Hailing from the Melkheda town of Mandsaur locale in Madhya Pradesh, Neha Mujawdiya became the first young lady from her town to finish her schooling. In any case, her aspiration, in any case, was not confined to seeking an advanced education.
The “small village girl” needed to be liberated from cultural dread and wanted to start her very own business sometime in the future. In any case, for women living in rural areas, pursuing a business venture is like a pipe dream that is only imagined and never realized.
Neha pursued advanced education while also building an effective edtech startup — TutorCabin — which is still an inspiration to some today.
It has nearly 1,000 teachers on the platform today and has expanded its online reach to Delhi, Agra, Mumbai, etc.
Breaking the cycle
Neha was determined to break the “typical cycle” of school, local college, and marriage that follows in almost every household in the village.
Owing to lack of resources and illiteracy, students, especially girls, were rarely allowed to pursue graduation, let alone higher education. After completing a BA (economics) from Vikram University in Ujjain, Neha wanted to move to Indore to pursue an MBA degree, and break the cycle.
“I was out rightly rejected by my parents to move to Indore. Education is not a priority in my village, especially for girls. Things are changing, but I struggled a lot during my time, “says Neha, who did not give up and somehow convinced her parents to let her have higher education in Indore.
Her parents had to face a lot of criticism from society for “sending a girl to the city alone and not being bothered about her marriage”.
In 2009, Neha moved to Indore and enrolled herself in an ACA course at a private institution after clearing the exam.
“I roamed around for days for admission. I was not eligible at a lot of institutions owing to my prior degree. The options were limited. After my ACA, I cracked the MBA entrance and joined Christian Eminent College, Indore, for further studies, “she says.
Big city life
While pursuing her master’s, Neha didn’t want to miss out on any opportunity to be in the city. She wanted to grab as much knowledge as possible and gain experience. However, it all boiled down to finances. To break away from her dependency and ease the burden on her parents, Neha started taking home tuitions for primary-level students.
“I took up as many classes as possible and saved a decent amount to cover my expenses and save. I used to leave the house early in the morning, attend MBA classes, take home-to-home tuition, manage the house work and study as well. Sometimes I worked more than 17 hours a day, “she says.
Neha had set her mind on a business idea but continued to take regular tuition for four years before taking the entrepreneurial plunge. She wanted to build her confidence, resources, and knowledge base before venturing out.
However, Neha was being pressured by her parents to come back to the village, as her masters were inching towards completion.
“I requested my parents to give me another year to stay in Indore. I wanted to create my own identity and not end up in a village where I had no growth. I was scared but never lost hope and somehow managed to convince my family, “says Neha.
Starting with TutorCabin
With a limited budget, Neha set up an office in 2018 at a co-work space, built a simple website, and started hiring, interviewing, and training tutors to create a single platform for tuition –TutorCabin.
The founder started with 10-15 tutors, who later went on to become a part of her core team. She already had a demand in place due to her reputation and hard work.
“Initially, we had around 150 tutors and 10-15 students from Indore and areas nearby. We provided classes from nursery level to college. “I was amazed by the demand for home tuition from Tutor Cabin,” says Neha.
The pandemic propelled the founder to move operations online. Despite having limited resources and knowledge of digital know-how, she learned from people around her and shifted the base.
Coming from a small town with limited exposure did not stop Neha from building a successful edtech venture. The platform was recognized among the top 60 startups by Kuberan’s House and is in final talks with investors to raise funding.
The 15-person startup made Rs 22 lakh in revenue in FY20-21 and hopes to enroll 2,50,000 students by the end of the year, with plans to expand its tutor base to 5,000.
Neha is a role model for many girls in her village and the areas around her. Visiting her native village, she remembers the hardships and taunts of people around for “letting a girl have the freedom of choice”.