CxO of the Week: Hemanth Goteti, Co-founder, Toppr, has close to 14 years of experience, he started off as a software engineer and now heading Toppr
What is your top priority while making decisions to improve tech infra in your organization?
Every decision is based on picking the right balance between three key factors - speed, reliability, and time to market.
When it comes to prototypes, time to market is my first priority. The focus is on understanding student problems and developing technology-based solutions. My team of developers and I ensure that this solution reaches students quickly, instead of perfecting it without user feedback.
Next, student behaviour on our app is constantly evaluated, and we gather their feedback. This is used to improve all existing features of the app. During this improvement process, we focus on reliability and speed.
At Toppr we understand that building tech infrastructure, like everything, is an iterative process. The faster you iterate, the faster you learn what the customer needs.
Challenges you face in driving digital transformation?
As a company, we started digitally. Internally, we did not go through any digital transformation.
However, we have been on the road to transforming one of the oldest industries in the country. Students were not habituated to studying on their phones or tablets. Parents were sceptical about giving students a phone to study.
This transformation fills a large gap in the education industry. Using AI, ML, and Big Data we give students a personalised learning experience. Instead of being lost in a large classroom, learning at a speed that they are not comfortable with, students can learn at their own pace. They can ask doubts at any time of the day or night via a chat app and get them resolved instantly.
As more students and parents saw the advantages of learning on our app, we saw a sharp growth in our student base. We now have over 5 Million students on our platform, and each of them learns in a unique way tailored to them.
Do you feel that freshers in the industry come with only basic knowledge but don’t have the right skills to fulfil job requirements? If yes, your suggestion to students and colleges?
There is a big difference between knowledge and skills - and both are equally important. Having a strong knowledge of your basics is the first step in learning any new concept. Today, colleges focus on providing theoretical knowledge to students and ignore practical life skills like problem-solving and analytical thinking.
For example, they focus on teaching Java over programming principles. Moreover, they lay emphasis on the summary of concepts and the conclusions of theories instead of teaching the reasons behind these concepts. Understanding the ‘why’ is critical to developing curiosity, exploration, and structured solving amongst students. I think that these skills are missing among fresh graduates.
What’s your mantra to become successful in life?
I wish I knew a single mantra for this. However, over the years I have observed that most successful people are relentless and passionate about their goals and vision. These qualities are necessary, but not sufficient. External factors and luck do play a small but vital role too.
Not chasing success per se and chasing what you really want to become will perhaps put you there, as long as you don’t give up in the middle.
What would you like to give back to society?
I think that any kind of material ‘give-back’ is temporary in nature. It does not make a lasting impact. Leaders should inspire as many people as they can to pick up difficult problems and solve them. Do what no one has the courage to do, and do it with passion. If we want to build a self-sustaining, healthy, growing society, everyone should inspire a few more to create something new.
Your favourite book and what are you reading now?
I’ve liked Zero to One and High Output Management. I like Zero to One because it is a distilled thought on what has generally made startups successful. High Output Management approaches management as an engineering problem.
I like reading books on psychology, innovation, and science. Understanding how and why do humans interact to form complex societal structures, nations, and religions is very interesting. For me, science is a way of life and is always fun to read. This is why books that scientifically explore the reasons behind perceptions of right and wrong are fascinating.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Co-founding a startup usually means that you don’t have much spare time, even 5 years down the line. In the time that I do get, I spend it with my kids and family.
Achievements (Awards & Recognitions)
Toppr has won several awards like the Top 50 International Education Companies with Impact by Tyton Global Growth 50 - 2018,
Best Education Platform by Indian Education Awards 2018,
Best Educational Website Award by IAMAI Awards 2018,
Best Educational Website Award by IAMAI Awards 2017,
Best in Education Industry by AWS Mobility Awards 2017,
Top 10 Hottest Startups by CB Insights 2015,
Top 20 - EdTechX Global Awards - 2017
I have close to 14 years of work experience.
First Job: As a software engineer at a services company in Gurgaon
Education: B.Tech in Aerospace Engineering from IIT Bombay
Take a look at the previous CxO of the Week