2019 has been a gratifying, exciting and fast-paced year for us at Harappa Education. It’s the year we revealed ourselves to the world, the year we began to really exist. We went live on April 15, 2019. From May onwards, we launched our courses and reached out to customers and learners. We stepped out of the safe space of being a stealth-mode idea – the creative but intensely internalized zone we occupied through 2018 –  and opened ourselves up to scrutiny, targets and the first rush of early adopter feedback. 

I am not sure if any year in the next decade is likely to match up to 2019 for me. Five highlights especially stand out.

  1. We launched 14 Courses, across our 5 Harappa Habits of THINK, SOLVE, COMMUNICATE, COLLABORATE and LEAD. We worked with 50+ faculty superstars, created more than 1,000 questions, produced 500 videos and designed over 1,000 assets and graphics.
  2. We gained 12 partners. Our go-to-market plan is to work with colleges, universities and enterprises, across industry and size. We make their students and employees our learners. Within our first six months, we are working with a Top 10 Engineering Campus, a Top 10 MBA Institution, and some of India’s best-known conglomerates.  
  3. We acquired 1,500 learners. They have taught us everything we need to know. Our learners are our teachers. Without them, and their valuable feedback, our mission will remain unrealized.
  4. We grew to 54 people! Together, they make what is undoubtedly one of the most interesting start-up teams in India, across diverse experiences in academic research, digital business, design, applied psychology, engineering and editorial content. This is a claim I make with confidence, and without humility.
  5. We lived our 6 Values. People say it’s tough to build a culture and, of course, it is, as you bring new people on board and try to amplify it. But, the one thing that has been easy to do –  even on the most nerve-wracking, stressful days –  is staying true to our core theme of being a place where people are pushed to do their best work, meet friends for life and feel part of something that is larger than their own professional ambitions. 

Personally, I learned some fundamental lessons that changed me significantly.

  1. I learned the true power of partnership. I’ve had great “who” luck, as management guru Jim Collins calls it, especially when it comes to Pramath, my co-founder at Harappa. We argue, disagree and push each other, all of which is very easy to do when your purpose is shared, and you are having fun!  
  2. I learned the true power of vulnerability. When the stakes are high, solutions ambiguous and time in short supply, honesty, forthrightness and humility are must-haves. You don’t –  no, you can’t –  hide or posture because you just don’t have the time and energy for it. You share and confess; you confide and unload. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
  3. I learned the true power of passion and optimism. They are living, breathing entities. People can tangibly feel it when you are truly passionate. They want some of it. They want to support you, join your fight and respect your struggles. Similarly, nothing is perfect. But, I know now, more than ever before, that without believing that your tomorrow will be better, your today will go to waste. 
  4. I learned the true power of gratitude. Even as I was having an exciting and dynamic year at work, some of my closest friends went through hell and back this year. One lost a loved family member, another battled a life-threatening disease, and the third survived a traumatic accident that showed us all that our plans can go up in smoke in seconds. 
  5. I learned the true power of self-belief. As a non-tech, non-MBA founder, building something as ambitious and complex as Harappa from the ground-up means that impostor syndrome and self-doubt are enthusiastic friends. In travelling through 2019 though, I learned to trust myself more: to trust my instincts, decisions and judgment. This saved me some valuable thinking time!

Shreyasi Singh is the Founder & CEO of Harappa Education. She is committed to building and shaping initiatives that address India's massive education challenges, at scale.

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