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Interview with Minal Anand, Founder of GuruQ

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Ms. Minal Anand, Founder & CEO, GURUQ

GuruQ is a digital integrated platform connecting tutors and students. Founded by Minal Anand, an enterprising Finance major from Boston University, GuruQ aims to address the need for a single, simplified &cohesive ed-tech platform that provides online and offline tutoring.

According to GuruQ, the platform has been designed based on insights drawn from comprehensive consumer research to address the need-gap for quality tutors. It has been set up with a dual objective – it helps parents and students identify and connect with the best tutors the industry has to offer. Secondly, the platform addresses the challenges faced by the tutors and offers a robust, convenient system to simplify the tuition industry.

Students and parents have access to ‘GuruQCertified’ tutors for primary, secondary, higher secondary and undergraduate curriculums. GuruQ also helps them manage timetables and assess progress. For tutors GuruQ works as a digital integrated platform where they can be recognized for their quality of work and result oriented approach, reach and teach more students, manage time efficiently and be assured of timely payments.

guruq team

GuruQ Team

To know more about GuruQ, we interviewed the founder of GuruQ, Minal Anand.

What is the USP of GuruQ given that there are many Startups already disrupting the education ecosystem in India, especially tutoring sector? 

With the main aim to help students find their right tutors, GuruQ offers many features to support the cause. Firstly, to ensure that our students get the very best, every tutor is made to undergo 5-level checks spanning their knowledge, qualifications, background & experience, and only the best are inducted into the GuruQ fold. Students are allowed different ways to reach out to these tutors as mentioned above. Students today are pressed for time and we help them save this precious commodity by taking tuition completely at their convenience. They can do actual on-demand tutoring by booking classes at short notice and even booking them by the hour for special needs such as revision. In addition to time, students can personalize their tuition with respect to the mode (offline or online), type (individual or group) and budgets (hourly or monthly). Parents can keep track of their child’s progress and seek feedback when they want to.We stand out from the pack because it is India’s first platform where one can pick quality-certified and user-rated tutors.

How does GuruQ differentiates itself from its Key Competitors?

We have entered a market where there are many established players so we understand the need to stand apart. We have made sure our differentiation is not just in the solution we provide but also the way we approach the problem. Our market research even before we began the journey from concept to commercialization revealed the many pain points that our target audiences face and we have planned 101 ways in which will not just eliminate their issues but also make learning easy, efficient and effective for them. We are starting with 21 features, advantages and benefits that we will provide and release the others in a phase-wise manner.

What about demonstrating your venture to Startup enthusiasts?Have you displayed your products in any entrepreneur summit? If yes, how was the response?

 Yes, as a matter of fact GuruQ just attended the Ed-tech Review Summit held in Dwarka. The event focused on B2B players in the edtech field. GuruQ received great traction from various other players in this area – education consusltants, investors, along with various intriguing collaboration opportunities for complimentary services and offerings. The overall response to GuruQ was overwhelmingly positive. 

What were the initial challenges that you faced as an entrepreneur? 

The journey so far has been one of exploration and experimentation. This is best exemplified by the fact that just 5 months into operations and we have already began revamping our entire digital infrastructure including the website and dashboard.  While the challenges have been across various areas such as the processes, technology, design etc. but we have overcome them all keeping only one thing in focus – the ‘Experience’ we are able to provide by integrating the various ingredients of our operations.

It has been only 5 months since its inception and GuruQ has got over 15000 tutor registrations and has certified over 1500 tutors on its platform. We just completed 100 hours of tutoring and the best is yet to come after the launch of the GuruQ Platform 2.0. Our focus is on Delhi NCR for the 1st year but we intend to eventually cater to all major cities through a phase-wise expansion. But we have begun online tuition Pan India since the medium transcends all boundaries.

GuruQ has already empanelled academicians from reputed institutes as its Advisory Board members who will also help mentor tutors.

The company recently raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from High Net Worth Individuals HNIs and has started operations in Delhi-NCR with robust plans to expand in other cities as well.

More about the Founder

MinalAnand is a young millennial entrepreneur and the founder of her first venture, GuruQ, a digital integrated platform that connects tutors and students with ease. As Founder and Chief Executive Officer, she is the innovator at GuruQ, an ed-tech platform that promises to bring high quality standards and new age methodologies to the way education is delivered in India.

Armed with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the School of Management at Boston University, Minal worked on several eclectic projects at companies like Franklin Templeton, Citigroup and HPL Additives to gain relevant experience on business planning, pitching for funding, enterprise design and structuring and talent management.

Shecompleted her degree at Boston University in three years instead of the designated four with a sparkling alacrity to join the professional world where she could apply theories to real life situations. She returned to India to joinDelhi-based HPL Additives as Assistant Manager – Corporate Development.However, the urge to do something in the field of education drove Minal to explore the ed-tech sector – one of India’s most prolific segments. She had previously taught several under privileged school students and it is this very experience that helped her with the business idea.

While studying in the US, Minal had seen a dramatic difference in the education system, its quality, the predominant use of digital platforms and innovative teaching methodologies. Back home, Minal noticed a huge disconnect between children who studied abroad and those who hadn’t.  She realized thatsuch disparity stemmed from the fact thatmost educators in India are not well-equipped or wellversed in innovative teaching methods compared to their counterparts overseas. This raises the question of the quality of educators in India and how the talented ones received their due.

Minal sees the importance of equipping tutors with the latest teaching methodologies and keeping them updated with international and national innovations. Her quest for doing something innovative made her delve deeper, understand the challenges and create a platform that would revolutionise the education system.

Hence, she conceptualized GuruQ as a single, simplified & cohesive ed-tech platform that provides online and offline tutoring and designed it based on insights drawn from comprehensive consumer research to address the need-gap for quality tutors.

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Interview

Dani Thompson is Making Noise in the Music Industry to Empower Independent Artists and Aspiring Entrepreneurs

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Dani Thompson is the founder of DNT Entertainment. DNT Entertainment is a boutique artist management, artist development, music marketing, and PR agency. DNT Entertainment is a leader in artist development and has been empowering artists to succeed independently without compromising on their creative control.

Dani, Thank you for talking with us. The journey of an Entrepreneur is never an easy one. Kindly describe your journey as an Entrepreneur.

Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): My journey as an Entrepreneur has not been an easy one. Lots of research, time, tears, sacrifice, money, late nights, 3 phones, side hustles, full-time jobs to fund my passion, coffee, wine, and at least 2 diet cokes a day. To top it off I birthed 2 humans in the past 7 years while I was building my business, worked a side hustle as a Regional Sales Director for one of the largest financial processing companies in the health and fitness industry, and survived homeschooling and nannying my wild boys during a global pandemic. My journey has been a bit nuts to be quite honest. I thank god for getting me through it, and my family, friends, and clients for their encouragement and support. I honestly would not have been able to do it without them.

What were the initial challenges that you faced in your endeavor as the music industry has a lot of competition?

Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I have always been one to learn everything in life the hard way. This applies not only to my personal life, but also my business journey. It is those hard lessons that have given me the knowledge to lead others, and therefore I know they were a difficult but necessary part of my journey as an entrepreneur. I faced many challenges and still do to this day.

I would say the biggest ongoing challenge has been finding a work/life balance. Knowing when to clock out and turn off my devices so I can live in the moment. Regarding the music industry and the competition there, to be honest I look ahead and not around me and I know there is only one of me. Sure there are amazing people in the industry that I look up to, but I don’t see them as competition. I feel like we are stronger together and collaboration is key to success in this industry. I’m not in a race to win anything. I have a long way to go before I will have reached what I feel would be the ultimate level of success in my career. I know that surrounding myself with people that have accomplished what I hope to someday in my life are not my competitors, but are mentors and are people I can learn from and grow with. The moment you look at your peers as your competition, you will fail. Instead you need to align and focus on finding partners that you can offer a mutual benefit to. We are stronger together. 

How and when did you come up with the idea of DNT Entertainment?

Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): After graduating college I was asked by a family friend to manage and run a publicity campaign for an artist named Macy Kate. Her family sought my guidance because I had personal experience as an artist from my high school and college years, and had a degree in journalism and the ability to write. I also built an amazing network of creatives and music business professionals, worked with local studios, and had experience in photography, video, and live show production.

My resume and network landed me that first management client and I knew I needed a way to track income and expenses, draft invoices, have a professional public web presence, and all the other things that come with representing talent in the industry. I came up with the name DNT Entertainment which is my initials “Dani Nichole Thompson,” and the rest is history. 

Business-wise, 2021 and 2022 had their own challenges. How exciting the future of business looks for you in 2023?

Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I am very excited for 2023. I feel like our industry is slowly but surely recovering from the Covid 19 pandemic that set us all back the past few years. Live music is finally coming back, event mandates are being lifted, interviews are resuming in person, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. This gives me great hope for our continued growth in 2023. I am also very excited to be working with our growing roster of amazing artists and the all-female creative and development team at DNT that have brought their talents to the table and have made a significant impact on the success of our clients. I’m also very excited for our continued partnership with Thomas Barsoe and OC Hit and their amazing new recording studio location in Orange County, CA.  

Do you believe that music companies have been traditionally exploiting artists?

Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I feel like the label system has a lot to offer artists in terms of marketing, publicity, tour support, team support, global distribution, credibility and radio promotion. I wouldn’t necessarily say artists are exploited, because labels are essentially investors and are taking on such a great risk when they sign talent. If a label or publishing company offers an artist/writer a signing bonus, at some point they need to be able to recoup their investment. That’s the way it works. You get nothing for nothing. To say that the recoupment of investment is “exploitation” would be wrong.

I feel artists need to do their due diligence and research before diving head first into the first label deal they are presented with, and make sure it is the best next step for them. A label deal is not the answer for everyone, especially not artists that want to retain creative control over their projects and ownership of their music. When signing a label deal many times artists are voluntarily signing away that creative control, their catalogs, and their image and brand in exchange for promotion to help them connect with a larger audience and get their music out on a larger platform. Lack of financial investment at an independent level is why artists sign major label deals. They need the money to continue creating music, marketing, promotion, video production, travel, radio, and all the other things that are almost impossible for independent talent to self-fund. Therefore they sign a big part of their lives away knowing that they will be exploited. Why else would a label sign them? They sign them not to help them, but to make money off them. It’s a business. 

There are very clear contracts laid out and I feel like it is the duty of the artist to consult with a legal team and mentor before they rush into deals that they will later regret. Labels take a lot of risks when they sign an artist and invest in them financially with no guarantee of return. This is why you see the label deals these days only going to established artists or artists who have cultivated a following on their own. That presents a lesser risk to the label. Create your package, build your following, tie a pretty bow on it, and then present it to a label. At that point, you actually may be in a position to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal and not one where you will feel used and taken advantage of. The best first step is artist development and that’s what we do at DNT Entertainment.  

Doing business is all about solving problems. It is equally important to help others in business and in your case, you want artists to remain independent. What are your views on this?

Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I’m not going to say that every artist needs to remain independent. By all means, if they do not have the financial backing to continue the pursuit of their dreams of being an artist, and as long as they know the risks and benefits of signing a label or investment deal, they can make that decision and I will support whatever they feel is the right thing for their career. Every artist has different goals and based on those goals my job is to help build a strategy that will help them get there.

Are there any last thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): In the world of entertainment and entrepreneurship, there is no guarantee that you will be successful, but I have learned that the more you put into anything you do in life the more you will get out. You can’t fail if you set realistic goals and if you have the motivation and drive to succeed. Work for love and not money. The money will follow if you are passionate about the work you do. Stay focused and grind it out. Have faith and trust in God and his plan for your life. Don’t look back. Don’t look around. Stop caring what everyone else thinks. Nobody will work harder for you than you, so start there and everyone else will get on the train. 

Where to find Dani Thompson

Website: https://www.danithompsonmusic.com/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danithompsonmusic/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danithompsonmusic/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/danithompsonmusic

DNT Entertainment 

Website: https://dnt-entertainment.com/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dntentertainment/

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Interview

An Interview with Jennifer Miree Cope

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Described as thorough and organized by her closest associates, Jennifer Miree Cope graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1985 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Jennifer has a deep-seated passion for several non-profit organizations. Especially with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which has treated several of her close friends and family members.

Jennifer Miree Cope’s respect for the generosity of nonprofits inspired her to become a volunteer. Currently, she is involved with several charities started by Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama: STAIR tutoring, the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, and Holiday House. 

Jennifer’s husband, Pat Cope, is the founder of Cope Private Wealth — a prestigious financial planning firm. When not relaxing with her husband and two sons in Mountain Brook, Jennifer can often be found exercising, walking her dog, or hiking in the mountains of North Carolina.

Jennifer, thank you for doing this. Tell me about your best and worst days at work. 

My worst days are the days when we’re busy. You know those days when customers are calling, texting, emailing from early in the morning to late at night. (I can’t help it that it rained that day.) But one of my best days was when we had three very happy clients, two of whom brought me wine!

What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?

Landscaping an empty or nearly empty lot.  It’s just like an artist starting with a blank canvas.

What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?

My biggest eureka moment was when I realized that technical drawings such as landscape plans can often be just as pretty as art.

What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

That’s a simple answer. It would have to be time management. There’s simply no way to succeed without it. And I start managing my time well from the beginning – it really starts the minute I wake up in the morning.

What risks is your company facing? 

With the economy doing poorly and inflation on the rise, people can always stop landscaping. That’s really the biggest issue here. It is unfortunately a luxury and not a necessity.

What would you do with unlimited resources?

That’s a tough one! I mean, to be honest, there are a lot of things that I would do with unlimited money, and I imagine that’s the same for everyone else too.

But there is one thing that I would prioritize if I had unlimited money: First, I would try to use it to find a cure for cancer. Both of my sisters, my mom, my aunt, and my husband all had cancer. My two sisters died from it. It’s a nasty disease and we need to dedicate more of our resources to fighting against it.

When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

I would have to say it was the last time I made a needlepoint belt for one of my sons. It can be very easy to find yourself in the zone when you’re engaged in that.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

Yeah, well for exercise, you can usually find me playing golf, doing pilates, or yoga. I often enjoy going out to eat or attending sporting events and musical theater. And I can’t forget that one of my favorite things to do is travel — mostly to our place in the North Carolina mountains.

How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

For me, the number one way to make a difference is tutoring the underprivileged. I have done a lot with STAIR, and I am very proud of that work.

 

 

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Interview

In this interview, Raquel Ureña talks about the second season of ‘NY Never Sleeps’

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Raquel Ureña is a filmmaker and the Founder of NYC Latin Media. She has produced over 8 films. To know more about Raquel Ureña, please read our interview with her.

Raquel, It’s a pleasure talking with you again. Much awaited “NY Never Sleeps” will be rolling out its second season pretty soon. How excited are you about this?

I am really excited. Especially because the participants of this second season are super successful women who are truly inspiring. They are great role models.

Would you like to give a sneak peek into the second season for our audience?

These women of Dominican descent all have successful businesses and they all started with nothing, showing us that if you work hard and remain focused, anything is possible. They are all immigrants and today, have many luxuries due to their hard work. Besides seeing the lifestyles of these women, we will also be seeing a lot of fashionable and trendy, and exclusive places in New York.

When will you start filming?

We will start filming in May and have many plans and exclusive events that we will be attending. We will be showing exclusive restaurants and places that people need to see in NY.

On which platforms, will the second season be available? Also, how many episodes will be there in the second season

There are 13 episodes in the second season and it will be airing on Digital 15 and Telemicro Internacional which is the biggest TV platform in the Dominican Republic. Telemicro Internacional is seen in the US through Comcast cable. The show will be airing towards the end of September. We will be filming all summer.

What are your views on the current status of women in entrepreneurship? especially in the Latina community?

New York is a difficult place to live in and very expensive but these women have proven that even with a humble beginning and hard work, it is possible to get ahead in life.

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