuru the impetus to expand its scope to enroll students from different parts of India which motivated them to hire people pan-India; it is now located in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Srinagar. It also has a good work-from-home culture which allows for greater flexibility to hire many mentors from different parts of the country for students from different States, enrolling in AhaGuru.
Sharing her views on the qualities of a leader today and what motivates her personally Gomathi says: “I believe leaders should trust their intuition.” Commenting on what keeps her motivated, she says it’s the positive feedback of her students!