“In 2012, I didn’t even know what the word startup meant. Now, I have my own startup called WordsMaya and hopefully we will take it to an international platform,” says Harshad Bhagwat, founder of WordsMaya (http://www.wordsmaya.com/). For Bhagwat, receiving an engineering degree and working at Tata Research Centre did not satiate his hunger for growth and innovation. “Despite my professor being incessant that I complete my Phd, I didn’t want to bind myself in a particular field, since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Subsequently, while working at the Tata Research Development and Design Centre I realised I wanted to start something of my own,” adds Bhagwat.
Training programmes and startup events that headlined as- ‘How to start your business?’ lured the inquisitive engineer. “While attending these events, I finally saw an outlet to fund my own ideas. That’s when I made a pact with my wife hat by 2015, we would quit our jobs and venture into creating our startup,” But, the desire and passion to start something of his own made Bhagwat quit in 2014 itself. Building on an idea while working, the entrepreneur decided to put it to action. He created a GRE genie app which enabled GRE students to improve on their vocabulary skills. Though the idea was well received, it didn’t turn out to be a profitable venture. “People were liking the concept but were not willing to pay for it. Then we thought of another concept but that didn’t take off either,” laments Bhagwat.
Despite 2014 being “a year of failures,” WordsMaya being nominated among the Top 10 innovative startups in the educational category by Unitus Seed fund, re-energised the budding entrepreneur. Coming from an educational background, where even his sisters were lecturers, Bhagwat wanted to work in the education sector and solve a problem he genuinely believed in. Thus, reworking on his previous project he came up with WordsMaya-English on chat to help those who want to learn to speak Effortless English. “My wife and I realised that improving your vocabulary is not just for people preparing for GRE, but for everyone. I remember struggling with English as well. After personally speaking to almost 1,000 students and professors, their positive response to the concept, gave me confidence that this could work,” explains Bhagwat.
WordsMaya, which started in 2015, is a digital function that provides immediate assistance in order to better one’s communication skills. In short, it enables one to enhance their English speaking skills on chat, once the app is downloaded. The consumer can select from an array of interesting courses depending on their need. Once the course is completed and the assignments given on chat are done, feedback and guidance is provided by the WordsMaya team. Their courses range from Basic English Grammar to how one can crack a job interview. The founder further adds, “With WordsMaya we want to instil confidence amongst people to enable them speak English. While conducting research, I attended Spoken English classes as a student and realised it is a polluted market, with no quality standard. WordsMaya intends to rectify that.”
Overcoming a series of stumbling blocks, which Bhagwat now terms as “learning steps”, his efforts have finally borne fruit. As of now, WordsMaya caters to graduates, housewives, retired individuals, training companies and businesses. Some of the major challenges the startup faced was building a strong team and Bhagwat’s search for a technology partner; With time these concerns were resolved too. “I began a company with interns and now I have full time employees. Also, through the city’s startup groups I found a technology co-founder,” gleams Bhagwat.
Growing from a team of just two people, Bhagwat plans on expanding the startup and innovating further. “We are planning to introduce more specific courses such as a course designed for housewives and a resume course. In future, we hope to target other non-English speaking countries as well.”
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