Armed with a B.Tech degree in Computer Science, 34-year-old Asha Bineesh, a homemaker from Kakanad, Kerala became an entrepreneur four years ago with the launch of her successful YouTube channel Competitive Cracker, where she coaches aspirants for various competitive examinations.
What started with a handful of followers in 2016 has grown to accommodate more than 5,000 students and over 2.6 lakh online subscribers.
In conversation with The Better India, Asha explains how having started this online training platform with an initial investment of just Rs 30,000, the company clocked in a revenue of about Rs 1 Crore in FY 2019-20.
Using The Power of Youtube to Build An Audience
After graduating in 2006, Asha, like many of her college mates, also prepared for competitive examinations. “I cleared the bank exams and underwent training. It was during this period that I realised how there was a shortage of good coaching classes for these competitive exams,” she informs.
The idea stayed with her. The thought of doing something on her own was a constant presence in her mind due to the lack of quality coaching classes. In 2015, she started recording some lectures and put them up on YouTube.
“Initially, given my knowledge in computer science, I decided to try and put up coaching videos on Math and GK on YouTube. The first two videos barely had any views, but then it picked up, and people started appreciating the content,” she tells me.
Asha had started with only one laptop, a basic model smartphone along with an investment of Rs 30,000. “It was after the third video that I started receiving phone calls from potential students urging me to take classes for them,” she says.
This was the signal she was waiting for, and Asha rented a small place in Ernakulam to launch her coaching classes. “At first, there were only three students, but slowly by word-of-mouth, more students joined me,” she recollects. Competitive Cracker was thus born and has since grown to become a multi-channel learning platform — with contact classes, online materials and even a mobile app.
Shift to online teaching
Even before online learning was the norm, Asha decided to move her coaching classes to the online model to be able to reach more students. “When I started online, it wasn’t the preferred way of learning at all. That in itself brought with it some challenges, but I decided to give it a go nonetheless,” she says.
In the beginning, Asha and her friend, Mithu, conducted the classes. As the reach grew, more people started approaching Asha eager to teach and be a part of her teaching community. Currently, there are twenty-seven teachers in her team.
For a year after it’s launch, Asha was a one-woman-army taking care of everything from creating content for her Youtube Channel, making the videos, marketing, sales, and finances. Three years ago, Bineesh, [Asha’s husband] an MBA graduate, quit his job at Hindustan Life Care and decided to join Competitive Cracker full-time.
“It was my immense trust in Asha and the work that she was doing, which led me to quit my lucrative and steady corporate career,” says Bineesh. “I am very proud of her. She has managed it all exceptionally and to be able to lend my support and expertise to Competitive cracker makes me happy,” he adds.
Innovative teaching methods
Asha has not let the lockdown period deter her; instead, she turned this disadvantage into a learning experience for her students. In one Youtube video, Asha is busy in her kitchen, making lunch for her family. While cooking, she throws in bits and pieces of information that students appearing for competitive examinations must be ready with.
“Do you know what the acid present in tamarind is?” she asks as she stirs her rasam. “Tartaric acid,” she answers and then picks up the next ingredient which will go into the rasam. This goes on, and by the time she has made the rasam, students have learnt something new.
“There is something to learn in everything we see around us – one just needs to find the right questions to ask,” says Asha. She goes on, “I am passionate about cooking, learning and teaching, and this lockdown gave me a chance to merge them all,” she chuckles.
Deepu S (29), a resident of Kottayam, joined Asha’s coaching classes in 2016 and was amongst one of her early students. “What’s unique about these classes is how accessible Asha is. No matter what doubts I had, I could always call and get it cleared,” he says.
Having secured a rank of 1,141 in the Kerala Public Service Commission examination, Deepu is now waiting to get placed. “For those looking for coaching that is concise and focussed on clearing examinations, Asha’s classes are great,” he says. He also mentions that Asha’s tips and tricks for Maths are especially useful.
Cost of modules
The cost of the package varies depending on the module and the number of sessions one chooses. There are courses available from Rs 1,000 onwards, and some are also being offered for free. You can click here to access the entire list of courses available.
Asha and her team also maintain a blog where exam dates, syllabus, and other relevant information is updated frequently. Click here to access the same.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)