Deepika Singh from Alore spoke to Mridula Chhetri, co-founder and CEO of InMovidu
Alore: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your professional journey so far?
Mridula Chhetri: I’m Mridula and hail from a military background. Thanks to this upbringing, making friends quickly, networking, adapting to situations and being resilient comes in as second nature.
I have more than 12 years of experience of working in enterprises such as IBM and startups such as NestAway and Saraplast. With this wide array of business exposure, I find it an asset to understand business at various growth stages. Prior to moving on to found Inmovidu, I was heading business development at NestAway.
Alore: What is Inmovidu and what’s unique about it?
Mridula Chhetri: InMoVidu stands for Internet Mobile Virtual Education. We are a technology based managed marketplace which offers interactive learning solutions for both students and instructors.
We aim to bring an immersive learning experience and offer a hybrid solution by collaborating on offline and online channels.
We look at situations holistically and connect the dots. Our endeavour is to remove barriers like non-availability of quality teachers, distances and apprehension about tutor- quality out of the equation.
The Inmovidu team offers a cumulative experience of more than 100 plus years across sectors and Industries. Our sessions can be conducted Online or Onsite. All our online classes are live and two-way interactive. We are currently focusing on building a safe haven for women.
Alore: How did you envision Inmovidu?
Mridula Chhetri: This was a personal pain point for me when 6 years back my daughter was unable to learn ballet classes in a city like Bangalore due to unavailability of a teacher close by. I enrolled her for Kathak classes but despite that my problems were not solved. I still had to travel, wasn’t sure what my daughter was learning, and we could never take holidays on the weekends because she always had classes. When I spoke with parents like we who were waiting outside the class, I realised that they were also experiencing the same problem. It was something that always stayed with me and I figured is someone had to do something, then why not me. That’s how the concept of InMovidu was born.
Over time, I found like-minded colleagues and we together move on to found InMovidu in 2016.
Alore: Can you tell us some more about what you’re doing with the women’s safety classes?
Mridula Chhetri: I If women in every country were to play an identical role to men in markets, as much as US$12 trillion would be added to the global economy by 2025. (McKinsey Global Institute, 2017)
Also, at micro economic level, it is regularly proven that gender diversity in management correlates with better organizational effectiveness and higher financial results. Women represent more than 50% of the world population but contribute only to 37% of world GDP and 39% of the Global Labour Force.
Of the four identified categories that deter women from working, physical security and autonomy is one of the key reasons.
|Work||Essential Services and Enablers of Economic Opportunity||Legal Protection and Political Voice||Physical Security & Autonomy|
In addition, lack of safe and secure transport reduces economic opportunities, reinforcing poverty and increasing inequality and social exclusion.
Training women and men on self-defence is an absolute need of the hour not just in developing countries but developed countries as well. We want to bridge the gap for lack of access to self-defence techniques and ignorance of rights.
The ultimate dream is to help every individual learn these lifesaving skills which they were unable to due to unavailability of trainers, lack of time, fear, travel etc.
We knew we were on the right path when we signed our first client with a product which was just a concept stage – training 200 women of a salon chain in Bangalore. It was extremely satisfying to see the women confident about themselves by the end of the course.
Alore: Inmovidu provides a much-needed solution to people who are seeking opportunities to work from home or learn from the comfort of home. How do you ensure you’re meeting the right set of trainers and assess them for quality?
Mridula Chhetri: For any of our programs the trainer usually comes with 12+ years of experience in the relevant field and is screened by a panel of industry experts. Since we are also working on scaling, we have designed programs around standardisation of the training format for the facilitators to ensure seamless experience for the user.
Alore: Inmovidu is using technology as its foundation. Is one of the co-founders from a tech background or did you have to build this competency anew?
Mridula Chhetri: Yes, Inmovidu is using technology as its platform and our Chief Product Officer Seema oversees how we can leverage technology to take the product to a majority of people. We are also utilising data and technology to help us understand our users better. For now, we are engaging with our strategic partner for our learning management solution. However, the website and soon to be launched app will be managed in house by us.
Alore: What has been the biggest challenge in your journey with Inmovidu so far?
Mridula Chhetri: The biggest challenge was to find the right pain point that we needed to solve. While we started with addressing the issue of helping people pursue creative classes, we realised that the reason people were coming to us was because they felt safe taking these classes from home. 80% of the customers were women from tier 2/ 3 cities. This is when we realised how important it was to address the issue of personal safety and I’m glad we were able to identify it.
In retrospection, I figured that safety concerns were a major reason for me not allowing my daughter to go anywhere unattended. Safety concerns were what made me sit and wait outside her classes every single weekend.
Alore: What has been your biggest learning since you started Inmovidu?
Mridula Chhetri: Listen to your customers – always. I just cannot emphasise enough on this.
As startup founders we are so obsessed and in love with our idea that we refuse to listen to our customers and miss out on not just improving our idea but also identifying new opportunities. At the same time, one also needs to stay pragmatic on what the customers demand. Trade-offs are always yet important for your business.
Alore: What were your three key focus areas to achieve a good product market fit?
Mridula Chhetri: The three key focus areas would be:
- Knowing what our customers wanted
- Building a customised solution for each customer and leveraging technology and expertise of the facilitator
- Scaling while ensuring that we kept our op-ex and cap-ex low, yet everyone makes money
Alore: How did you decide the business model for Inmovidu?
Mridula Chhetri: We are essentially a bootstrapped company and raised very little angel funding to tide through the product development phase. While developing the product, we knew that C2C was not the path that we wanted to take due to the huge operational expenditures, time and effort involved. We eliminate going for the B2C model as well because it didn’t guarantee results.
Our intent is to train as many women as possible and B2B channel allows us to reach out to more number of customers with same efforts and with in short span of time.
Alore: What is your productivity mantra?
Mridula Chhetri: Prioritising and learning the art of trade-offs. I believe in bringing people with complementary skills on board both as team member and business partners.
I am learning the art of delegation which is very important as it helps you stay focused on your core competencies. I use project planning format a lot and have tasks assigned to relevant teams/ people to ensure that we stay on track and there is no miscommunication.
Every day when I wake up, I write down my to-do list and strike off the tasks I complete. End of day I update comments on the unfinished tasks along with dependencies.
About Mridula Chhetri:
Mridula is a result driven professional with 12+ years of experience in business strategy development, strategic marketing and project management. During her time at IBM, she handled roles in M&A, Business Controls and Compliance under global recruitment for regions. She was last heading Business Development for NestAway before she went on to co-found InMovidu. She is an alumna of Kanpur University and Haas School of Business UC Berkeley.
You can connect with Mridula here