A deep-rooted passion for students has led Arpita Soma and Surya Adavi to start Yo!Grad – an online community portal for students to network, learn and share their experiences. From internships to discounts, Yo! Grad is one-stop solutions for all students’ needs.
Known as InternFever previously, Yo!Grad wants students to start networking right from their college days. Earlier as InternFever, they provided 5000+ internship opportunities for students. They were shortlisted among the Top 500 startups in the country as part of the Economic Times Power of Ideas contest in 2012. To enhance a student’s ‘employability’, one needs to address all the challenges they face.
Since InternFever was addressing only one need of students i.e. internships, they revamped their platform and came out with more exciting features like offers, college fests, event information and online clubs much to the delight of the students.
Arpita Soma, an alumni of University of Cincinnati, says, “Our mission is to make students more employable. And this can be done only by addressing all the challenges a student faces. The biggest challenges students face is having access to information, and mentoring support. We are trying to solve these problems through Yo!Grad and want to help at least one lakh users by next year.”
Her co-founder Surya Adavi is a computer science engineer from JNTU University. He is also Y Imagine Excellence Award winner, which was conducted by Young Entrepreneur in 2011. He is a Jagriti Yatra Fellow in 2009.
Speaking about Yo!Grad, Surya says, “Students faces a lot of challenges while in colleges. We are trying to seamlessly aggregate everything a student needs in one place.”
At Yo!Grad, students can create clubs and connect with like-minded students from other colleges for networking and conversation. They can even discuss their problems and take informed decision about their careers.
Since there are 70 million student internet users in India, they have enormous opportunity to dominate this space. She further says, “Yo!Grad is an online community for students. It is totally driven by students. We are just providing them a platform to make things easier for them. We are still in version 1 and are launching feature by feature.”
Yo!Grad is bootstrapped with initial funding of 2 lakhs. They already have 150+ employers on their collaborative platform, which is updated regularly with offers, fests, jobs, internships and student ambassador programs. Students are rewarded with reward points, which they can redeem for offers and discounts.
In January 2015, Yo!Grad won TiE Smashup Hyderabad out of 200 startups and was funded INR 10 lakh against 8 percent equity. Arpita says, “We want to use this seed fund to reach out to more users and also invest in scaling up our team.”
When asked how they are going to manage the competition in this education sector, Surya says, “There are several student portals in the country but each addressing a different cause. So the competition is very fragmented.” Speaking about their revenue model, she comments, “We charge brands and companies for helping them reach out to students for hiring or marketing activities.”
During the initial days of her startup, Arpita faced many challenges regarding her startup and personal life. She says,” Self doubt is the biggest challenge- you are constantly judging your idea, your business and most importantly yourself. Every entrepreneur feels this at some point. And also work-life balance was a big challenge for me. I used to always feel dissatisfied that I am not able to do justice to my family and work. But then I read somewhere that you have to compartmentalise and that seems to work really well for me. “
When asked about funding she simply she wants to shares a quote of Tim O’Reilly, Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media – “Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.”