With the philosophy “every student has multiple talents, but when it comes to highlighting those credentials, the only thing students could present is their academic scores”, a new startup Unfurl was born. Unfurl is the first entrant in the focused peer to peer knowledge exchange platform. On Unfurl, students have the choice to build and generate a credible profile while continuing to work with peers in the areas of mutual interests within their comfort zones. In a way, it helps the students to create, enrich, or showcase talents & skills beyond the academics. At the core is a set of analytics that adds power to their activities by highlighting strengths, and understanding the areas of improvement.
Unfurl was founded by Krishan Mittal, ex-director of IT t Cadence, Ajay Singhal, an IIM-Ahmedabad alum and Deepika who handles the marketing department for the company.
Krishan’s entrepreneurial journey started about 17 years back when a sudden recession hit the IT industry in the US in the late 90s. He along with three colleagues came together and created an ERP solution for insurance sector to streamline the customer underwriting process. The initiative didn’t go very far, but the involvement in product development, interactions with customers, partners and technical collaborators gave Krishan the opportunity to dive into an entrepreneurial journey. Around that time, Ajay was consulting with businesses to grow the scale of operation. He was always interested in doing something in the education field, and had a strong belief that time was ripe to educate the students about building sustainable careers. Years later when Krishan broached the idea of peer to peer linkages for students, he got excited and the Unfurl began taking shape.
“The problem is that students feel that they are not industry ready while organisations complain about students not employment ready. Unfurl seeks to bridge this gap,” says Krishan.
In this era of social networking, life is inseparably getting woven around Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Do these platform help in achieving their goals? When students come to Unfurl, they can network on the basis of their queries and interests; enhance their skills or nurture their hobbies by participating in the activities posted on the platform and even college level extra-curricular activities, so every bit is getting highlighted in Unfurl.
But ultimately, it is the users who will define how the app is used. For now, the startup is focused on Engineering and Business Administration institutes around Pune and planning to expand to other metros and tier-II & III cities. It’s also exploring opportunities to try it out in US market as well.
“Our initial journey was quite interesting. We spoke about the solution to a wide set of college principals and administrators before initiating the work on the product. Our vision of product was appreciated by almost everyone,” recalls Krishan.
But as the first beta version of the product was released, the team realised that appreciation of an idea does not always lead to the adoption. There were vast gaps. The first big moment came when an ex-CEO of Future group, endorsed the initiative and also helped bring Arvind Chinchure as the mentor for the startup. Arvind is very well accomplished and advisor on the board of many companies. Since then the number of subscribers to the product has grown multi-fold.
It has been an exciting journey so far for Unfurl. The team has realised that solutions to problems lie somewhere in the eco-system and finding them is the challenge entrepreneurs’ face. The product is never complete in the beginning and a successful product and scalable business model go through several iterations before it reaches the market.
“The entrepreneurial journey is about contentment and thrill that each iteration gives,” concludes Ajay.