The next milestone: From Flatchat to Unacademy

TL;DR Moving to an advisory role in Flatchat, will be working full time on Unacademy.

As I look back at the journey of, and now Flatchat, I remember my college days when a broker would give me 10% commission for every friend I referred to him. Soon we ended up creating a small platform for students to help them find accommodation in Juhu and Andheri. Then magic started to happen, a few months later I met Aakrit Vaish who came to give a guest talk at my college and he immediately offered me funding. I didn’t take it, because at that point of time according to everyone else leaving Directi’s offer would have been stupid. In retrospect, one year of Directi was an experience I kind of needed because it helped me a lot in the way I have done things in the companies I started.

But then one year later I did quit Directi, and started along with Hemesh and Aakrit (who also put in the initial funding). The first few months of running a startup and realising it’s not all that jazz as it seems gave me some of life’s most important lessons. Ten months later we decided to get acquired by CommonFloor on one condition: They will let us run the company independently. People said, 'Acquisitions are bad, you shouldn’t have sold'. People said 'They will merge and not let you run independently'. Some also called it an acquihire. In retrospect, I feel it was the best decision that we made. Why? Because Flatchat would not have been possible without CommonFloor--the kind of freedom, guidance and insights that we got were remarkable, and working with Sumit, Lalit and Vikas is probably one of the best things that happened to us. And we did flourish.

Flatchat has become one of the highest rated apps in real estate category, got more than 200,000 downloads and is now launching in multiple countries. And not ignore to the fact that our competitors are copying us shamelessly, so thank you for looking up to us. In the end, it’s not how much money you have raised, it’s about creating an impact and value that can outlive you.

What also happened in the last one year is the creation of a brilliant and yet lean team across all departments at Flatchat. Thus today, as I move to an advisory and non-operational role, it gives me immense confidence that Flatchat is in good hands under the leadership of Sachin, Sugandha and Alok. Of course, I will be completely involved with Flatchat, I just won’t be managing the day-to-day operations. Like a father is to a child, who has grown up! :)

And what influenced this decision of mine? It is Unacademy, something that started as a YouTube channel in 2010 and that has now become a free education revolution in India. With around 10 million video views so far and one million views every month, it is one of the most subscribed educational channels in the country. This is high quality educational content distributed for free.

Education is something that has always excited me and I am proud to announce that we will be building a platform that takes the democratisation of education to another level. High quality education should be affordable and accessible for everyone. I am joined in this initiative by some of the smartest and dedicated people I know, each of them a rockstar in their own way: Hemesh, Sachin and Roman (who will be taking out whatever time he can from his administrative role with the Government).

We hope to disrupt free education for good.

Why we need to add educators as a category in Forbes 100 Celebrity List

As I stumbled upon the Forbes nominations for Top 100 Celebrities from India I had a revelation, there is one obvious and highly impactful category missing among all comedians, actors, musicians and authors. The missing category has the potential to create more impact that all of the above combined, the missing category has to the potential to change the fate of the country. It’s high time we should start looking at Educators as celebrities. 

It all started when a month back I read a post by Miten Sampat - and we ended up discussed how we at Unacademy are doing almost a million video views a month and how Roman Saini is teaching more students than any other educator of this country ever has at the age of 24 - and it's not just him, checkout videos by Ravi Handa, Mrunal and the list has just started to grow exponentially. Technology has a long way to go at enabling educators at massive scale but the symptoms are visible today, for a particular topic why should we see any other video than the best one? Why should we learn from any other than the best teacher for a particular subject?

As with Roman, it’s quite evident that celebrity teachers or educators will have a massive fan following and as you wait for the next trailer of your favorite actor’s movie or book of your favourite author you would wait for the next video by your favorite educator.

And hence, it’s our responsibility to also encourage people to teach. Because for far too long Indian teachers except top schools and colleges are seen as “the ones who couldn’t get any other job hence they’re teaching” which is a very bad mindset to have. An educator or a teacher is someone who can impact people’s lives in a massive way and now more than ever. Educators must and will enjoy as Miten said the same kind of fame and following as other celebrities do.

We at Unacademy believe in democratising free and quality education and doing our best endeavours to provide best explanations of all educational topics. Like to help us? Send me a mail at

Don't consider yourself an entrepreneur

1: Don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur

In my first year I didn’t know what the word ‘entrepreneur’ meant.  When I saw the Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement address for the first time, my eyes welled up. Since that day, I had this voice in my head telling me, ‘This is how I want to be. I want to do what I love.’ And then what, I did just that—I made blogs, wrote short novels, began teaching on YouTube, and made web portals— the works. Entrepreneurship was the byproduct—it was the term that others started giving to people like us, but we were simply doing what we loved and solving problems for ourselves and others. Finding flatmates, good educational content not being available online were the problems I faced and thus I worked towards solving these. Today a lot of people, especially students, think in the direction of becoming an entrepreneur first and doing what they’re good at or what they like becomes secondary. A friend of mine is an awesome guitarist, I always thought he would do something in music, but just because everyone else was doing it, he also started a food delivery startup. He doesn’t what he is doing— he is simply doing it because he wants to be an ‘entrepreneur’—and he is failing at it. 

So, don’t be an entrepreneur. Do what you want to do, do what you love to do.

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Quora: How do I convince my 17-year-old-son not to be an entrepreneur?

This one time in 7th standard when I had got a new computer and CD Writer, I started selling pirated game CDs for 50 bucks to my classmates and used to earn around 30 bucks per CD. My Dad found out that, I got a scolding and he slapped me and asked me to focus on studies at the moment and not worry about money. I stopped doing that.

When I was in 8th standard and wanted a new computer which my Dad told me he will get me if I got 90% and I knew I could never do that, I thought of starting a magazine for my colony in Jaipur and it will have all the stories and poems from kids in our colony, I got the deal done from the printing press, I got tuition teachers and grocery stores to agree that they will advertise and I realise if I sold the magazine at 17 rupees a piece eventually will end up making some profits and make it large and buy my own computer. I had the habit of boasting, I still do, so I told it to my uncle who told it to my Dad and I remember that I got berated severely for not focussing on my studies and wasting time. So just before two days when I had to give the order to the printing press I had to cancel and stop everything. I studied and got good marks thankfully, though it's never enough.

Breakup, hitting rock bottom, standing up, bouncing back

I had heard somewhere that the best way to connect to someone is to show them that you are as crazy as them. 

Six months back

She called me ten days after the breakup and told me that the breakup hasn’t happened only yet and then she broke up with me the very next day again. I was sure this was the girl of my life and almost sure that I will end up marrying her. Did it hurt? Well, the only time I did not feel the pain was when I was sleeping and that’s why I slept most of the time. And then I skipped couple of days of work. It wouldn’t have mattered much to a company if I were an employee and would have been taking a leave but the problem was that it was a company I had started and I was the so-called CEO of the company or if you want to be more mainstream call it a “startup”. Between the lines advice: unless you are building the next Whatsapp, it’s better if you run your startup like a company and not your company like a startup. If you didn’t understand that, someday you will. Even worse is when this is the company which you have started after putting whatever you had on stake, after quitting a 16L CTC job from Directi which people yearn, after not listening to your parents to do further studies.

In a relationship as in a startup there is something called as the honey moon period where everything seems perfect and filled with passion and you are excited that you have just found your love (or started something you have been dreaming of). It’s filled with some of the most awesome moments the happy times, telling people about your happiness and sharing with them. It seems like things are all sorted and you are always in a certain sense of high. Then reality hits in…

Be the first penguin

This afternoon I finished reading 'The Last Lecture' the book by Randy Pausch. The book is really inspiring. There is this incident which Randy shares in the book. During the time he taught the course 'Building Virtual Worlds' he encouraged students to attempt hard things and not to worry about failing. And he had this award called 'The First Penguin Award' and it went to the team that took the biggest gamble in trying new ideas while failing to achieve their stated goals. The purpose was to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and using imagination in a daring way.

When I was small, every year Unichem Laboratories used to host a Trika color competition to promote their product 'Trika'. Children of doctors from all over Jaipur used to assemble at a venue to paint the sketch of a butterfly (similar to the one just below). And there were three prizes for the best paintings. Children used to bring crayons, oil paints, color tubes, sketch pens etc.

#IAmGaurav - The day Gaurav met SRK - God is Fair

Being a crazy Shahrukh Khan fan, I had made a point to keep a track of Ra.One in every possible way. This time all the press conferences were broadcasted live on youtube and I made sure that I watched them. One such conference was the Cinthol Ra.One association press conference, the one in which Shahrukh had launched a special Cinthol Ra.One Deodorant for men. I remember I was watching it live at Shivanshu's place one day before the Advanced Computer Architecture examination. During the press Q&A session I remember one journalist asking Shahrukh whether he will be visiting Big Boss for the publicity and he had replied that he would not be going to the show because of certain time issues but he would be coming to KBC on 7th October. I enjoyed the press conference and got back to studying ACA (that is another interesting story). 

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