Sachin Malhan brought new meaning to the concept of student entrepreneurship when he started Law School Tutorials that aims at providing learning solutions to aspiring lawyers across the country, while he was still in college.
He didn’t just stop there. After a few years, he co-founded Rainmaker to deliver value and scale to the legal ecosystem through their learning, content, and technology offerings. In business jargon, the term Rainmaker is used to refer to a person who brings in a substantial growth in business resulting in additional cash flow and earns a high regard within his circle. Very aptly named venture indeed!
Today apart being a proud owner of successful start-ups and many more ideas in the pipeline, he serves as walking proof to the ‘Start Young, Stay Ahead’ philosophy that Letsintern has always resonated with.
We caught up with him in a brief chat, where he talks about his time as a student entrepreneur, his many successfully running start-ups, the challenges he faced and his special new venture aimed at making the lives of visually impaired easier.
Q) You founded Law School Tutorials in your third year at college! How did you go about it at that time when most of the students were busy focusing on passing college exams?
A) 1999 was a very exciting time to be in college and in Bangalore (we were at NLSIU). It was the time of the dotcom boom and entrepreneurship was very much in the air. With a naiveté typical to college, a few friends and I decided that we had to start something. So we thought up ideas and decided to do Law School Tutorials.
We’d do our college course work during the day and LST work post dinner. Often we’d be up late at night. It was hard work but so much fun! We divided responsibilities and learned the skills to do them. So I was responsible for the site and the legal reasoning content and actually learned site design and learning content skills. Over a period of time we got better and even started delegating stuff to others. There were many mistakes but there was also real, authentic learning that helps to this day. Creating your own venture is so much fun.
Q) Your second venture Rainmaker provides learning and placement solutions whereas your third start up Inclusive Planet aims at a completely different domain of bringing disable people the required opportunities. What made you to take such a transition career-wise?
A)I think that entrepreneurship is a unique capability by itself. There is a notion that if one has been an education entrepreneur the only thing one can do is education ventures but that’s not true. I think that entrepreneurial skills enable you to create value in most areas. So you go where your interests, and life, take you. This word ‘career’ needs to be understood carefully. I strongly believe that while you need to be practical, you can’t design your entire future in one grid. You have to be open to where life takes you while at the same time you make real investments in your skills, experiences and relationships.
A) The goal of Inclusive Planet is to transform learning and development opportunities for visually impaired people. We went about it in two ways – one, changing the domestic and international laws that the limit the access of reading material (books, journals etc.) to visually impaired people and two, creating an online community of visually impaired persons massively sharing their personal collections of content, information and experiences.
Q) A unique venture like Inclusive planet must have come with substantial challenges during development. What were the most common issues you faced and how did you overcome them?
A) Yes, there were many challenges and I, as well as my co-founders, learned an awful lot, some in a hard way. Some of the issues we have faced:
- We structured ourselves as a for-profit and then ran into fund-raising issues because for a model like this to become self-sufficient will take a while, and we couldn’t raise the kind of money we needed.
- The founders were in different locations and that created misunderstandings.
- We should have spent more time building the right partnerships with existing NGOs in the space. We had some but we weren’t all fully aligned.
As a result while we built an online community of close to 10,000 visually impaired people, led domestic legal reform and facilitated international reform, our online platform struggled to stay afloat.
Q) How can an average person, say a college-student, contribute to Inclusive Planet?
A)You can do three things to be a part:
1. Follow @inclusiveplanet and support the crowd-funding campaign that we plan on launching in a couple of months.
2. Reach out around winter time for an internship where you can play an active part in nurturing the community.
3. Be an ambassador for the rights of the blind and visually impaired to the same kind of learning opportunities that the sighted have.
Q) Are you currently working on a project?
A) Currently I’m working with Ashoka, a global organisation that identifies and supports social entrepreneurs. Ashoka has a network of over 3500 social entrepreneurs, and is very active in India. In India some of the areas where we’re doing a lot of work is nutrition, road safety, low cost housing and more. To learn more go to www.ashoka.org.