Cover Image For Episode 43 - Prateek of LearnApp: From Trading to Scaling An EdTech Platform
Prateek of LearnApp: From Trading to Scaling An EdTech Platform

From Trading To Scaling An EdTech Platform To Millions Of Users – Prateek Singh’s Journey To Building LearnApp

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on almost every sector. From the automobile sector to the entertainment industry, COVID-19 lockdowns turned out to be huge speed breakers. Yet, one industry that actually saw a meteoric rise during this pandemic was the EdTech Industry. One such story is of Prateek of LearnApp: From Trading to Scaling An EdTech Platform to millions of Users.

EdTech Platforms Are Making Learning More Accessible
EdTech Platforms Are Making Learning More Accessible

As schools, colleges and offices in majority of the countries have been shut down, therefore large number of students and employees are spending time learning news courses and skills online. Thus, to say that the various online platforms that provide these courses are scaling is an understatement! Moreover, as the acceptance of online degrees and certifications becomes more prominent, the popularity of online degrees continues to increase.

The Rise Of The EdTech Industry

Through eLearning, one may study a wide range of course types and learn just about any skill necessary to further their career. The number of different courses and subjects ranges significantly with many options for every area of interest.

Data shows just how well the EdTech space has benefitted from COVID-19. For example, Global e-learning platform Coursera, offered over 4,000 courses free for college students to attract over 700,000 users in the past six months. That’s over 5 years of scale achieved in a few months!

Image showing global Spending On Digital Platforms Increased
Spending More On Digital Platforms

Spending is up big time on Digital Platforms Post Covid

Post COVID situation for the EdTech Industry still looks promising. The reason being that people now know that they can access these knowledge pools just with a click! One such EdTech startup that is not just scaling to new heights everyday but also is providing quality and practicality with it’s courses is LearnApp.

Prateek of LearnApp: From Trading to Scaling An EdTech Platform

Born in Abu Dhabi, then moving to Singapore, then to Malaysia and then back to India, Prateek Singh spent most of his childhood travelling. And all this travel was because of Prateek’s mum who was an educator by profession and thus moved as and when required. She also started the Global Indian International School in Singapore. Hence a global citizen in true sense she is!

Prateek of LearnApp: From Trading to Scaling An EdTech Platform
Prateek of LearnApp: From Trading to Scaling An EdTech Platform

Being a global citizen, Prateek credits his mum and dad equally but it was his dad that got him into trading. However, before Prateek started LearnApp, there was Prateek’s blog called Market Scientists. Here he taught people how to trade. Post Market Scientists came an investing and stock trading education platform called Trade Academy.

From here, Prateek talks about the many lessons that he learned from these ventures which eventually led him to start LearnApp. Prateek is a true example that shows with a whole lot of experience, comes a whole lot of wisdom. You don’t want to miss out on this one!

LearnApp Logo
LearnApp Logo

Listen to Prateek of LearnApp talk about trading to now scaling an EdTech Platform to millions of users and much more on this episode of Maharajas of Scale.

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Here Are Some Excerpts From The Episode:

Prateek’s Advice For Trading

Yeah, the thing about trading is that you should not be trading every day, all the time. And what you have to do is find a system and you trade that system. Maybe in that system, you get two to three trades a week. You take that for a really long period of time, you will make money, you will not make money on a monthly basis and this taught me patience.

Prateek Singh 21:23

Listen to Another Maharaja of Scale, Ashish Singhal Talk About Making Crypto Buying Super Simple

Scale Achieved by LearnApp So Far

We got 960,000 visitors on LearnApp, which is almost almost a million. Out of those who landed 1.5 lakh people registered, meaning they just gave their email addresses. Now this is where most startups stop and say 1.5 lakh registered users. The truth is, how many of them are paying and actually think your core, your services as valuable, right?

Prateek Singh 25:43

Problem Solving Is Key while Scaling
Problem Solving Is Key while Scaling

Shift In The Mindset Of The New Generation!

The first thing is that everyone, from your receptionist, to your marketing, to your content, to even your freelancers have to have one Northstar of why you’re doing what you’re doing. And where you’re going.

That means, every one can’t have different answers, right? For example, you can’t have the brokerage firm saying open accounts. And then we say no, we want more people are watching more videos over the week, right?

Prateek Singh 35:43

Every Founders Dilemma

We spend time in stealth mode, building something imagining what will happen. When Tiger Global comes you know, how we will shake hands with them etc. And how you read the funding news in Economic Times and just be like, it’s okay, I expected this, I worked very hard.

Prateek Singh 52:24

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Show Notes

Follow Prateek Singh On LinkedIn (@PrateekSingh)

Check Out LearnApp’s Website learnapp.co

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Word Cloud For This Episode
Word Cloud For This Episode

Follow Maharajas of Scale On Twitter (@maharajaofscale)

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​Episode Transcript

(Automated Transcript)

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, krishna, users, called, trading, teach, read, money, scale, invest, platform, build, online, company, trade, courses, india, business, startup, rupees

SPEAKERS

Krishna Jonnakadla, Prateek Singh, Tania Jadhav

Krishna Jonnakadla  00:01

This is Maharajas of Scale, a podcast where we go behind the scenes and talk to founders who are demolishing the myths around building and scaling a big business in India. These are the stories that have shattered the assumptions around Indian consumers and of changing the game completely. I am Krishna Jonnakadla, serial entrepreneur, co founder of FLIT- the fashion located in town and startup mentor bringing you the stories. Okay on Sankranthi day in Bangalore 2021. You know, all the people that are manufacturing vaccines are wondering should we even manufacturer vaccine because newspaper headlines are actually screaming saying efficacy of the vaccine testing might actually be defeated because not many people are actually contracting COVID. I'm so super thrilled to see that maybe herd immunity is actually kicking in. And it's a great day to speak to Prateek of LearnApp. I love what Prateek is doing with LearnApp. I've always held this notion. And for those of those listeners that have heard our earlier episode, I've said what is the fruit on the tree principle if you want to be a doctor actually goes to speak to someone who's actually become a doctor. So Prateek has actually scaled that principle and built an app. Let's hear from him. Prateek awesome to have you on the show today. So tell us a little bit about yourself what you're doing right now and where you are right now.

Prateek Singh  01:18

Hey, dude, Krishna, thank you for inviting me to this really nice to be here. I love the name of your show, Maharajas of Scale, I hope can live up to that expectation. So we started about two years ago, like like Krishna said, it's called LearnApp. Basically, it's a platform that does three things, you get a leader to come and teach. So a practitioner who's actually either built the industry from scratch, or actually done amazing stuff to get the industry somewhere actually teaches. So it's based on insight. It's based on actionable stuff that you can do versus theory. Second, the problem with online is, is that it's so damn distracting, right? You see something and you get a WhatsApp here. So how could you solve for that? I love quality. And I think a lot of Indian startups or older Indian companies don't focus on quality. So our video courses are built beautifully. I think we have great cameras, sound design storytelling, and you spend a lot of time on that. So we have the highest completion rates because of that. So movie, like video quality. And the third thing is that costs super low. So people pay 500 rupees a month to access 200 courses, all around trading, investing in business, and you have these amazing people teaching. So, you know, let's change education with this, I guess.

Krishna Jonnakadla  02:30

Oh, my God, dude, what? What are you telling me you're this something like this is really possible. I mean, all the stuff I read out there actually gives me the impression that something like LearnApp couldn't exist or shouldn't exist, or shouldn't be doing stuff like that. You're actually telling me this is actually possible?

Prateek Singh  02:46

Yeah. I mean, I really, to be honest, we never started off with this vision, right? I think all entrepreneurs start by saying, Hey, I had this Northstar, and I walked towards it and scale this mountain. The truth is, we walked towards the mountain garden mud came out eight seaweed, you know, went through the jungle. And then one day looked at me like, oh, we're on top of a tiny Hill. And Krishna is asking, how did you get on this hill. And I'm here to tell you how we got on the hill.

Krishna Jonnakadla  03:12

Interesting, interesting. I think this is going to be one hell of a session. And I think both of us are going to have fun. The previous one was, with a absolutely fantastic entrepreneur, she did a terrific job, Rashi of Heads Up For Tails. I'm Gosh, this only seems to be getting better. So we'll jump into LearnApp in a second. And I want you to talk about the scale that you have achieved, the numbers that you are pushing right now. But before we do that, let's get into your own background a little bit. How did you end up being an entrepreneur? What was the spark and the source for LearnApp?

Prateek Singh  03:47

Right, so I guess I'll quickly go through my background. So everyone has a little context. So I was born and brought up I was born in Abu Dhabi, then we move to Africa, then he moved to Singapore, and then Malaysia, and then came to India. And at that point, I was supposed to get into grade 10. Krishna, you want to say something?

Krishna Jonnakadla  04:07

No, no, go ahead.

Prateek Singh  04:08

 I was supposed to get into grade 10. And, but I got two years push back, obviously, because of all the moving. And I came to India and mom, we were in Delhi. And no one gave me admission into class 8, kyunki mujhe Hindi nahi aati thi. I couldn't speak in English, ah Hindi. I could'nt write in Hindi and they said I'll spoil the 10th exam boards. So that said, you know, beta, I'm opening a brokerage account with you with the ICIC director, it was back then. Three in one account, and I opened the account. I was 17. And I started to trade and I still trade today. So that's that's a that's a brief history.

Krishna Jonnakadla  04:45

So born and and born in Abu Dhabi, and eventually went to Africa, Africa as a continent, dude, in case you're mistaken for a country.

Prateek Singh  04:55

So it's Tanzania, a place called Daraa Salaam.

Krishna Jonnakadla  04:59

Yeah.

Prateek Singh  04:59

If you say Africa Then Daraa Salaam.

Krishna Jonnakadla  05:03

Daraa Salaam is a terrific city with a great airport and everything if I'm not mistaken.

Prateek Singh  05:07

Absolutely. And it's not. It's not a desert guys, tropical, you get amazing fruit. It's an amazing country. So yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  05:14

Wasn't it called Zanzibar before?

Prateek Singh  05:16

No. So yeah, that's right. So there's a place Zanzibar near it. And that reminds me of my school lunch. I used to have Zanzibar mix you guys to should search it. There's no African food in the world. Maybe that's an idea for a startup.

Krishna Jonnakadla  05:28

Come on. My my neighbors in Texas when we used to live there. They were from Ethiopia. And then you know, the funny thing is, they would come out for lunch or dinner a few times, and they would tell us Indian food Ethiopian food is so close to Indian food. And it's got a lot of and Ethiopia as well. If I'm if my memory of coffee history serves me right, Ethiopia, I think is where coffee was born. One of the oldest places where coffee was actually a social drink. And even today, I think some of the world's best coffee comes from Ethiopia. And they were a very advanced civilization at one point in time, so they used to tell me a Ethiopian food is very, very close very close to Indian food. So Africa, I think there are a few cuisines I suppose. I have to claim ignorance ignorance here. I don't know a lot about that continent. But there are a few countries. So how was life there? It must have been pretty exciting.

Prateek Singh  06:26

 No, it was great, right? I mean, as a kid you don't know the difference between all of this right? So I mean, I was in school a van used to pick us up used to go to school used to tell us to come back just like everything else. And I feel when you're abroad the the feeling of Indian ness just comes out right there like maybe you have to be more Indian than people in India. pajama you know. And people in India are wearing jeans but people abroad or like Diwali ka pooja karrae hai. Wherever the sale right, and there is so many Gujratis in in Daraa Salam. Right. So I think that was that was a great place made great friends. Africans are fantastic people. And they're always happy. They're always laughing. Just like me, I'm always laughing.

Krishna Jonnakadla  07:12

Interesting. There is quite a large Gujarati contingent all over Africa, right. South Africa is the most well known one. But otherwise, all the trouble that they had to go through because of Idi Amin in Yemen. Those are all well chronicled. The funny thing is I have a friend his wife is actually born and raised in Madagascar. She's from the from that island, and Timbuktu which is the place she's from is quite close to Timbuktu. It's it sounds funny, and I would you know, as a child, you know, you'd grow up people reffering Timbuktu in all kinds of phrases. And lo and behold, one day, I actually have a friend whose wife is actually from a place closer to Timbuktu. Right. And they own an estate close there, apparently pretty well, the family and app from Africa to Singapore, right?

Prateek Singh  08:07

That's right.

Krishna Jonnakadla  08:07

What what's with all the traveling?

Prateek Singh  08:10

So my mother, she was a principal, she was a principal, and she used to basically move when she used to get an offer to start another school. I would say that she'd probably be like a school startup specialist now that I think about it. Because Africa, she started a school and then Singapore, she started GIIS Global Indian International School, if you've heard of that, the first version of that started in Singapore, which is the first Indian School she created. Of course, we weren't investors, anything more mom was the principal. And there were other people who created who did the financial backing and stuff. So I mean, what do you think would happen? Krishna? Like, we're an African mom's like, Hey, we have this opportunity in Singapore. I'm like, Great. Let's go. So we moved to Singapore.

Krishna Jonnakadla  08:57

my God. She was a global citizen much before anyone else. And these aren't essentially roles that you would think of some time ago, somewhere in the 80s, when there were a lot of white collar people in India who had the education, but the Indian economy never offered. I've heard of dentists and architects go to the Middle East, or maybe places like Libya, Lebanon. But as an educator, it is the first time I'm hearing She must be quite an adventurous lady.  Oh,

Prateek Singh  09:24

Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I think I get grit, determination, perseverance, all these things from her. Like she suffers from migraine, for example, where she would vomit, it's that bad. And she would still get up and go to the office every single day. And I would say how do you do that? And she would say, you got to do what you got to do. And and I hope she's watching this someday and she's proud but you know, that's what I learned from her.

Krishna Jonnakadla  09:46

Talk about work ethic. I mean, and and the weird thing is she's a principal right? So at least back then I'm sure she was one of the older the let's let's discipline makes everyone great. Although that is a that is timeless advice. Kind of lady. So if you don't show up, you can't expect others to actually have the same discipline. Right. So what about Dad?

Prateek Singh  10:05

So So dad's in the army, and he retired a colonel. And so when we came, came to India, that's when I met him. My mom remarried. So I met that later in life I saw, but I mean, it's the reason I'm here today is because of that. Because I mean, just two quick points, right that, like he actually committed his entire pension, and gave it to me and said, You will trade with this, despite me not knowing how to trade. And he said, If I trust in You, there's no reason for you to not trust yourself. He's like, if you can have confidence, your confidence will compound over the next 10 years. I'll wait. You'll figure it out. I mean, who does that? So like the night dad said, I should pick up trading and pushed me to it. It wasn't because I was this great. Steve Jobs, distinct visionary trading will be the future. I was just a curious kid, man. And just my parents were superstars.

Krishna Jonnakadla  10:58

Interesting, you know that that is a place where the two of us have something in common. My dad was a basic government employee. He was my dad was a happy go lucky chap, right. He was an engineer. And he was working for the government. And I would I never saw streak of ambition in my dad. So and I don't, I don't mean that disrespectfully or anything, but he was just that. And I still remember after becoming a chartered accountant qualifying, I saw this company, for a person that had 10 years less experienced than my father, they would offer they were offering they were paying 10 times the salary that my dad was making at that point in time. So I happened to know the CFO, and I told my dad, you know what, I know the CFO of this company, I know you will do awesome job, an awesome job here. Why don't you go join there? He said, No, no, no, I'm happy with what I'm doing where I'm doing. And then I was I think, 21 back then for the world of me, I would ask, How in the hell can a person not be ambitious? And I would ask my Dad, I'm showing you a path to 10 x salary next month. He said, No, no, no, someday we'll understand. And it's been 22 years or 21 years, hence, I still haven't understood it. But that was my dad, he was happy go lucky. He said, I'm gardea Well, that was not the defining aspect of his life. I am in a stable job. I allow the people that I'm working around, I'm, I'm cool. Okay, you're ambitious, go do whatever you want. I'm not gonna stop you. And, but the result of him working in a government job meant that we literally, you know, and he was not a, you know, let's earn under the table kind of a guy. He never knew that kind of stuff. As a result of which we never had excess money at home, there's no discretion, forget discretion. Even the ones that are in discretionary, you don't have money to spend for it.

Prateek Singh  12:46

But it's such a blessing, right? I mean, when you know what you don't have, then you know what you want, right? I mean, that's such a blessing now that you look back.

Krishna Jonnakadla  12:53

So my mom out of the money that he used to give her for household expenses, she would save 200 rupees, 300 rupees, and then she started subscribing to these primary IPOs. Okay, so she would, she would say, I don't want a lot, maybe 50 shares. That's all I want. So today, she holds shares in devious Motor Company, and her original investment is 500 rupees today that is worth 5.5 lakhs.

Prateek Singh  13:23

Do you know how many IPS she invested in?

Krishna Jonnakadla  13:26

I think somewhere around 12. That's it after that she didn't have money.

Prateek Singh  13:30

So dear listeners, here's our first lesson for our for our podcast, right? whenever it comes to money, or anything you're trying to do, I think out of 10 2030 trades or investments that you make, only one or two are going to make 99% of the wealth. The same is true for companies as well. So if you are running 2030 experiments within your startup trying to figure out how to get product market fit, how to get conversion, how to get whatever your objective is, it's only iteration, which is going to solve that. And that's exactly what Krishna his mother did. She spread her money to 12 or possibly more, I'm guessing 15-20 IPOs. And one of them turned out to be devious and you know, that was the home run.

Krishna Jonnakadla  14:13

Actually more than one more than one. So there is Maruti there is TCS, so, she was very calibrated in what she invested in.

Prateek Singh  14:23

smarten. Yeah,

Krishna Jonnakadla  14:24

So, so So the reason I'm giving you that background is she was the one who said, Hey, there is something called as well as making for people like us, because he for a government employee real estate, which is a source of wealth is not really an option. How will you buy these large pieces of land, he said, this is the way so the result of that was when I was around 16 i'd saved up about four or 5000. So all the money that your relatives come home and then give you I never used to spend it. So I put together for 5000 Funny thing is when I was in 12th grade, there was a point when my mom made a 2000 rupees and she borrowed 2000 rupees from me. So I took that 5000 and then I started trading.

Prateek Singh  15:07

Really I didn't know this.

Krishna Jonnakadla  15:09

So back then there was a there was something called as the OTC over the counter Exchange of India. Yeah. So the OTC desk for Bangalore was closer to my home, it was on the way on the way to work, and on the way to college, and then after I joined work, it was on the way to work. There was a incredible guy called Rampersad. Very sweet chap. I was six out of 1617 or maybe around 17, I would sit down and this chap would explain the nuances of trading. Okay, settlement, Kamata, labia hair, you know, margin, this is what it is. And I told him compressors, I have 5000. You take this 5009 How should I How should I actually do this? He said, Don't set it. Just read. Okay, t plus four, right? You have 480 plus for you, whatever you buy on a Monday, you have to settle on a Friday. So he said, You don't have to you don't have to pay. So he said your mark, you have 5000 so you do a margin. You do margin based rates, I'll support you. Okay. And then and then I would go sit down at that OTC desk, I would bunk a couple of classes and then go sit at OTC desk, I would see people who would come sit in front of terminals and say okay, buy it say 100 or sell it Why not? 200 or balkar Industries 300 and I would see all of that, and I would see people who are rich as well. Cool coffee plantation. That man would say okay, buy five lakhs of x and six lakhs of white and even while having lunch that fellow was supposedly very rich. He would come in a Maruti 800 and he would have lunch in front of the terminal. I said what what ready life is this? I'd like that. So ramp was the OTC over the counter exchange owner was a lady called Sunita, Sunita and rompers are two sweet people. So that's when I started trading. But I soon realized that after about two or three years, I think I'd made about two lakh rupees back then a lot of money for what for a kid. And it took that two lakhs 1999 I'm sitting in front of a trading desk, and all this heady days of the.com era, rolta there is an Indian company called volta. And everybody was Gaga about this company, I had not bitten the.com bug, it hadn't begun yet. So I'm like, okay, I sat in front of the terminal. And all these numbers started rolta It was 129, the previous date was 119, the following them sitting in front of the terminal 129. And then in my in front of me, it went up to 139 133 135 139. And he said, this is going to go to 400 to 200 to 250 put all your two legs in right now. And before I could think it became 169 I committed the money. And two days later, it went up to 199. And the cynic started falling. Did it stop falling Krishna is the question. You know where it came down to it came down to 46 rupees, wonderful. I was underwater. And I said nothing doing I think the company's solid looks like they are This was you had paid upfront, or this was what you might have to take delivery. By the time the settlement cycle happened it it had the stock had cratered, right. So I had to take delivery and then I took delivery and then I held on to it. So eventually, I held on to it for two and a half years. So my once 169 rupee cost share became 475. And I made three times the money the beauty of it was at that time capital gains didn't exist. I took all that money, and I paid for my wedding from that.

Prateek Singh  18:50

Oh, wow, that's so here.

Krishna Jonnakadla  18:52

Hey, starting to look like it's my interview and not yours.

Prateek Singh  18:55

No happy happy to hear.

Krishna Jonnakadla  18:57

So so that's my sort of the common it's a long common point. But you got into trading at the same time I got into almost the same age but interesting times. But what why did your dad say get into trading? What was the background for it?

Prateek Singh  19:14

So ever since I can remember always this may sound very bad to say but it's the truth right? Ever since I can remember as a child I always wanted to own a business actually multiple businesses I would have a notebook where I'd write down what kind of businesses get into when I was in class six Can you just imagine that right? I imagine reading I remember reading this Tata launches an airline for private jets and I started to calculate what is the breakeven for for for for Tata for people to actually leads that that that airline and make it is fractional ownership like Netjets and I started calculating how much the and I was bad at math but I was good at like percentage, right? Like Okay, the cost when do I recover? Just always that interested me that I wanted to grow through that. And that said, Look, we're not rich, we can't like start a business. But what you can do is you can buy 100 rupee share. So the closest I can get my son to business and figuring out how all this works to the best of my capacity is, is just starting to trade or invest in the stock market. And he said, You do everything, the only thing I, the only thing I request from you, is every day after the markets, at least for four or five hours, you should be studying about markets. So that's what I read hundreds and hundreds of books tend to rapidshare. And if people know what that means, and I would download PDFs and read them, and that's how I learned, I knew and the thing about trading is you have to learn economics, you have to learn technical analysis, you have to learn emotions, you have to learn herd mentality have to learn journaling, and how percentage works and money management and risk management and all these different things come together. And I had no clue, right. And in school, they were teaching environmental sciences. I'm like, I like this better. And I loved reading that. And that's how I got into, That's why that's what that did. So now I do that and run LearnApp. So great.

Krishna Jonnakadla  21:16

Oh, awesome. And then the trading. So that's sort of like a main thing that you did for a while?

Prateek Singh  21:23

Yeah, the thing about trading is that you should not be trading every day, all the time. And what you have to do is find a system and you trade that system. Maybe in that system, you get two to three trades a week, you take that for a really long period of time, you will make money, you will not make money on a monthly basis. So that taught me patience. And so you need to do something else with your time. So once you found a system, I love to take three trades a week, what do I do with, you know, 10 hours a day multiplied by seven days a week? Right? What do I do with that? So, you know, start a company. So the first company I tried to start was Nights Cafe with my friends, where we said, okay, we will try to start a company. And we did everything, dude, except the actual business plan and the actual food. We did the logo, we did the menu, we did all of that. We did the signage outside the interior lighting, but had no clue how much to price and what we'll be selling. So I end up bank bunch of bank said, we will fund this for you just give us these five things. We spent seven, eight months on it. And after everything was done, everything was lined up. We went to the bank and the bank said get out we obviously not going to give you money. I to this day. I don't know why they said yes. And then said no last minute, but no one gives you money. And then there were three other companies for other companies after that Krishna, all around online education. So because I was successful, sort of successful in trading, I thought I'd like to share. And I partnered with a bunch of other people because I could get capital the money. And either we didn't align with the owners, or he didn't believe in the work I was doing or something some misalignment happened. Or I wasn't doing very well. Like in the case of trade Academy, which was the fourth version. I think the people who were who had funded it were, you know, Ravi, Raghu Shalini of Upstox. So they run up stocks right now, if you've heard of that.

Krishna Jonnakadla  23:18

Yes.

Prateek Singh  23:19

 So so they they funded it, they create, they give me full rein, but I think I was not as as good as I could have been to actually grow that business. And that didn't work out for that reason. And the fifth one is is LearnApp Krishna.

Krishna Jonnakadla  23:32

I love your humility. I mean, you're, you're being so candid, that they invested in the business, maybe, you know, you were not able to scale it. That that kind of candor is quite rare. That humility, you know, Two, Three cheers for that man. So I shouldn't get a fifth chance. But what do you decided to get up again? Right. So that's why you have a chance.

Prateek Singh  23:56

I mean, what else do you do? Right? I mean, the truth is, people are like, you know, you see those videos on LinkedIn nowadays, right? that this person is running, and then he falls down and then he gets up. And, of course, you'll get up right? I mean, do you just want to lie there? Of course, you will get up like, what else would you do? And I think the excitement of starting something new with what you've learned before. And and it I mean, a good example is or even go It was Ashish Kashyap, these people will scale their businesses in very short periods of time. And people will say these people scaled it to a billion dollars in three years. But the truth is, they have 20 years of experience behind them. That's right, right. So if you don't have scales, it'll be like, Oh, we reached XYZ in three years, four years, but I mean, dude, we've been trying this for a while, right. I think that's that's pretty exciting.

Krishna Jonnakadla  24:45

So what sort of scale numbers have you hit with LearnApp right now?

Prateek Singh  24:48

So i will tell you the impressive numbers, then I'll tell you the truth behind them. Okay.

Krishna Jonnakadla  24:53

So you mean many vanity metrics and not non vanity metrics?

Prateek Singh  24:57

Exactly. So I'll tell you the vanity metrics that I'll tell you the Non duality that Rick Santelli, that stuff that sounds good. So because we are stupid cheap, I like to say that. I use the word cheap very carefully, but it's very affordable, right? And people are like so the courses right now cost 30,000 to three lakhs in the market, and we're saying 500 rupees quality 10 x better content and x better and 10 X the so they had 200 courses for 500 rupees a month. So that's like it's crazy. dum dum, this thing to buy to subscribe. So we partnered with the right people of where traders investors already exists like brokers and banks and websites and FinTech companies. And they happily did it because they could offer some value to their users. We got 960,000 visitors on LearnApp, right? So that's almost a million, who landed 1.5 lakh people registered, meaning they just gave their email addresses. Now this is where most startups stop and say 1.5 lakh registered users. The truth is, how many of them are paying and actually think your core your your services valuable, right? Now, since we don't have investors to like impress, are we trying to raise money, we're not doing that. The way we will raise money, like users will buy a product and we'll scale. So now I'll tell you the non vanity metrics the truth. So out of these 1.5 lakh people, about 15,000 people have are paying subscribers and they pay on average about 6000 rupees. And that's that's basically the business right? Now, how do we grow from that? So you have multiple channels, and and Krishna, no ads, we don't do ads.

Krishna Jonnakadla  26:42

Outstanding. If you I don't think any you if you did ads, to be honest. Right now a lot of entrepreneurs think Paise bhi lengae AD bhi lagyengae, right? So in my, in my opinion, that's actually, in some sense, a violation of the space that you actually guaranteed to the buyer. It might be a short, a great, awesome short term move, where you're saying, Okay, let's let's take this person's attention, and then do all kinds of things with it. But if you if your whole focus is what is the impact that I'm planning to deliver it is their ability to learn something without distraction, right? So then the lack of ads actually adds to it. Right. So before we hit the record button, you remember the distractions that you were talking about, even when you don't have distractions from the platform, there are enough distractions out there. So for a learning platform, that that's amazing. And in fact, I commend you for sharing your numbers. So openly, it's a breath of fresh air. I mean, I don't see it. It's fantastic. I don't want to put down the you know, founders that don't, I'm sure they have their own reasons and then pressures, but I still wish the Indian ecosystem gravitated towards actually better transparency, because it helps it helps one and all right, so what what happens is this person pulls back some numbers, which actually means all the people that have participated in that company are in fact a party to that pullback as well. Now, so if there are 10, investors, advisors, and this, this particular founder is saying, okay, it's XYZ, when in reality, it is actually one 10th of XYZ, all the other 10 people who are actually silent or in effect are actually supporting that now start radiating doubt in that out into the ecosystem, which is why we have what we have. Right? So to give an old age old example from Tenalirama Krishna, who's a court jester in the kingdom of in the court of King King Krishnadevaraya in Vijaynagar Empire. So they have the king and Krishnadevaraya and Tenalirama Krishna have a bet. You know, the king tells Tenalirama, Krishna, my subjects are all very, very honest people because there's such law and order in His Kingdom, right? So Tenaliama Krishna tells him, it is only under certain circumstances, circumstances. So the kings, the king tells him, okay, let's, let's come up with challenge me, you know, and prove me wrong. So there is this experiment, where he tells everybody, you have to, you know, pour a glass of milk into a large container. And because you're pouring it, everybody's pouring it, we're not going to come and check who poured. It so happens at the end of that experiment, only about 10% of the people I don't remember the exact number 10% of people have actually poured milk, the remaining 90% of actually pour water. As a result, when the king looks at it, he just looks like water. There's hardly any milk in that container. Right? So many times we underestimate the impact of the single steps that we take, when that actually becomes pervasive because so what you did right have is very, very powerful. But let's go to the beginning. How was it? So you were Trade Desk was that the previous one?

Prateek Singh  29:59

 Trade Academy it was called.

Krishna Jonnakadla  30:00

Trade Academy. What was Trade Academy about? Was it similar to LearnApp? Or was it different?

Prateek Singh  30:06

Yeah. Right. So. So actually, one step before Trade Academy was something called Market Scientist. And basically what market scientist was was a blog where I would teach people how to trade. And it was this interesting story. I started writing these blogs on how to trade this is 2013. And I, and I was speaking to Chile from upstox. And I said, you should partner us and he's like, he's like, dude, you guys have just started, you've written like 10 articles, like we were growing broker. Why would we partner? Yeah. And he and he's totally right. That the funny thing is shini, like, spoke to me for one hour, and he I'm sure he was super busy. I don't know why he gave me that time. I did not deserve it. And I said, and I kept badgering him. What do I need to do that you would separate the gonna partner up? He kept saying that, and he's like, dude, I don't know maybe just make videos. No one does that in India. I said, Okay, fine. And I and that's the end of the conversation, went again with dad bought a camera. And he said, You need to do lights. I said, Where do we get lights and we had this dude light, we took the tube light, put it on a Fatah that's, that's a piece of wood, tied it with wire, I put it over there and connected my phone as a as a mic recording because I knew audio is important. And that's how the first few videos came out those videos still exists, Krishna, they have a million views. They're horribly produced. But for some reason people still like them, because maybe the content was good. And it was honest. And here's the problem with finance. Everyone's bloody like, because to make money in finance, you need to send sell a product. And the larger amount people put in that product, the more commission you get, right. That's how all finance works. insurance works like that mutual funds work like that. Everything works like that, right? Even old school brokers work like that. Yeah. the more money you put in, the more commission you get. So people live in the over promise. So you can't trust anyone. So I said, Okay, if no one can be trusted. What if we were so honest, we would stand out. And people would say, hey, this guy sounds very honest. And I can verify whatever he's saying. And we would put out links, so you can verify whatever you saying is true. And I think that even today helps us grow. Because we're like, Hey, you can't double your money. But you can get this much percentage if you do this, this this, and people find it absurd. But they like the honesty, and that's why they subscribe.

Krishna Jonnakadla  32:32

 Awesome. Awesome. I've ordered more than a decade ago, I read a book, a guy called Mark Teir. He wrote a book called The the winning investment habits of George Soros and Warren Buffett. Right? The the beauty of that book was his contrasting two really diametrically opposite investors, right. So Soros is as anti Buffett as it can get, and he doesn't even invest in the same kind of asset classes that Buffett invests in. And the first chapter of that book is all about demolishing these myths and all the bad habits that people have. So it's up. And I've read that book, like 10 times since every time I read that book, I learned something new. And it shows my own ability in a new light. So honestly, I'm not surprised Honestly, I'm not surprised. The degree of honesty you have is actually helping. Uh, let me ask you a question. Any idea how much is an average insurance agents Commission on the first year of first year policy premium?

Prateek Singh  33:34

Oh, I in percentage I've heard about I've heard crazy numbers I've heard they think up to 50-60%. Is that true?

Krishna Jonnakadla  33:41

 The starting the very most basic, the bottom most percentage is 42.

Prateek Singh  33:46

Wow, man, that's crazy, man.

Krishna Jonnakadla  33:48

 And if you are a little bit of an institutional kind of a player where you have maybe a team of four or five agents, you are almost like a channel partner of sorts.

Prateek Singh  33:58

60%.

Krishna Jonnakadla  34:00

 80,80. So first of all, the question is, why why do you need to so going back, you're saying everybody's lying. Right? So one of the reasons they have to lie is because they want they need to earn that commission. And yeah, maybe lying is incorrect. Maybe like over promising right? make it shiny than it actually is. So you can buy more of it. I don't know. I think I in many cases, take the EULA policies three, four or five years ago, there was blatant lying. I have lost money on I personally haven't lost. My father in law has lost money. So anyway, so Okay, let's come back. And then from there on to Trade.

Prateek Singh  34:38

Right. So Market Scientists then grew because the videos actually did really well. And then that's when I spoke to them. And we said, okay, we should start off something with Upstox. It was called rksv. back then. So and we startedttrade Academy, which was basically the education arm of that brokerage firm. And we The idea was very simple, predicting would teach how to trade and invest through these videos that people could subscribe to, they will also produce extremely well. And then a lot happened over there. And then we move to learn, I'll just skip quickly of how LearnApp is a little different.

Krishna Jonnakadla  35:13

I want you to dig into that a lot happened over there a little bit.

Prateek Singh  35:18

I knew you're gonna ask that. But But basically, I think I tried a lot of different ways to grow the company. And it didn't scale as much as it should have. Because I still didn't know shit. I didn't know how to grow the company, even though I was given free hand to do whatever I wished. So that I think, but I learned a lot of what not to do over there. But yeah, I'm here for what not to do you want to talk about? So first thing is that everyone, from your receptionist, to your marketing, to your content, to even your freelancers have to have one Northstar of why you're doing what you're doing. And where you're going. Every one can have different answers, right? For example, you can't have the brokerage firm saying open accounts. And we say no, we want more people are watching more videos over the week, right? You can't have that right, you have to have one single thing. So we call that alignment, everyone should be aligned. And as you align. And as you grow, if you have milestones, everyone on the team, there should be a way for them to visualize their growth. Because if the company grows, and they don't, they will then push pull back. Because nowadays for our generation, just having a yearly salary increase is not enough. I think people of our generation are working for comfort for vision for growth. And not only security, which I think our parents and our grandparents did, agar naukri hi mil gayi wahi bhaut hai. I don't think our generation thinks like that anymore. Or at least the people that I know, don't think like that anymore, or they should be more in it. And it's not only money, right? It's also their, what they're learning etc. Like they should be fully engaged. That's the first, another example of what wrong to do is that you have to over communicate with people who are involved, stakeholders. And then but they may not be running the business. So I don't think I communicated very well, to the brokerage firm of how we going to grow. Third, you should measure everything we live in. If it's not measured, you're not improving it. So think about your business as this machine, right? You have to acquire users, you have to retain these users, you have to get them to keep coming back and review. And hopefully in the end, refer another user and the cycle repeats. Now for each of these parts of this long chain that I described of acquisition, retention, and revenue, and then referral. They may be 10 different parts within it. So I could have telegram as an acquisition, YouTube as an acquisition, sending emails to the brokerage firm as an acquisition, etc, etc, etc. You have to optimize for each of them. What was the copy? Like? Did they understand it? Are you really solving a problem for your user? I know people keep saying this, but it's so true, like, talk to your users every day. And and you'll really understand what they want. They don't want shiny video, sometimes they just want the answer to a bunch of questions. And if you can do it in a shiny video, then that's a plus. So I think measuring everything right? is so important. So now at learner, we measure everything, including usage, and even at what point a person drops off in a video to know that maybe that portion should not have been created. And it is not helping people upgrade better or invest better. So it also tells us what kind of content to create. So measuring everything really useful for Krishna. So we measured everything a lot. And I can give you we can do a whole nother podcast on how we measure and decide new content just based on usage, and how people click the Share button, how engaging It is like, you don't need to talk to your user sometimes if you can measure the right things. So we know exactly what to create and how many hits will get on our release on Saturday. That's amazing. Right What thumbnail works for an option trader versus an investor, right? Things like that. I think these small things that you're serving the user really, really help. Another thing that I think may help is just having a really good team. I think, Bella I used to try to hire as cheap as possible. I hate I hate saying that. But you don't. throwing people at problems is a very bad way of solving complex problems. The way to solve complex problems it has is have one good really smart person solve it with you. Versus have because this is not a labor problem. It's not a labor arbitrage. Right? If you think for example, I'll tell you a problem that LearnApp is struggling with Can I can I tell you that right now?

Krishna Jonnakadla  39:41

Sure.

Prateek Singh  39:42

Video doesn't solve ability. So if I watch a video, does that person really gained the ability to do that skill? Gosh, really? Yeah, the answer is no. Right? So if I see a video on and this is very anti of what I'm doing, but I will Go ahead and delete the problem. If I watch a trading strategy or an investing strategy, will I actually follow it on a daily basis? The answer is no. The only way to actually do that is to have some coach helping you out, or practice the data analytics part every day. And that's what we'll build Krishna like 70 80% of LearnApp in 2021 is going to be just practicing stuff, using Excel using code using Python on the Learn app platform versus only video. So we found that out because all our users stopped using LearnApp after two months, and we asked them why. And they said, I don't need learner because I'm practicing it in real life. So they should practice it on LearnApp. So you know, that's how you learn.

Krishna Jonnakadla  40:44

The other aspect of it. I've thought I've always long held the notion. And it's, it's, it's sort of a theory in my mind at sea, there are lots of other forces that help us learn pig language. For example, the reason a child picks up, let's, let's say when when, when a child is born, the child doesn't know what is a cow, you have to show the cow and then say, hey, that's a cow. So you show the child once and then next time, the child knows how to recognize a cow. So and when you actually think about language, when you teach, okay, toca means actually deceiving someone. Yeah, you don't actually sit down with your child and say, okay,dhoka ka matlab yeh hai iska matlab yeh hai, you you do not teach your child the meaning of every single word, context. So I so there is a being aspect of it. And there is also the immersion and the environmental aspect of it. That's a merging aspect. So the thing the reason, so many people don't understand that video is not a silver bullet, is he? It is made to look like a silver bullet by the people that want to make it look like a silver bullet. Because right, you know, they'll make money out of it. Right, right. So their incentives are actually aligned differently. So people should always should always think, and I'm not surprised. In fact, I think again, Three cheers for what you just said. One is, you recognizing the limitation of something that you you create it useful to a certain extent, but unless and until it is augmented by a few other things? It's it is not still, it's still not delivering the impact, right? So okay, then, then trade Academy and then learn app. So how did you learn? So you, you now come? us a few few ventures started trading, you're immersed in trading? You're like, I think I know a thing or two about trading. So let me go share with the world. And then so that and then upstox. And then I suppose you hit a glass ceiling or some sort of ceiling in trade Academy. And then that's when you decided to take a break.

Prateek Singh  42:51

 And he said that yeah, it's not it's not growing as much as we thought and, and I was pretty happy in the sense that I get so involved in work. When I had nothing to do the next day. I was like, This is great. I'm going to join enemy. I'm going to pick up Dennis a guitar Karelia in the morning. It was great is liberating. My phone wasn't ringing anywhere. It's fantastic. And I was like, okay, gotta start something new. What should that be? I'm going to enjoy this process now. And anyway, I said, Look, I'm good at education. I want to do that. I couldn't crack it. That doesn't mean I can't crack it. I will. So let me build something new. And this time, of course, I think the difference Krishna is I have Swati, Ankush and Sohail, who are my co founders. And again, these are the superstars who actually build  LearnApp and which is why LearnApp is going where it is today. And and I think that's made all the difference. The cool thing was the initial idea, and you won't be surprised was that Prateek Singh will teach all the courses. And I was sitting down in the morning, taking a dump, I hope I didn't say dump on your pockets. And you know, my mind was open. And I said, Okay, will 100 million users actually benefit from Prateek Singh talking? And the answer was clearly no, would 1 million the answer's no. 100,000, maybe. But what would like 100 million users platform look like? And the answer was, and I call this the genie in the framework, right? assume you have all the resources in the world, you know, Bill Gates, dada, dadaji hai mere. And you know, I have everything I need, what would you build? Like don't limit yourself what would you build? So to me, my idea was, my understanding was if a leader comes and teaches like a warren buffett's teaching, investing, that holds value, if I can practice and build something on the spot and make mistakes and and keep building from there and showcase what I've built, that would be important. If it's super affordable, like a few 100 rupees a month, that would be great. And then I started sketching this out on Photoshop. So in just quick in Malaysia, To pay for school, I used to do graphic design for the school and you know, they would donate our uniforms, etc. So I believe I'm a decent designer, because I've been doing it's in school, right? So after school, I'd go and work there and earn some money. So I sketched all this out in Photoshop, and put all these faces there. And I said, these people are teaching and then I went around, I'm like, dude, if these people are teaching, would you subscribe to this platform? And it wasn't soon before I went to the actual faces that I had put on Photoshop. And I removed the face, and I put someone else's and I said, you know, all these guys are gonna be on my platform, would you like to be there? And that's how we got our first 10 mentors. And the person who funded this and God bless him is Nithin Kamath from from Zerodha from the matter. And he invested in my business plan, which is the world's worst business plan. I don't know why he invested but God bless him for for trusting in us. And that's how LearnApp, LearnApp emerged, right? It was just sketching and showing people stuff. And you know, we got lucky and I was people getting on the platform.

Krishna Jonnakadla  46:06

Outstanding chap, the funny thing is when we kicked off Maharajas of Scale, see, it wasn't that I was a novice or anything. I knew a thing or two about startups. I didn't have a brand of my own. But I had complete clarity on what we were going to do with this platform. It was very clear, very similar to what you're saying about bringing all these various practitioners in it was about the practitioners in the entrepreneurial space, people who are actually making it happen. I don't want somebody I respect somebody who's did it like 30 years ago, I think there are definitely lessons that they're likely to offer, there are going to be timeless lessons, as well. But we wanted to bring that. And Nithin was the first person to agree to talk to us.

Prateek Singh  46:56

 Wow.

Krishna Jonnakadla  46:57

And when I met him, I didn't see any errors about him. He was sorted out, he was so down to earth. And he was and and I had already read a lot about him by then. And Nithin, perhaps is one of the few episodes where, and he is not also very widely covered. Right now. upstox because of all the venture funding they've received and all the little competition that's going on in the FinTech space, and especially in the broking space. Zerodha and Nithin are a lot more in news. But when we began, I think, a little over a year ago, Zerodha was known but not as much as in the news that it's there right now. So he was I'm not surprised I, we spoke about rain matter as well on that particular episode. And his philosophy. And I told Nithin, it is very interesting, because there are very few people, I don't even have a name that comes to my mind where a person that is running that company, or is a founder of that company is telling someone like you Let's LearnApp, there are a few other ventures that he has funded through rain matter, right? Everybody guards their customer base very, very, like Fort Knox. Nithin's, the only guy who's saying, I've got these millions of people. Yeah, not only will I give give you access, I will also go if I like it, I will, I will also fund you. Right? You it's when it succeeds, you know, everybody's going to turn around and say, dude, this guy is very smart. Right. But I know, having discussed that rain matter thing, and I discussed this aspect as well in in a little bit of depth saying, How come you're taking a different approach. And he had a very sensible approach saying, hey, education is necessary. And we will always back you know, ventures that we believe add value, because we can't do everything. And it is not even because he can't, he can't do everything or they can't do everything. Because I think he is who he is. I think you know, Three cheers to him. So I'm not surprised. And also his honesty and your honesty. I think he's he saw possibly someone like him with the same level of dedication and sincerity wanted to do it. And maybe that's why he signed, signed the check.

Prateek Singh  49:11

No, Nithin is something else, man, like, I don't understand half the things he does. I'm like, why are you doing this? And they all this does super well, man. Because even as an investor, I think he's super successful. Like if you look at the rain matter companies, and I never felt like he went to any investment to make a return. Frankly, I don't think he any extra cash is going to change his life. Right? He's just doing this to grow the ecosystem. And he says this, he really means it.

Krishna Jonnakadla  49:40

 He does. That's That's what I meant. So he genuinely means it genuinely means it and, and he's not gone out of his way to to define super tough filters for the ones that should be enabled by rain matter. Right? Yeah. So for him, it is about trading. It's about all of those people that are trading If he sees direct or even tangential value, he'll back that venture. You know, I've seen that. So then,

Prateek Singh  50:07

ya know, I think a summary to what this section I guess is. Mom, dad really supported it, I have three co founders and rain matters supported it. I wasn't alone, which is why this is doing well, if I was alone, it would have probably failed.

Krishna Jonnakadla  50:22

So how did the founding team come together?

Prateek Singh  50:25

Um, so we are all old, very old friends. So I know Swati for 12-13 years. I know I'm good for even longer, probably 14 years. Okay. Um, Sohail, I met it 2015. So five, six years there. So I just know them for so long, you know, but it's the same company, you know, market scientist is the same company has LearnApp is the same private limited company.

Krishna Jonnakadla  50:50

Oh, LearnApp is a different brand.

Prateek Singh  50:53

Yeah. I mean, market scientists served trade or trade Academy as a consultant. Okay. And market scientists today owns LearnApp. So in the 2014 journey, which is continued to now.

Krishna Jonnakadla  51:03

I see. So and these people were there in market scientists as well?

Prateek Singh  51:07

No, no, they weren't there. Um, Cush was there and trade Academy working in a different capacity. But he was definitely there supporting us. And now you know, he's a co founder.

Krishna Jonnakadla  51:17

Outstanding, and how did the How was the initial start? Rain matter obviously gives you access to, like the user base. And in their newsletters. I think he was varsity, isn't it? I think isn't that what it's called?

Prateek Singh  51:35

That's like, they have an education platform called varsity.

Krishna Jonnakadla  51:37

 So varsity and Kai tap, I think there are some places where they introduce the products that they have back through rain matter. That obviously gives you some exposure. But I but in I would, I'm quite certain there is another story, in terms of the initial finding traction. So talk about how the initial days were our traction back then. And how did the scale journey unfold?

Prateek Singh  52:03

Yeah, so I'm just like you said, right? We're not a FinTech platform. So we can't like do any thing to like make kite more valuable. Like a lot of other startups do. Like for example, small case and sensible and streak, right something actually make the trading experience better by becoming a plugin, sort of to the to the tool itself. LearnApp is not a tool. We're more than an education platform. So yeah, we were introduced by them to the world through a blog post and then after that, you know, I think all founders face this Krishna right? So we we spend time in stealth mode, building something imagining what will happen and you know, when Tiger Global comes you know, how you shake hands with them etc. and, and and how you read the funding news in Economic Times and just be like, it's okay, I expected this, I worked very hard. And, and you and you put all of this borrowed inside this rocket, on launch day, you light it up, and you expect the fireworks. But the rocket doesn't light. That's what happened with us we launched there was, of course, a rocket because a lot of people came in on the first few first few months, first month was crazy, like, so much traffic, people loved it. But there was almost nothing right about the product back then. I don't think the learning was deep enough. I don't think the video was great. I don't think we were explaining things which are missing. We didn't know what course should teach what. So that's called curriculum design. I don't think we frankly knew anything about how to make this world class. We're still learning today. But like in terms of what we do to produce one single course, today, is probably use 1000s of data points to determine how that course will start and end. Like if I knew that back then. I mean, all Wow, that would be amazing. So the first month we To be honest, we got this spike, people subscribed, and they never came back. They didn't come back for many, many months. And we couldn't do anything they had paid for three months of access, they would use it for barely a few days, and they wouldn't come back. I don't think I've ever said this before or not publicly in a platform. But this is the truth, right? And the so this is where data comes in. How many days did we obsess over a user? Why they didn't come back? The answer was zero. We didn't spend any time on that. We didn't measure why we didn't talk to them. All we were worried about is we'll add more courses, people will come we'll add more courses people will come and that's the wrong question to ask. Right. The question is how do you give sustaining value. So that was that by Jan 2019. We had burned almost all of the money that we had raised and we had about 90 days of money left probably less depending on how we would you know I probably sell my car or something probably a little more but it's probably less than much less than 90 days and we We had this one option, should we raised money? Or should we just grow the platform? And clearly adding courses doesn't grow the platform, right? That's not how you grow. And we said, okay, if you fundraise, it's going to take many months, it's going to take me three months to fundraise and three months to grow the business, then I'd rather just, you know, let the ship go down. But we put up a fight, we won't be distracted, fundraise, we'll just try to grow the business. And we did three simple things Krishna, we just spoke to I tried to speak to up to 20-30 users every day, trying to ask them why they didn't come back what they want to learn, just tabulated all that data. And this huge book, my co founders did the same thing. We wrote all of this down, found out what they want. We just built it, the users came back. It was it was that simple. And we just we would we did it only once we push to the edge, we started producing the right courses, communication was better. Support is better. And, and that's what we learned through this. Right. So I hope I didn't skip too much. But but that's what we learned in these two years.

Krishna Jonnakadla  56:01

Just take a little, little more, I want to provide one perspective, I think because some of that can get lost in in what you just covered, right? One aspect is see rain mat, through rain matter when zero the introduced you in that you are already being introduced to it, the target segment, right? Every single one of them that's actually reading that newsletter or that blog, is your potential target users. That's right, that for an average startup, to come to that moment. That's where first off most startups, you know, and we are going through our own journey right now, in our FinTech startup, and I'll talk about that in a while. is, I believe there are two kinds of products. A product which has universal appeal, which universal appeal or universal usage. A good example of that is WhatsApp. Right? Yeah. It anybody could use WhatsApp, any two people, you know, you don't have to be a surgeon or you don't have to be lawyer. You know, you don't you don't have to be rich. You don't have to be poor.

Prateek Singh  57:09

The target audience is a smartphone user.

Krishna Jonnakadla  57:10

Correct. Anybody that has a need to communicate obviously has a smartphone. Right now. That's literally 2 billion people. Right? Now, outside of it. If let's say you're looking at somebody who, who needs a, you know, blood pressure monitor device? Yeah, they targeted, very targeted. Now the two are vastly different products. Yeah. So if it is, let's say blood pressure monitoring device, or maybe blood sugar monitoring, we will define that a little more finely. Now the in the blood pressure, blood sugar monitoring device case, you're actually going after people who are diabetic who need to monitor their blood sugar. You start defining, so they're the targets. The question for a founder or a person who created the product becomes Okay, where are all the diabetics? What is the best channel that I can reach them? How can I communicate to them about my product? Yeah, that's that's one. No, in this case, where you have a product that is much more universal in nature, right? Yeah. And even if we go to the extent of a payment app, like a UPI payment app, everybody is on you pile up right now, if you launch a UPI based app now, who's the target check? Is it the merchant? Is it kirana? stores? Is it supermarkets now that what happens with with someone who's created a product like that, they have to go through a journey, they have to look at seven or eight universes of or segments of users and say, go test out each and every segment, where is a pain point, the greatest and get feedback and talking to those users is to a certain extent useful, because you may or may not have if if 1000 people have installed the app or say, you don't know how many of them are really your targets.

Prateek Singh  58:56

Yeah, True. True.

Krishna Jonnakadla  58:57

 As opposed to that, in your case, every one of those people are actually bought or signed up or registered is actually a potential target use.

Prateek Singh  59:07

That's right. So an unfair advantage. We had Krishna was that from 2014 to Now remember, the market scientist channel was still on?

Krishna Jonnakadla  59:15

Yes, yes.

Prateek Singh  59:16

And we had, we had like at least one and a half or 2 million views there and some 30- 40,000 subscribers, right. They could also be funneled? Who were exactly that the audience that we wanted to test our product of 30-40,000 people when they landed and found out because we had a connection that lasted years with them. So for five years, and they knew me, they knew my system. They knew all of that. So when we actually launched those users, which had been built over many, many years, so again, I think compounding of relationships again helped here. That also really helped once we started so I guess the momentum had started in 2014.

Krishna Jonnakadla  59:54

Absolutely. So you have already a curated set, a segmented set. They, now you go, you've gone back and said, okay, because of all that trust they signed, signed up because of the Zerodha trust because the market scientist trust and you know, maybe a little bit of brand equity that you had yourself created back then they've signed up. Now the question is, you've actually, I don't want to use the term short circuited. At this moment, it feels like you're at that moment where you need to focus on saying, okay, you signed up, you didn't get it. What can we change? Yeah, correct. Right. Now, in order for an average startup, I think Barry Diller of interactive Corp, who runs all these fancy online portals, and it's an amazing guy. I think he talks about the fact that in Super, in most platforms, by the time you come to this point, you've actually spent six years with that solution problem.

Prateek Singh  1:00:50

Yeah. Which is what happened here, right? 2014-2018.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:00:55

So and then, so one little, so now that the listeners have a perspective, where once it said, already well defined product, how to reach and it is, and it is, and the challenge here is, it is not possible to define WhatsApp as a doctor to doctor messaging app or no student to eat is not possible the moment you define it that way, then you'll have to start adding features relevant to those sets of people, right? You have to keep it at a high level, and you have to keep testing and somewhere it will work. So those are two nuances. But in your case, I want you to spend a little bit of time and say, when you spoke to those users, what did they say they like? What did they say they did they wish existed? And how long did it take you to come to that realization that? Yes, I think what they are saying makes sense. And how long did it take you take it take to build it?

Prateek Singh  1:01:47

Right? So I'll get a little technical on this. But basically, there were a few key insights with the users who we spoke to have why they didn't like something right. So I'll tell you what sounds fancy. Invest in the market for the next 10 years. This sounds fancy, people can't do it. It sounds very nice to say that you should invest for the long term, people don't have the patience. What people really want to know, can I invest in something and get a return in three months? Okay. Now, the key question over here was three months. Is there a safer way to do it? Yeah, there are bond funds that you could invest in, right? You don't need to take the and that's all they really wanted to hear. When people heard three months, everyone assumed they want an intraday bank nifty strategy, when all they really wanted is what is my option apart from a fixed deposit? So we said, okay, we'll start adding some courses on basics of mutual funds, and how different durations, what's the risk? How do you quantify the risks? And if one fund goes under, which actually happened last year, really large fund? How do you not lose your money through building a good portfolio? So we did that? It was with Radhika from Edelweiss. She taught at Lloyds mutual fund. She taught all the different categories of mutual funds, how they work, what are the risks, how to create that? And then we talk compounding with Rondo, who said okay, how do you actually grow over a long period of time and compound this? So that sort of the user for Okay, my short term problem is this, how do I solve that? And we build those three sets of courses very quickly. And of course, a precursor that is basics of personal finance, how does insurance work? How does it work? How do all these different products work? How do I buy life insurance? Because the problem Krishna in this case is I'm getting a great salary. I'm a software developer and say, Bangalore, I have the savings. I don't know what to do with it. Right is a very different problem. And we said, okay, take this basic personal finance car this thing, and we'll solve it for you. And that did really well. So that set, people started sharing in their offices, people started subscribing on their own decide asking questions, we answered them. So that did extremely well. And there was the great word of mouth. Even today, 95% of all users who land on our website, which is 110,000 active learners today, actually, vanity metric alert, but 1.1 lakh monthly active learners, they come because someone told them on Google Analytics, they all direct consumers. They type in LearnApp, or they've come through email or through WhatsApp or Twitter, one of these social channels, they actually click so we think they're afloat. So that worked really well for us. Then we said, okay, what is the trading community want and the trading community said we want to learn options. They were very specific. We're an options bank nifty, nifty, should be intraday or swing. So they had these specifications are and all of them said the same thing. We created this set of five, six courses. The problem with these courses is it's high risk, extremely high risk, right? You're trading intraday bank nifty, it's high risk. So we created these strategies, which only had a few trades a month. It was super low promise of returns, like the back test that we call was was very low compared to the industry that much higher than FDA mutual fund obviously, but like 10s of digits And people said, No, why can't I double my money? And he said, No, because you lose your money in that same time. And we explain that. And people love that set that went viral amongst users also. And finally, the last piece was, how do I find you people weren't finding us? So we went to multiple brokers, websites, they all talked about us. And we said, Hey, we'll teach them how to trade better invest better, hopefully, they use your FinTech product a little longer, because I think I heard a person blows his account in three months of opening it. Can you imagine that? Right? So that's my market over there. Okay. I don't want you to blow your account, let me tell you how to safely do it. Right. And, and, and I think we just solved for these different personas that we created. And we said, okay, how can we make the life easier, even though we'll say stuff that they would not like to hear? And I think the viral coefficient, right, people talking about it was very high. And we just basically tabulated it and created a series of courses based on that. And that's, that's all we did. We there was no magic bullet, like, that's all we did.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:06:04

Outstanding, outstanding. I mean, the level of depth in what you spoke about this phenomenon, isn't it? Because the the normal? And and when I contrast this with what you said, which is, this is not stuff that video doesn't create ability, right now in your yard, what you're actually doing is, in effect, creating a context beyond the lesson, or the content itself, isn't it? When you're talking about that option trading, and that you're actually giving them a strategy, and you're telling them this is the strategy. And these are the steps to implement the strategy. This is how you would learn from the strategy. And, and the beauty of the context in which you operate also, is that you can go implement, and you can see those results. And the beauty of it is and if the results are money making in nature, even more better in Nowhere in the world, do you have a set of situations? Okay, I'm watching this half hour circuit works. Okay, Mere pass circuit nahi hai.

Prateek Singh  1:07:09

What do I do next? The amazing thing was Krishna, we gave out the sample codes also. So what you could do is you could change the parameters, so you don't enter it. 920 109 25 correct. And you could run that test for years and see for yourself. So it's LearnApp is in teaching law. And I've just enabled you to reach a point where you could test yourself whether something works or not. So you don't have to trust LearnApp, you have to trust your ability to read, like text, on code. And that created everything.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:07:37

So so. So to go, go Go back to your point, you're actually coaching for ability and not coaching for Knowledge.

Prateek Singh  1:07:45

Yes, that's right.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:07:46

Huge difference. Huge difference. And and and I've said this before, way back when I was 10 years old, in India, you still had these job oriented courses. And you know, I've been talking about that ad nauseum on most of my episodes. Today, we have a we have a country where we fancy certificates. And the certificate doesn't tell you jack about your ability to actually do that damn thing. Right. So my daughter, my daughter score distinction in state level, state level violin. And yesterday, and I sue Jr. And so I told her, the certificate is for you to tell a certain set of people that you've done something correct. It is not an indication of your ability to play the violin. Well, yeah, that can the when you are playing the violin crappy the certificate will do you no good. Yeah, I said there are enough people that have done senior and you know, beyond with one with one in a particular in a particular stream in music. And they still don't compose anything new. They don't make any net new additions to music. So I want you to, I want you to rejoice the moment, but I don't want you to, you know, don't rest on your laurels. Continue to continue to consistently build on your ability and not your certificates. I said crit pull it up. If you feel like it, put it up. But I'd rather you not even put it up the wall. But God has developed that ability is what I told her. so fantastic. Any inflection points other than that one in your so So initially, a lot of people bought it. And then how long was this journey of you building that useful content? And then where you started, a graph fell like this, and then it went up again?

Prateek Singh  1:09:29

Yeah. So I think I hate to say this, but we launched in August 2018. We didn't figure this out. Until like a year at least. It took a while. Yeah. That sounds harder than a year is a very short time in the life of a startup. It took a while. And January, January 2020. That's when we things picked up a lot. Wow. That's when you figured out okay, how is This working, what's wrong? What kind of content to build? What should we measure? etc? So I think, yeah, I think that was the time when we January's type picking up, then Corona happened. So again, we got lucky, I guess, and everyone where we used to say, live online webinar online on your computer. And we used to write that to explain what an online class was. We just started calling it live class. Because everyone knew after Corona, what an online learning experiences or online chat is resume is. So yeah, I think traffic really went up in March in April. And that's when we got a lot of users coming in. Luckily, the stock market is also doing well. So I'm sure if I do a correlation between like learn app users and stock market go up. There's some correlation happening over there as well. But I'm sure we'll have more users when the market falls, because that's when it's easy to be a genius in a bull market, right? You can just buy anything, and you look like a genius.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:11:03

You're not a genius in a bull market, you're a pig in a tornado.

Prateek Singh  1:11:09

 So I guess as the market falls, or if it falls, I think it's really expensive right now, but if it falls, a lot of users will have to come back because, you know, they've probably burnt their hands. But yeah, I think those are that was the second inflection point, like Corona, taught people that they can do stuff online, it taught the entire education industry that if you want to solve something at scale, it has to be online. We don't have enough teachers in the country to actually teach everyone. And if you look at IMS, and IITs, etc. I mean, I didn't graduate from school. But I notice that how many 1000 people come out from these universities very, very low. Right? So how do you do that level at scale, I think learn ultimate aim of 100 million users what I told you, finance is obviously just the beginning. But we'll have to do a lot more to master this before we start going horizontal into other subjects. But this is great example that, you know, Alexander the Great had Aristotle, to teach him, which is maybe why he and every king had someone to advise him, which is why what made them special. But the world needs a digital Aristotle, you know, so the first company which is able to come closer to that, where everyone can get high quality ability, and not the ability to do something. I think that education company is going to change the world, right? So if you can solve for ability, like you said, and not knowledge, you've actually changed the world. And that's what we're going to try to do in 21 make the resume irrelevant with this new tool that we're building. I think certificates is like history, no one's tried to update certification. And I think learn Apple tried to do that this year.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:12:54

Outstanding, outstanding. And yeah, I think digital Aristotle, or whatever we want, we want to call it and so many streams, this one aspect, another sort of glossed over detail will be in the cases, the stock market is online. Yeah, in your case, both the universe in which you are applying the knowledge is online. And the place where you're consuming the knowledge is online. Unlike the olden days, you're not you know, storming into the well of the exchange and actually shouting the courts. Right, you're actually doing both of them online. So you're here. And you extrapolate this to let's say, there are a lot of online skill assessment platforms, for instance, and you dig a little deeper, they've achieved scale. But if you actually see the place where they've achieved scale, or again, is only in programming, right?

Prateek Singh  1:13:48

Correct, because data science is online, and they're learning online.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:13:51

Correct.  But we we need enough things. In my mind, the true company is where, to a certain extent, we'll definitely need a virtual reality, artificial reality plus virtual reality, plus a digital digital assistant plus a platform plus a real world, all of them augmented, augmented together, augmented reality, I think, is possibly the tool that will change because then all of a sudden, your the things that you're imagining are very different and great to a great extent. When you have a physical universe in which you need to learn. For instance, let's say somebody you need, you're teaching somebody to play a role. Right? That's an ability. Now the augmented, the best thing for him to do is actually to lay the road right now though, the next best thing is for him to use augmented reality as opposed to seeing somebody in a video saying okay, this is how I mix it. Right in augmented reality, at least before he died tries in a low cost manner. He can do that. I think that's where we are possibly headed next. And we'll need because there's humongous amount of change that still needs to happen in India. And that will not happen. But, but it is. I'm, I'm just wondering, yeah, if it's peaking too early, like every Olympic athlete, the fundamental difference between an Olympic athlete and a normal athlete many times is not ability, there is also a emotional side of it, right? The emotional side of it is, they know when to conserve energy and when to actually expand it. Right. And you expand it when you realize that this is the moment where you need to peak. Right? Yeah, I'm, you know, there are lots of everybody that started an edtech company, I think seems to be doing business right now. Nobody very little bit of lead very little of quality assessment is going on what can What is this platform doing? What is this platform not doing? And normally, you already have a FOMO effect with people. And with the case of Indian parents, they have FOMO all the time when it comes to their kids. Your kid is doing this, oh, my kids should also do this, okay, I use a very basic barometer. I have two children, a daughter and a son. My whole thing is, if I am not hearing about a tool in my parents circle, then I really don't value that. Right? If something is valued at No, some zillion dollars, I will value it. If I hear parents around me come to me and then say, Okay, this is making value. But in your case, I think it's, it's awesome. So what's next for? What do you see next? You've already talked about extending it beyond videos in that ability building site. And anything beyond that, where do you see five years from now?

Prateek Singh  1:16:54

 Yeah, I mean, to be honest, I think five years is very far. Like, yeah, that's the truth. I think, for this year, right? We just do like, six months targeting in the next six months. But I think that two major things that we want to do. One is, again, use more data to know how to make this better get better retention, better, all of that better value for the user, we'll do all that. But the like to measure our success with the ability of the user, I think that should become so right now, when people say, what's your scale? They mean, how many users how many subscriptions, and that they will multiply the number of subscriptions with what you're charging? And that will mean scale? Right. So I think the real measure should be how many people didn't have an ability in month one, and have this amazing ability in month by month three? And how do you know that that ability is amazing, right? Were they able to get a better job? Are they able to earn more? Were they happier, like what happened with that ability? And if they can do it all on your platform or on the learner platform, obviously, then then what does that look like? So all this practice that we see that we do right now in life classes, we switch on our cameras, our mics, and it's okay to do this in front of me. And if they do it, we say it's it's past, there has to be a digital equivalent of that, which is what we're building right now. So I think that I have a lot of hopes on that because I feel once people start building some imagined Krishna, you land Ilana learner, you never say you pick investing or trading or even business studies or right, and in the first five minutes, you're able to solve a very mini problem with an actual company, and you see a tick mark over there, and then you go on to a video, and then you maybe pick a bunch of stocks in 2010. And then it fast forward to 2020. And you realize what portfolio creation is without actually learning it just by seeing real data. That would be amazing, right? Which is what people call experiential learning fancy word. But if they can actually learn through experience by making mistakes, that and then videos are also a part of it. Right? And I'm sure next year, when I talk to you, I'll say, oh, all this is important. And you know, this is also important, but we need to have VR. And you know, this experiential learning is also part of it. So we might zoom out a little more, and then zoom out more. But I think right now, what edtech is trying to prove to the world as they go online, you can learn. That's it. We are very nascent. Right. I think just the first step is, you know, online, you can learn I think that was sort of people believe that sort of in 2021. What's the next step? So I think we'll work on that this year.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:19:30

What's on your reading list?

Prateek Singh  1:19:32

Oh, what's on my reading list? Oh, bad. I'm reading a book on marketing. 21 immutable laws of marketing as good. I finished range recently. That was nice. Outstanding. Yeah. Because, like I I think I'm a generalist, so I could relate to it.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:19:50

Echo chamber. echo chamber?

Prateek Singh  1:19:54

Yeah, exactly. Like Yeah, I believe in this. So I think Vince was nice. I'm reading another book. I forgot the name of it now. But yeah, I think nowadays in the morning, I'm reading Zen pencils. I don't know if you've heard of it. But I think everyone listening to this should like Google sentences, like immediately and start reading it, it will change your life. It's amazing. But I usually read three or four books at a time actually. I'm reading one book on product management called the build crap right now. So so I have three places where I read these books, one in the toilet, one on my desk and one before I sleep, and I read them all simultaneously, or the fourth book is novels books. So navall Ravi Kant's. Someone compiled all of novels thoughts in a book. So I thought that was I'm reading that that's pretty interesting, too. So and finally one on copywriting, actually.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:20:51

So you should read Alchemy by Rory Susskind.

Prateek Singh  1:20:56

What is it about.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:20:58

The power of ideas that don't make sense.

Prateek Singh  1:21:00

Oh, that sounds interesting. That hooked me.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:21:03

Outstanding book. Outstanding. It's so, so amazing. So the I think it in India, it has a different title. But overseas. I think it's called alchemy. So that's fantastic. So we've discussed a lot about do's and don'ts. But I'll still ask the customer a closing question for people that are starting up right now or in the midst of something wherever they are, what would be your two words of wisdom?

Prateek Singh  1:21:30

Start, the biggest mistake we make is we get into analysis paralysis and just make a plan and then try to dive deeper into plan. Imagine that your plan will have 3040 iterations. So if you delay launching your first step of your plan a year from now imagine when the 30th irritation, irritation will happen most likely would have run out of money, start iterate, and that's your edge not marketing, not copywriting not a fancy product or software. All it does is hogwash. iteration is what makes you King just build and just just keep building every day as fast as you can. We made that mistake, please don't.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:22:08

 Outstanding, outstanding. Prateek I've thoroughly enjoyed the conversation that we've had. I think your your your experience comes through in everything that you've spoken about today. I'm I'm not amazed, you know, even for a minute that you've built the kind of I've used learn app myself, although I'm not a subscriber, but I've seen the different kinds of content that you create, created and the depth with which it can only be possible if you spend this much amount of time in that, right. So I know you'll scale greater heights when you scale the next peak Maharajas of Scale will come back to you and speak to you to see what the vantage point is. What's the view like from that vantage point, and we wish you the very best keep rocking.

Prateek Singh  1:22:55

Thank you. Okay, thanks.

Tania Jadhav  1:22:58

We hope you enjoyed the story. If this story made a difference to you, tell us by leaving the comment on the website, or our social media channels. Help us spread the love by subscribing, liking and sharing our show. We welcome speaker suggestions and collaboration. Write to me at heythere@maharajasofscale.com