MyCaptain is a platform for students who wish to explore alternate careers such as comedy, writing, filmmaking, music production, entrepreneurship, digital marketing, photography, graphic design, and more. They offer over 35 different courses in varying fields that are taught live by mentors or ‘captains’ who are young professionals in that area.
How it all started
MyCaptain began in 2013 when Zeeshan (CEO) and his friends — students themselves at that time — realised that they had all been forced into engineering, when they had other interests. “I wanted to be an astronomer, one friend wanted to be a writer/journalist, another an economist,” recalls Zeeshan. They soon discovered that most of their college mates felt the same way. They also noticed that this was a problem that students across the country faced and that those who wanted to do something apart from engineering, medicine or law did not know where to go or how to do it. Many struggled to find guidance and were unable to find a platform that would help them grow and acquire the required skills. So the group of 19 year olds decided to try to make a difference.
Type of Start-up : EdTech
Founded Year : 2016
Location : Bangalore, Karnataka
Company Stage : Funding Raised
Total Employees : 230
Founders : Zeeshan Mohammed, Ruhan Naqash, Sameer Ramesh, Fatema Hussain
Website : https://www.mycaptain.in/
Business Model of My Captain
Mycaptain has been generating revenue and is profitable right from the first day. Students pay them 1,000 rupees for a month-long workshop. Mentors get a part of this amount, and the company get the rest.
Rest of compensation for mentors happen by helping them get mentors for their research or work. They are also given LORs, and the startup even help them get funds for their research or startup.
An example of one such event is the ‘Indian Youth Conclave‘ which consists of sessions that help students in gaining useful insights into their field of interest. The event spans over a couple of days and covers topics from various domains.
Mission – “At MyCaptain, we are passionate about many different things. In our heart of hearts, believe that there’s a change coming, one that’s long overdue, in the way that India chooses careers. We are here to help bring about that change.”
MyCaptain works with about 250 mentors, most of whom are from organisations such as Apple, Google, Commune, Platform for Artists and others. “Apart from regular referrals or applicants, they have partnered with organisations where people can either sign up to be mentors or have courses ratified with them. “We sit with their experts and design a suitable curriculum, ensuring students get a first-hand experience on what to expect from those industries,” said Zeeshan. Mentors are selected on the basis of their achievements and passion for education. A new mentor shadows existing mentors to get a hang of the process. Lessons are also conducted from remote locations that are suitable to the mentors.
Challenges faced by the company.
One major challenge was faced when the founders went bankrupt and were in heavy debt before starting Mycaptain as their magazine didn’t take off.
At the end of 2014, they had subscribers for their magazine but did not have the resources to cater to them. They were liable to print 12 more issues of the magazine, but the founders didn’t have the funds to do so and were in debt of around 2.5L.
The idea of Mycaptain was born during this phase. The revenue from the first few months of starting the company helped them clear the debt.
Another challenge Mycaptain faced in the very initial days (5 years ago) was acquiring mentors when their credibility was low. This was overcome at the time, after the IIM Bangalore incubation, that the founders got right after college. They also used a strong network effect of vetting and referral from their then mentor pool. Right now MyCaptain has a pool of 250+ mentors.
Like most e-learning platforms, MyCaptain has witnessed a surge in new users amid the pandemic, with enrolments more than doubling in the initial few months. “COVID began closer to the summer when most people were looking for new interests to focus on. This boosted our growth. However, post-July, we noticed that this began to flatline. Naturally, this meant that COVID alone cannot bring in the users and we would have to use this opportunity to build from here,” Zeeshan adds. They hope to be able to add at least 90 courses in the year ahead and to shift from beginner courses to more advanced three- to six-month programmes that will not only facilitate internships but also placements for jobs. They have begun tying up with organisations from various sectors such as The Minimalist, Filter Copy and others to run the courses enabling them to partner directly with industries.
Zeeshan also points to the slowly decreasing number of students who are writing competitive exams over the past years. “There has been a large shift in the way students are looking at their careers today. Because of the readily available content seen through different forms of media, people have started to realise that there are opportunities in more creative fields as well. One of the most popular courses we offer is the psychology one, followed by writing. This shows that, although we offer business and technology courses, students come to MyCaptain to explore the more offbeat courses.”