Businesses are growing, and start-ups are coming into existence. In this time, where we have immense scope for business and technology, it can be an exhilarating option as a career. We can see many start-ups in India, which are shaping the economy of the country. As we are in constant research and development mode, the country can see a rapid increase in start-ups in future. There is a possibility that start-ups can emerge across diversified sectors of the economy.
Infigon Futures is one such career mentorship and Artificial Intelligence-powered education start-up, driving the career counselling industry dynamically.
Following are the interview highlights of Omkar Patil Founder and CEO of Infigon Futures, where he shares his insights about the company.
Kindly mention in detail your start-up and its inception story.
Infigon Futures is an Artificial Intelligence-powered education and career mentorship platform.
With 35 crore students in India, nearly 95% do not receive professional guidance while taking crucial career decisions. Infigon Futures is committed to solving this problem by providing professional advice, most, efficiently and affordably possible, for students right from Grade 6 to Post Graduation.
All our services are offered through our mobile application, ‘Infigon – The Career Mentor’, which is available on the Play Store and App Store both. Our process is efficient and straightforward – Students first attempt a 15-minute self-analysis test. Based on the results, we suggest career options most suitable for them, from a pool of 1500+ career options.
They can select one of these suggestions as to their target career, get details of all the education paths available to achieve their target career, and then connect with our expert counsellors. Our counsellors guide them at every step of their journey. They can connect with our career counsellors at anytime from anywhere.
We also offer some additional services which help students with their skill development, exam preparation, admission processes, resume building, and placement preparation. Our goal is to provide career and education mentorship to 1 million+ student across India by 2025.
Founded in August 2020, the founding team spent the first 6 months, researching and understanding the problems of Indian students from various educational backgrounds. After gaining deeper insights into the same, we formulated our product idea. Sardar Patel Technology Business Incubator gave us incubation, and we are currently working out of there itself!
Brief us about the featured person and your journey towards starting your business.
Raising a start-up is an arduous job. You need to invest your time, money, and all the hard work in it. While doing so, you may find your peers having a stable job and an income. However, when you are mad enough to transform your vision into a reality, trivial things do not matter.
I, Omkar Patil, always had a knack for business and the idea of starting Infigon Futures took a concrete form when I started a youth organization called ’The Summit Alliance’ back in April 2019. The organization was created as a platform for students hailing from diverse academic backgrounds to come together, interact, exchange ideas and collaborate, creating a very conducive learning environment.
This organization witnessed participation from over 5000 students from different corners of the country, which allowed us to establish associations with over 100 schools and colleges. This is where I got insights into the education industry, got to know about the core problems, which students and parents face during their formative years.
I worked as the president of this organization for one year from April 2019 to April 2020, post which during the pandemic, we decided to convert this into a start-up with the sole vision of solving the core problems with the majority of the students being in our subcontinent face.
What is the current scenario of the industry that you are catering to?
Career counselling is an essential building block of any individual’s professional life. It is multi-faceted and opens new avenues for students and professionals to explore and pursue. Proper guidance to the young impressionable minds of students goes a long way. It has been proved that students and professionals who undergo career mentorship are much happier in their professional and personal life.
In India, however, there are deep-rooted issues related to career counselling, issues like availability of counsellors, affordability of counselling services, traditionality in the format through these services are offered, and general awareness amongst students related to these services.
- Availability: Catering to the needs of millions of Indian students by the existing number of career counsellors is insurmountable. About 20-30 lakh more career counsellors would be required for the same, where we currently have only approx. 1.5 lakh of them
- Affordability: The career counsellors in the market today charge a minimum of 10,000 INR for their services. For a vast population of the country, these prices are exorbitantly high.
- Traditionality – The current process is entirely pen and paper-dependent, and there is little use of technology in the counselling services offered by the counsellors in our country. It makes the entire process heavily dependent on the expert counsellors, which further leads to the problem of availability and subsequently affordability.
- Awareness: 31.5 crore students in our country do not have access to these services, which creates the issue of lesser awareness, but as and when more technology-based career guidance companies start providing these services for a cheaper rate, the awareness would automatically start increasing.
All the negatives being said, there is a sudden increase in the demand for counsellors in our country as students are more and more aware of newer options due to easier access to the internet. Also, the New Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) launched by the central government, which focuses specific importance on vocational guidance, has opened the eyes of parents and students from urban and rural areas.
We believe that our product was launched at the perfect time where it has been observed that there is an exponential rise in the requirement of career and education mentorship services amongst parents and students.
Is your start-up bootstrapped or are you looking for funding options?
Though our start-up is currently bootstrapped, we are looking forward to raising a seed fund by the end of 2021.
How has the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic influenced your business operations?
Founded in August 2020, Infigon Futures saw its inception amidst the uncertain times of the pandemic. For any business entity, the starting phase is crucial and is a period of growth and commitment. All our staff had to work remotely from home during the pandemic, which added constraints to our team management.
None of us was used to this medium of communication. Video and audio calls over multiple platforms like Zoom and Google Meet were our only medium to navigate through the crucial stage of strategic growth planning of the company. To fully accustom ourselves to these platforms took some time. Our deepest condolences to the individual fighting corona on the ground, and we hope for everything to turn around to normal.
As a start-up, what steps are you taking to acquire new customers or retain the existing ones in these challenging times of Covid-19?
Our business is based on trust and being there for our students whenever they need us for any of their career and education-related needs. That is exactly what we are doing during the tough times of this pandemic to retain the existing clients and further acquire new ones.
We have been in constant touch with all our students over online meeting platforms so they do not feel left alone and know that Infigon is there for their career-related needs. It has allowed us to create a sense of trust in students’ minds towards Infigon, which ultimately leads to more referral-based acquisitions.
Regardless, our main student acquisition model is by associating with schools and colleges, and during this pandemic, we have been able to establish associations with 60+ schools and colleges.
What kind of products or services your start-up offers?
Infigon Futures is an Artificial Intelligence-powered education and career mentorship platform.
All our services are offered through our mobile application, ‘Infigon – The Career Mentor,’ which is available on Play Store and App Store both. Our process is simple and efficient –
Students first attempt a 15-minute self-analysis test. Based on the results, we suggest career options most suitable for them from a pool of 1500+ career options.
They can select one of these suggestions as to their target career, get details of all the education paths available to achieve their target career, and then connect with our expert counsellors. Our counsellors guide them at every step of their journey. They can connect with our career counsellors anytime and from anywhere.
We also offer some additional services which help students with their skill development, exam preparation, admission processes, resume building, and placement preparation.
What kind of challenges have you faced while incorporating your company?
Operating in the 100% online mode, we faced circumstances that no one had foreseen. One of the major challenges was operations management. Initially, our target was to associate with 15 colleges in 2 months from February 2021, but we ended up associating with more than 70 in that tenure; managing all the campaigns running simultaneously in all these colleges online was an excruciating task.
Where do you envision yourself and your company in the long run, and what are your future goals?
Our target is to establish associations with 500+ colleges and 200+ schools and cross 100k application downloads by the end of December 2021. We aim to provide offline counselling to 50k students in the same tenure.
It is our vision to launch our mobile language in multiple regional languages so that anyone and everyone from any corner of the country can get access to quality guidance through our application, eradicating the language barrier, which is a major hindrance in this industry.
By 2025, we aim to make career counselling a new normal in our country. Today, 31.5 crore students out of the 35-crore student pond of India, do not get access to career guidance and we envision putting an end to this situation using our application.