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Interview with Minal Anand, Founder of GuruQ

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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

An Interview with Actor & Musician Carrel Lasso

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Carell Lasso is a Colombian actor and musician. He is well known for his role in La Esclava Blanca (The White Slave) which is available on Netflix. Carrel is also one of the actors of the new HBO show “One thousand fangs” or “Mil Colmillos” .

Carell, thank you for talking with us. To be a part of the first HBO series in your home country must have felt great. How was the experience like?

Thank you for having me. For me it was a wonderful experience, to be part of the first HBO Series produced in my home country.

I met very talented people. The shooting days were extensive and 70% of the filming was at night in difficult conditions due to the weather and the jungle, but at the end of the day, it was a blessing and a great pleasure to be part of this awesome crew .

Tell us more about your character Barakus.

My character is called Alfredo Barranco aka Barakus. He is a corporal in the army’s special forces, and embarks on a mission where unexpected things happen
By the way, I had to gain 10 kilos of weight to play this character and had to go through a difficult military training and extensive gym workouts.

You have been a part of several awesome projects. Which project is really close to you?

La Esclava Blanca (The White Slave) has been a project that meant a lot to me due to the conditions and the circumstances that I was going through in my life at that time. It was also the production with which I obtained international recognition for my work, since it was sold to more than 280 countries in the 5 continents and was dubbed in many languages. You can watch this awesome show on Netflix.

 What suggestion would you give to actors who are struggling to get their first break?

My suggestion is to prepare, to work hard and to have their minds focused on what they want no matter what others say.  People who are not capable, are always going to want you to be like them, so through criticism and ridicule they will  want to discourage you, but you must be patient and persistent and trust the talent and the desire that is in you. The best things come from heaven when you least expect them.

How are you helping young actors achieve their goals?

Since last year I have been collaborating with NYC Latin Media preparing their new talent for  productions.  Through live acting workshops and now via Zoom I serve as an acting coach, teaching different techniques and methodologies of acting and hoping to instill my passion for acting to the next generation of actors. 

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Interview

An Interview with Russell Jack, Southland-based Yogapreneur and Mindfulness Teacher

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Russell Herbert Jack is a yoga and mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand. He specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations, helping clients achieve harmony of body, mind, and soul. Russell is passionate about animal rights, regularly volunteering with the World Animal Protection Organization and donating to protect endangered species in New Zealand.

Russel, thank you for talking with us. Even the best of Mindfulness experts and life coaches have their own ups and downs. Tell me about your best days at work and also about days when you feel low.

Thank you for having me. You are right when you say that it doesn’t necessarily mean that people who are life coaches and who teach mindfulness are immune from their own life challenges. The thing is, they know how to deal with such situations better than most of the people out there.

For me, the best days are whenever I can be at the beach. I love teaching outdoors, and the days when I get to teach by the ocean are the best. There are so many distractions in our life that can bring us down, and being out in nature walking, running, doing yoga, or simply observing is so therapeutic. I also feel down sometimes. Those are the days when I get bad news. I am very close to my clients and I am an empathetic person, so I take their problems too close to my heart.

What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?

I enjoy teaching, reading, and writing. I recently started a blog to practice writing and share my thoughts with the world. My primary focus is teaching though. I teach yoga, mindfulness, and Qigong, and I love walking my clients through the processes and seeing their results improve.

What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?

Well, my biggest “a-ha” moment happened when I tried eating meat after a long break. My parents are vegan, so I was used to a meatless diet for the longest time. But during my late teenage years, you know, everyone rebels, and I decided to try a steak while I was away from home. I didn’t like it though.

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

Dropping out of college when I felt like pursuing teaching as my life calling. There are many societal and parental pressures nowadays. My parents really wanted me to go to school and get educated, but I chose to educate myself. It’s my path. If I didn’t leave college, I would probably just hang out with my friends now, instead of building my teaching business and helping people connect with themselves through yoga and mindfulness.

The ongoing Pandemic has impacted businesses in so many ways. What risks is your company facing?

Well, COVID-19 has impacted many businesses, but luckily for New Zealand, we didn’t get hit as hard as the rest of the world. I am still able to teach and continue my practice. But I know that there are many people around the world who have lost their jobs and companies who didn’t survive the pandemic and subsequent closures. My heart goes to those.

What would you do with unlimited resources?

I would invest them in protecting animals around the world. There are many people who are conscious of the harm we create in the animal world, but there is not enough funding to make a big difference, I believe.

Being a Yoga practitioner gives you the necessary skills to immerse yourself in whatever you do. Still, When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

I lose myself when I teach. I turn into a vessel of knowledge and try to help my students connect with themselves through my teaching.

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

I love traveling and being in nature, writing and learning, listening to music, and talking to my loved ones.

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

My impact is not as big as I would like it to be, but I still think that by volunteering, teaching, and leading by example, I do contribute to the betterment of the world.

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Interview

CEO of VEDOC Talks About the Initiatives taken by the company During the Ongoing Pandemic

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In a previous Interview with Times of Startups, Yoguef Sanchez-Jarquin, the founder of VEDOC talked about how VEDOC or Vehicle Doctor helps users connect with vetted vehicle service providers with a few screen taps. We recently caught up with Yoguef Sanchez to know more about where his company is heading owing to the unexpected situation we are witnessing because of Covid-19.

Yoguef, It’s great to have you back. Since we last talked, how has been the growth story of Vedoc so far?

Thank you for having me again. Vedoc has grown significantly in the past few months, We are starting to expand and introduce our platform in places such as New Jersey, Chicago, and Detroit. Our goal is to create awareness in major cities and gradually work our way into smaller towns.

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your organization and Vehicle service providers in general?

Thankfully the Automotive industry has not had any real setbacks overall. As an organization we have adapted well and we are continuing to grow as a team

Tell us more about your recent program in which your company will provide service attendants to gas stations in cities that have seen a massive surge in Covid-19 cases?

We have plans to roll out the program for the remainder of the year upon launching. We are currently seeking to onboard as many fuel stations in the most affected areas. Our goal is to reduce contact between people and provide additional income for locals who are struggling during this current crisis.

Social distancing is one of the tools which can help reduce the spread of Coronavirus. How can fuel stations and car service providers facilitate contactless service for their customers?

Vedoc app was developed with the idea of making the way you service your vehicle convenient which results in being able to contact service providers through the app, chat , schedule and pay and we are also now on-boarding mobile service providers which has become a trend in growing cities.

We genuinely believe that it will complement the concept of contactless service by maintaining people safe at at their homes. On the other hand, some gas stations can see up to 100 vehicles per day so imagine how the amount of germs are transmitted through people.

Through our recent initiative, our service attendants will reduce the risk by keeping you safe in your car while your vehicle is being fueled and providing safe paying methods.


At its core, Vedoc is known for connecting car users to service providers. However, several businesses have evolved in the last few months owing to the ongoing pandemic. Are their any significant changes in your organization in the recent past?

We have made minor modifications and improvements to our organization. However, the core operation has continued to run smoothly without significant setbacks. In that sense, we can consider ourselves fortunate. Overall, we believe this to be perfect timing to introduce a new, convenient and honest way to service your vehicle while contributing our 2 cents to the current crisis.

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