“In Bihar, having your own startup is not a common thing. People mostly want government jobs, because that brings security. According to me, they do not understand. There are many other things out there in the world.” With these words, Ravi Kumar certainly counters the Bihari stereotype. Passionate about technology, he and his friend Anshu Kumari founded “RK Crystal” in Patna, where they provide students with the practical skills necessary to work in the technology industry.
They began to consider this when Anshu struggled with her application to a company. “I went there for work experience, but they told me that I don’t have the technical knowledge about the things that I was studying. So I thought that there are many people like me who may have taken up tech-related subjects, but did not have any practical knowledge of the subjects or topics that they studied. So we decided to teach some students and impart the practical knowledge that they actually need in a corporate job.”
The two already had a project in which they provided small start-ups with free websites. They were now eager to pass on that knowledge to aspiring students. Having just graduated from St Xavier’s college in Patna, it was not difficult for them to contact the principal, who agreed to let them hold their course for students of the college.
Anshu and Ravi teach alongside their friend Manish; Ravi explains the theory, while Anshu and Manish offer practical assistance to the students. “The course is very intense, “One month. Two hours, three hours each day. That’s how we teach.”
The youth venturers started out by teaching 70 students in the city, most of whom were not computer students, as these skills are applicable across different fields. It took some time to raise enthusiasm amongst the students enrolled. Ravi recounts, “Initially, the students were not sure whether this would be a fruitful programme. But once we started, after 30 hours of work, more people actually tried to join this programme. However, because of practical issues we could not expand it too much.”
The interest was sustained, and there were plenty of students who wished to enroll in future courses. To expand their initiative, they select students from their courses to act as future instructors, starting off with 15 from their initial course. “According to our model, each college needs three people to teach. So now we are six groups. In the first stage we were teaching 70 students, but in the second stage we will be teaching 420 students at once. And that’s how it can go on multiplying.”
Since the initial course, fourteen other courses have taken place across Delhi, Lucknow, Patna and Kolkata. On the 7th of March, a year after first starting their company, they successfully launched a school management system.
Anshu and Ravi have received wide recognition for their efforts. This March they were selected as Global Shapers for the World Economic Forum. Their company has also been selected for the Bihar startup Incubation, allowing them to operate in most developed Indian cities free of cost.
Eyes to the future
The team is by no means leaving things at that. They look to the future alongside their friend Apoorva, who as the vice president at RK Crystal plays a vital role in future development, looking into the company’s business plans and feasibility analysis, as well as contacting colleges for the programme.
In addition to continually expanding their current work, they are planning to organize ethical hacking workshops in five Indian cities this year. There will be a series of workshops in each city, offering corporate paid training for the upliftment and promotion of cyber security in the country.
Given the rapid growth of their initiative, Ravi is optimistic about the future, “I see this as something very big in the coming years. But of course at the same time, it is a big risk in our lives. I don’t know what will happen next. But I am looking forward to making this successful and creating a positive impact.”
The passion for their work is evident in both Anshu and Ravi. “What keeps us going is the idea, first. The second thing is our friendship. Whenever I’m falling down, the others support me. Whenever Anshu has a problem, we try to support her. And that’s true of the entire team and that’s how things go on. Our camaraderie has been the greatest sustaining factor,” says Ravi.
Both Anshu and Ravi take particular pride in being from Bihar, and hope that initiatives like theirs will change the mindset in their state. “A government job is not the only thing which secures our life. What happens if you are doing the same boring thing for twenty or thirty years? There is some passion in ourselves, we need to find that passion, we need to find what we can and like to do, and we should do that. I believe we have only one life. So we should do what we like, not whatever gives us security. Because life was given to risk it.”
[**The article has been updated since it was first published]