October 1, 2013 by Rupesh
Your Company turns 4 today. Congratulations to all of us.
Prof. Sridhar and I founded InOpen 4 years ago with help of few friends because we believed that building a good educational product would improve people’s lives and, hopefully, the world. And in the 4 years that’s followed, we’ve been constantly excited, overwhelmed, humbled and challenged by the ways in which people have used Computer Masti — such as a school converting its gallery into a computer lab for teaching Computer Masti or someone in Iran (and few other countries) trying to sell pirated/copied/translated versions of Computer Masti.
As a company we have always tried to concentrate on the long term, and to place bets on improvements or additions we believe will have a significant impact over time. It’s hard to imagine now, but when we started InOpen most people thought there was no scale (and no fun) in only teaching Computer Science to school students when there are other important subjects. We felt the exact opposite: that if we can impart life skills through Computer Science Education, we would clearly not only make an impact in field of Computer Science Education but to the lives of students.
Today it feels like I am watching the same movie in slow motion over again. We have new products and the horizon looks crazy. Today InOpen through our partners have an impact on half a million students and is growing fast, thanks to its simplicity, and focus on simple things.
Prof. Sridhar and I have always wanted InOpen to be a company that is deserving of great love and trust (one of the reason why we have invested in vernacular CM content and services in rural areas impacting 15,000+ students directly). But I recognize this is a highly ambitious goal because most companies are not well-loved, or even seemingly set up with that in mind. However that for me is a personal goal to achieve this year.
As a company InOpen is lucky to have a very direct relationship with our users i.e Schools and students, which creates a strong incentive for us to do the right thing. For every magic moment we create—like a child creating a game in scratch or a wonderful presentation or apply step wise thinking in other subjects — we have a very happy user. And when Computer Masti or services don’t work or we make mistakes, it’s easy for Schools to go elsewhere because this is a very competitive market.
I feel Schools place much trust in InOpen when they adopt Computer Masti and make it a part of core curriculum and do away with existing content (and practices). 200 schools have shown this trust. It’s why we should be more responsible and invest more in our school services. The recent changes/additions like pre-implementation visits to educate Schools, online assessments, working in different geographies (USA, Middle East and Japan), content for different School Boards, e-book have generated much interest. I am sure with better technology integration and quality human resources we will create a much better, more intuitive experience across InOpen products — our key focus for the coming year.
All that said, we recognise that we don’t get everything right—and that those few wrong hiring, few lost clients, like the continuous chocked bandwidth, sometimes those delays in salaries, outstanding receivables, delay in a critical project or the delay in raising investments can be very upsetting. But we don’t operate in a static industry, and things changes so fast that we need to innovate and iterate even when we have problems in hand.
Of course, when we do make mistakes we try to fix them as quickly as possible and, if necessary, change the way we do things to prevent problems from arising again. And we work hard to explain what we are doing—and why.
People rightly ask how we’ll scale up revenue from these big bets. We understand the need to balance our short- and longer-term needs. InOpen is a for profit company and revenue is the only engine that shall funds all our innovation. But over time, our emerging popular products will likely generate significant new revenue streams for InOpen and all the associated stakeholders, so we invest aggressively in future innovation while tightly managing our short-term costs. We have managed to generate higher revenues year-on-year but we need to push the paddle higher. Our revenues this year is almost 5.7 X from 2010-11 and profits have doubled since last year. In last few years, we have managed to get a very strong visibility in Education sector in India and to some extent abroad. The outlook seems to very very positive.
When I was doing my B-Tech research project at IIT Bombay 7 years ago, I went aboard on a crazy idea that of developing an Operating System. The goal was ‘easy to use, zero vulnerability and free of cost’. My team and I was able to achieve that (Thanks to Sridhar sir’s guidance) and eventually InOpen happened. But what I got in return was a healthy disregard for the impossible. This somehow got into my character. I find it comfortable to make progress on mega-ambitious goals than on less risky projects. I am still the same crazy college boy. I am sure we all are crazy in some aspects.
I feel that we all face difficulties. But I observe a common pattern. A ‘Big’ problem of the past becomes ordinary in the present. Similarly the ‘Big’ problem of today will become ordinary issue. Just Hang on!
I failed and faced lot of challenges in last 4 years. I am no superman but I just managed to stay calm and move on. I don’t think I could have ever learned so much in my life otherwise. My failures taught me one thing that I don’t have anything to loose from this point but only gain from it.
I will summarise my thoughts/learning as one liners:
- An Opportunity used is an opportunity lost.
- Focus on your objectives and fundamentals (rather than the end goal). Everything else will automatically get attached (out of nowhere).
- Be grateful. Do not behave opportunistically with ones who truly loves and care for you. It is in them that your strength lies.
- Do not bluff. Don’t be defensive. Before you realize it will get into your character.
Today the opportunities are greater than ever. Things we used to think were magic, we now take them for granted: For a child or the parent the ability to get the best content instantly online, or for a teacher to quickly solve his/her curriculum problems and to find information quickly and easily, for a school to have all the data on their finger tips. Schools / Teachers / Students are buying and investing in better content more than ever before and using them more because good Education and technology is playing an increasingly important role in our lives.
I believe that by producing quality Educational product with right technology integration and services that touch people deeply, we will enable every student to think clearly, do amazing things and change the world.
It’s a very exciting time to be at InOpen, and I take the responsibility I have, to all of you very seriously. Those are my expectations. Please let me know if we are falling short in these areas. My door is always open. Thanks for listening.
Team InOpen has always been a set of hardworking people, on a mission, and with a promise. I am proud of Each one of Us and i want to once again say I love you. I am very thankful to my Board of Directors and my mentors who have supported InOpen and me through thick and thin.
Happy Happy 4th Anniversary once again. All the best wishes for years to come.
‘One and one is two, and two and two is four, and five will get you ten if you know how to work it’ – Mae West
Gratefully Yours, Rupesh Kumar Shah, CEO and Co – Founder – InOpen SINE IIT Bombay
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