It takes a lot of courage and commitment to build a startup, and we strongly believe in ideas that can change the world. As we see startups grow and reach new heights in our acceleration programs, we are taking the opportunity to interview them and gain an insight into what drives them.
Today, we are in conversation with Charushilla, the founder of ‘University Connection’. (Accelerated by UIncept in the 2015 cohort)
Can you tell us more about University Connection and how did it happen?
University Connection was born out of the need in the education sector of devising career plans for students in an unbiased fashion. It was in September 2013 that I started University Connection out of my living room.
We now help undergrad and postgrad students to get into top colleges and universities including the LSE, Harvard, and many others.
We saw that a lot of students who wanted to study abroad had to go to agents whose commissions were tied to a few communities, because of which, a lot of students settled for less than what they deserved or could have gotten. I thought of this being a very impartial way of getting opportunities because a student should not have to go to one college and not the other just because someone’s commissions are aligned with that.
University Connection was always going to be about students and families because a choice of studying abroad is a lifelong career choice. It is an important decision that should not be based on anyone else’s motives but the students’.
What bigger problem is University Connection solving for the audiences it’s catering to?
Career guidance is readily available in our country. It happens over dinners, in family discussions, and even distant relatives are ready to jump in when it comes to your life choices.
Career guidance can never be one-size-fits-all. We are trying to give it a structure and an overall perspective to each student we help.
We do this so that when a student takes this crucial life decision, they are confident in their choices, clear on their goals and do not second guess themselves.
How did you get in touch with UIncept and Mr. Gupta?
I got in touch with Mr. Gupta back in 2014 when he needed guidance for his children. I have been mentoring them and it just moved from there. When he saw what we do, he saw credibility in our work. He felt that this was different from all the other people he had met (and he’s met quite a few since he’s seasoned in the industry!). You can’t fake it with him and he sees right through things beyond what we can actually perceive.
We were very privileged to get connected with him and it gave us major exposure. He looked at the idea and how we were progressions. He invested time to figure out how we were developing our product and how we were reaching out to students. What also stood out for him was the trust that parents showed in us.
It has almost been 4 years since University Connection got accelerated- but my connection with UIncept is still as strong.
What was your team size before accelerating with UIncept and how have you grown?
I think we were barely two people. It was me and another person who helped me out with the operations and admin.
Today, we are a team of almost 10 people. Not just this, we have also established centres across Jaipur, Faridabad, and NCR as well.
UIncept guided us throughout this and supported us. They also helped us plan our employee strength in a way that our work does not suffer no matter what the situation.
Could you tell us about the growth in the number of customers/users pre and post Acceleration?
I don’t have the exact numbers at the back of my head, but we’ve grown 200 times.
How do you think UIncept was instrumental in your growth?
I think staying connected to a larger organisation that is learning-focused is a very big advantage. We are thrilled to be a part of the UIncept team and in a lot of ways, your network is your net worth- and with UIncept we feel that is completely true.
How do you think is UIncept still in touch with you and helping you in your growth?
Any opportunities that UIncept sees that might be a good fit for University Connection- they always make an effort to bring us that.
Also, when they’re out attending conferences and events, whether, outside India or within, they meet so many people and if they identify an opportunity for us, they connect us to great business prospects.
Beyond that, I really enjoy their networking events where they have a lot of knowledge sharing.
What kind of events have you been attending at UIncept?
I try to be a part of all of the events at UIncept. They have so many different activities, conferences, and sessions happening. From keynotes by successful entrepreneurs to sessions on deep thinking and strategising- everything is an enriching experience.
Would you recommend other startups to be a part of the UIncept acceleration program?
I have already!
UIncept is India's premier startup incubator and accelerator-based out of Gurugram, India. In our pursuit to create startups that become the disruptors for tomorrow, we provide mentorship, investment and growth opportunities to the young entrepreneurs who work with us at our campus. Learn more about us and our programs here.