Do invest time in networking

Rakesh Godhwani, Founder and CEO, School of Meaningful Experiences

Alma mater: IIMB

I was employed at Intel when I enrolled for a part-time MBA programme called PGSEM (now PGPEM) at IIMB in 2001.

The three-year programme helped my transition from an engineering role to a business development role. After finishing my PhD in 2018, I started my edtech venture—the School of Meaningful Experiences (SoME), which aims to improve human life and soft skills of students and working professionals from various age groups.

IIMB played a crucial role in my entrepreneurial journey. It shaped my thoughts and made me realise how my role as a CEO is not limited to the managerial challenges of revenue, products, supply chains, execution and people, but also included looking at how we impact society at large and leading a more meaningful life. As a part of the programme, I attended seminars and talks, where complex business, environmental and social problems would be discussed in an enriching environment.

In 2008, when I quit my corporate career to pursue teaching, writing and academia, I was offered the job of CEO at the IIMB Alumni Office. With the support of the community, the office became one of the first professionally-driven alumni associations in India and the model was replicated in almost every other IIM. In 2011, I was appointed adjunct faculty of communication at IIMB, which I continue to be till date.

I taught many entrepreneurs, mentored a few, and finally took the plunge myself by starting SoME. In 2020, the plan was to open five new centres, in Bengaluru and Chennai, but, everything came to a grinding halt because of Covid-19. With low cash reserves and a dull sales outlook, my small team and I rebooted our strategy and embraced the online teaching model.

The transition to the online model was a blessing, as we soon started getting learners from as far as Dubai, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Vienna, and London. Being online also enabled us to make our curriculum accessible to learners from smaller towns such as Alwar, Agra, Hubli, Belgaum, Salem and Coimbatore, to name a few. SoME ended last year with the graduation of nearly 250 students and we are expecting more than 1,000 learners this year from various Indian and international cities. We have also been able to raise two rounds of angel funding.

The MBA programme gave me a solid foundation in managing strategic tie-ups, legal contracts, shareholding agreements, cash flows and building teams. I was exposed to diverse topics such as the future of work and AI, and how we have little control over everything around us. My connections with my IIMB batch mates and alumni network have enabled me to create awareness about my company. So, do invest time in networking and relationship building. Who knows, your co-founder could be your batchmate and your investor could be a senior from the institute.

As told to Abhinav Singh