“If I can use the ‘magical tools’ [computers] to liberate the child and make him break away from the drudgery of the classroom, I would accomplish something.”
The Chairman and Managing Director of Educomp Solutions Limited, Shantanu Prakash had this lofty thought at a time when children in schools were still taught in the same way as they had been a 100 years back, and “education was a field where qualitative advancement had been the slowest.”
A first generation entrepreneur, Prakash soon translated the thought into a loftier vision and then a reality when he founded Educomp in 1994, a few years after graduating from IIM Ahmedabad, making it the first company to provide technology-enabled education in India.
While the success of Shantanu Prakash with Educomp Solutions is a known story, we bring you ten facts about the ed-tech entrepreneur that are as astounding as the man’s journey in India’s education sector.
Take a look:
1. Shantanu Prakash faced struggle right from his childhood
The difficulties faced by refugee families in giving their children a normal upbringing are like the proverbial elephant in the room – everyone knows it’s there, but no one wants to acknowledge its presence.
Hailing from a refugee family himself, Shantanu Prakash had to struggle a lot right from his childhood. He opened up about his experience as a refugee in his speech at TEDxZaventem, where he acknowledged the need to aid refugee entrepreneurs in their business endeavors.
2. His first stint was a home-grown events management company
After schooling from Delhi Public School (Mathura Road), Shantanu Prakash pursued B.Com. from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. During this time, he started an events management company along with a friend. They made about Rs 4-5 lakh in the 80s, before Prakash left the company to join IIM-Ahmedabad.
3. Educomp was started with borrowed money
After completing education from a top-notch educational institution like Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad), Shantanu Prakash joined an SRCC colleague in the education-aids business, much to his father’s dismay.
In 1994, upon knowing that the CBSE has introduced computers as a part of curriculum, Shantanu Prakash left his friend, borrowed money at high rates and started buying computers to install in schools. The growth of Educomp Solutions was slow but steady and profitable. “This is where I learnt the most valuable lesson in business — sell to consumers who can get others to pay!” says Shantanu Prakash.
4. Apart from Educomp Solutions, Shantanu Prakash is also the founder of RVentures Foundation
RVentures Foundation a non-profit organization that works towards promoting the integration of refugees in the host country by imparting them education and aiding their entrepreneurial ventures. Prakash conceived the idea during his speech about refugee entrepreneurship at TEDxZaventem.
“Refugees have mostly been singled out in terms of help leaving them at bottom of the labor market. We believe that refugees are fundamentally entrepreneurs because of the struggle and the challenges that they have faced in their lives. Not only do they have amazing characteristics of risk-taking, resilience, flexibility, creativity, but also the ability to start from zero – all highly prized entrepreneurial qualities,” reads the RVentures official website.
5. Shantanu Prakash is a proud recipient of several awards
- The Educomp founder’s contribution to the development of the Indian education sector has been acknowledged and lauded by several known names in the industry.
- He is a proud recipient of the Ernst & Young ‘Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2008.
The ET Now’s ‘Leap of Faith’ Award in the category of Education for year 2010, Dataquest ‘Pathbreaker of the Year 2010’.
- The ‘Shiksha Ratna Award of the Decade’, the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ at Indian Education Awards 2011.
- The ‘Dare Entrepreneur Award’ in 2011.
6. Belief in Intellectual Capital
A BBC report stated that Shantanu Prakash chose a business model with a “high amount of intellectual capital and [little] financial capital”, requiring only about $1,000 to get started. This in itself is a great inspiration for youngsters out there who are worried about the lack of huge capital funding.
7. His venture Educomp Solutions has also received numerous accolades
The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Just like Shantanu Prakash has soared to great heights and received several awards of excellence, his brainchild Educomp Solutions, too, has received great praise. Educomp Solutions was named the company of the year in the ICT & ITES sector at the CNBC-ICICI bank Emerging India awards from over 5,000 enterprises in 2005. It was also chosen as ‘Future Titan’, one of the 10 hottest companies in India by Outlook Business magazine in November 2006. Educomp was also listed among the ‘200 Best under a Billion’ for the Asia-Pacific region by Forbes.
8. He runs a non-profit foundation for underprivileged school children
Shantanu Prakash Foundation (SPF), an initiative by the Educomp Solutions Chairman and Managing Director, collaborates and cooperates with identified initiatives in education that helps the underserved or deserving with limited means.
9. He turned his back on a career in investment banking
Shantanu Prakash was offered an attractive career in investment banking while he was in IIM. But Shantanu, who wanted to build something of his own, turned down the offer unlike most of his batch mates.
10. Conversation with Sadhguru
Spiritual leader Sadhguru spoke with Shantanu Prakash, CEO of Educomp Solutions, in a recent event in 2013. Prakash questioned Sadhguru on how education has shaped him, and his personal experience in education to which Sadhguru replied “My only sadhana has been to remain uneducated.”