36th anniversary: business tycoon
Alakh Pandey, 30 years
Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh
company : Physicist
Total assets: Rs 4,000 crore
In 2020, Alakh’s partner Prateek Maheshwari designed the app for the first time for ‘Physicswala’ and about 60,000 children enrolled for the first online course on it
Year 2014. Alakh Pandey, an engineering student coming from a low-income family of Allahabad, left his college studies midway and returned home. When the father asked the reason, he told that he was not enjoying it. Father got very angry. Actually he had faced big problems in life. He didn’t want the same thing to happen to his son.
Let’s start with the introduction of Alakh. Today one of his introduction can be that he is the founder of ‘Physicswala’, a unicorn company of Edtech. In an introduction, it can also be said that at present 21 of his offline coaching centers are running in the country.
But his most current introduction will probably be that such a young man who came out of poverty from Kalindipuram area of Prayagraj, who in a short time achieved that position with his hard work and skill, which comes in the share of only a few people.
Alakh’s childhood was spent in severe financial crisis. His father used to be a construction contractor, but he was constantly incurring losses in the business. When Alakh was in third class, half of the house in Prayagraj’s South Malaka area was sold.
By the time he reached the sixth grade, his entire house was sold. Recalling that period, Alakh says, “Our economic condition was so bad that while studying in eighth grade, I was teaching tuition to children up to fifth grade. My mother was a teacher in a private school. Sister was also teaching tuition. In this way, all of us were doing something or the other to run the expenses of the house.
After 12th, Alakh gave the pre-engineering exam of Uttar Pradesh after studying at home. His rank in this was around 600. He got admission in the mechanical branch of ‘Harcourt Butler Technical Institute’ of Kanpur, one of the best government colleges in the state. In the second year of college, he started teaching in a coaching institute in Kanpur itself.
The past days in Kanpur were full of struggle and farce. Alakh lived in an 8 by 8 room with one of his companions. The college fees were covered from the education loan, but it was becoming difficult to manage the expenses of the house as well as myself. He decided to drop out of college. Even today he calls himself ‘Fifty Percent Mechanical Engineer’.
After coming to Prayagraj, he taught children in coaching for some time. Alakh’s way of teaching was different. He used to do theater since school days. He used it to make physics interesting. The children started liking his method. The crowd in his batch also started increasing. Alakh now started thinking more seriously as to how he could reach out to more students. The answer was YouTube.
In the year 2015, Alakh created his own channel on YouTube. Named ‘Physicswala Alakh’. A Facebook page was also created with the same name. Initially, Alakh started posting science memes and quizzes from his page. In 2016, Alakh started shooting videos for YouTube. But there was no significant success there.
Two things happened in 2017. First coming of cheap 4G service in India. Second Alakh’s strategy change. Alakh himself studied from the ICSE board. He knew very well that the children studying in this board come from affluent class and there was no special study material available for them on the internet.
Alakh started targeting these students. Soon they started seeing its good results. In 2018, Alakh got his first check of Rs 8,000 from YouTube. At this time there were about 50,000 subscribers on his channel. He decided to leave the coaching job.
Till 2020, Alakh kept taking free classes on YouTube. The only source of his earning was the money from YouTube. But Corona, which came in March 2020, opened the door to new possibilities for EdTech. Alakh finds a new partner this time, Prateek Maheshwari.
He designed the app for ‘Physicswala’ for the first time. By this time many other online learning platforms had come. Unlike its competitors, Alakh offered courses for just Rs 2-3 thousand per subject. More than 60,000 students enrolled in their first online batch. After this Alakh did not look back.
The story of Alakh is the story of the struggle of a young man who came out of the weak economic environment of a small town. Alakh’s story is the success story of fast emerging Edtech in India. At present, they are preparing to launch new channels in Indian languages other than Hindi and English.