CEO and Managing Director at Compark E-Services Pvt. Ltd, Vikas Gupta was in Pune recently to attend the sixth edition of Proto.in, an event showcasing the top fifteen Start up businesses in the country. TestMerit.com, their online assessment centre had been nominated as one of the top ventures of the event. A graduate from IIM(A), Vikas has worked previously as an Assistant Professor at institute of Management Technology. He has also worked as Manager at ICICI bank. Viewspaper caught up with him for a quick Q&A session.
VP: Could you tell us a little more about TestMerit?
Vikas: It has started in June, 2008. Basically testmerit.com is an online entrance test preparation for various test examinations including those of management, engineering, medical etc in India. The user interface of online tests is such that the user does not need to have a constant internet connection. This makes the product more viable for lakhs of aspirants in the semi urban and rural areas. Testmerit.com is a test engine which is aimed to make online preparation simpler for students.
VP: What is your target market sector? Who are your major competitors in the business?
Vikas: Our basic target market is segmented into two groups of students. The first group comprises of those students who don’t have access to good coaching. These students are basically from the semi urban or rural sectors where an infrastructure-heavy model of branded coaching is not a possibility. The second group we are looking towards is the price conscious group which opts for a sub standard test preparation due to the price of traditional coaching. Targeting these two groups ensures an expansion in the students base appearing for entrance tests. Our major competition is from traditional coaching classes and B2C websites.
VP: What is the USP of this site?
Vikas: Since most of the entrance tests will be going online soon, online preparation will become a preferred mode of preparation. Also, the convenience of attempting mock tests and comparing oneself with the competition at affordable prices is made available to students at testmerit.com. It also addresses the problem of lack of wider peer feedback.
VP: Has the recession affected your business?
Vikas: We do not have a capital base. As a company we believe in maintaining a relationship with each of our clients. This website is not a business for us. We are trying to revive the user interface culture. Thus the recession does not stand to affect us in any manner. Though our fee for the preparation courses is extremely low we believe in having a quality enhancement project. Thus we are achieving our main focus and we manage the costs accordingly.
VP: Why Proto.in and what are your expectations from the event?
Vikas: We had heard about Proto from some friends and had sent in an entry just like that. We had not even imagined that we would actually get shortlisted for the final event. We have come here with the intention of displaying our product at this wonderful platform that has been provided to us. We would also like to disseminate our knowledge of the business model that we follow. We also would like to gain vision of the people present here in order to attract technology partners, potential investors and channel associates.
VP: Any advice to other start up entrepreneurs present here today?
Vikas: I would just like to tell them that start up ventures are not just business ventures. They are dreams which have been with us for a long time and they deserve to be properly executed. Have faith in yourself and success will find you wherever you are.
[Image courtesy: http://testmerit.com/images/TestMerit.jpg]