'Pyjama Profit' author Varun Mayya, who is now a digital content creator, has been making headlines for his edu-tech start-up Avalon Meta.
Varun, the founder of Bengaluru-based online recruitment services platform JobSpire, recently received Best Education Influencer Award by Entrepreneur India at the Influencer Summit & Awards 2021.
Through his YouTube channel, Varun has been making content on topics like business, education, virtual reality, gaming and also been giving career advices to youngsters.
In an conversation with The Free Press Journal, Varun Mayya talks about Jobspire, Avalon Meta and more.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
How did you come up with the idea of starting JobSpire?
JobSpire started because me and a few friends wanted to start a business and tackle a really big and personal problem. We believed that the giant job board platforms in India were outdated and we were uniquely positioned to win that market. That’s when we tinkered away and started working on JobSpire - by making recruitment fun and more transparent for both applicants and employers.
Where did you get the initial capital for your business from?
Initially, the friends I started the company with and I had a stint freelancing on a platform called UpWork. We pooled our resources together to pay for a small apartment in Delhi where we got to work on the platform during our winter college break. Within 3 months, we ended up raising capital from a US based investor and a few Indian angels.
As a student, how difficult was it for you to execute the plan? Did people take your ideas seriously?
At that point, not a soul took us seriously. A lot of my classmates laughed at me and my idea. But, luckily, it’s very difficult to dissuade me from doing something. It took us years of failure and getting it wrong to finally solve the problem.
We were doing this side by side with college, and college itself was very draining. So, I remember barely getting any sleep.
Today the system is very different. College is more relaxed for a lot of people, attendance restrictions in the best colleges are going down, and youngsters are taken more seriously!
How did you and your friends/co-founders manage to balance work and studies?
We barely did and definitely don’t recommend anyone to run a funded startup while in college. We used to cram slide decks before exams, and since my investors were in the US, we’d spend our nights on calls.
In retrospect, I wish I’d waited a while before raising money and just enjoyed my college days.
Tell us something about the JobSpire acquisition.
We were courting multiple companies for an acquisition. The thing that people don’t realise about selling a tech company is that many times months of conversations can fizzle out instantly and as a founder you’ve wasted months of precious time. The first thing that happens is a fair valuation of the company being sold, and then a signing of the termsheet.
We had two termsheets in hand - one from a Mumbai-based company and one from a New York-based company. To be honest, I wasn’t sure which one would be better for us, but I ended up going with the NY one because the deal value was slightly better.
The vision behind starting Avalon Meta.
We started Avalon as a community of smart people in India. Over time, we realised that many of them had high potential but needed two things - 1) Exceptional educational content to upskill and 2) Educational communities based on their interests for continuous learning.
With Avalon Meta we solved (1) and with Avalon Voices we are solving (2).
Avalon Voices is a platform that helps people find smart and fun communities to be a part of and have conversations inside. It’s like Discord (the platform we originally ran our community on), but a lot more simple because people consistently have problems with the Discord UI.
So, now you can join a Design or Coding community and make new friends while at it!
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who are still in college?
I think the best thing I can say is to skill up. The world has ample opportunities for those who are skilled. There’s no reason to start a full company because that’s a bit stressful in college.
Skill up, have fun and make money to know what you do and do not like.
You’re a published author who’s now trying to reach out to more audience through social media, how difficult has your journey as a content creator been?
It’s actually been seamless from the offline to the online world. In the offline world, the book was in all bookstores across the country, but if I want to add some more points or answer questions, I’d have to write a follow-up book!
In the online world, I can do those things without having to spend 3 months writing, publishing and distributing.
The internet is truly a powerful distribution platform and it would be a shame if I did not use it to distribute instead of the traditional way.
The focus now will be to continue building a simpler version of Discord. Unifying educational communities in India is right up my alley and that’s what I’ll be focused on for a long while.