Rati Tehrilate entrant into the booming student coaching and tutoring industry, Rati Tehri has come a long way in a short time. Launched only a year ago (November 2006), her sardonically christened website www.totalgadha.com, offering 24/7 coaching and mentoring to B-school entrance exam aspirants, attracts 223,000 visitors per month. "Totalgadha.com has been ranked by Google as Indiaâ€™s #1 website in terms of hits per day and amazon.com confirms our claim of 223,000 eyeballs every month. And itâ€™s a measure of our credibility that Google advertises on our website because of the large number of students â€” 2,000 everyday â€” who visit from India and other countries including the US, Germany, Ireland, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Malaysia," says the Delhi-based Tehri.
A graduate of Delhi University with a BBA from Wigan and Leigh University (India), Tehri was "much less than a topper" at St. Maryâ€™s Academy in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, where she grew up. An attempt to enter an IIM came to naught when she didnâ€™t fare well in the CAT (Common Admission Test). But turning adversity to advantage, she together with a childhood friend Sanjeev Singh, hit upon the idea of developing a website to provide coaching, study material and other relevant information to students preparing for CAT and other B-school entrance exams.
Although she never counted herself among the academically successful, Tehri is a great believer in the virtues of hands-on education. She began her working career as a relationship officer in Kotak Commodities. This was followed by a ten-month stint in IMS Learning Resources (Pvt) Ltd, the well-known coaching institute.
Today she reckons that the user-friendly structure of her website is the secret of its success. The CAT exam learning content is divided into verbal and quantitative sections. The verbal (English) content is prepared by Tehri while her partner Singh prepares the quantitative (maths) section.
With hardly any mass media advertising, totalgadha.com has built its reputation by word-of-mouth publicity and Google ads which direct B-school aspirants to its website. Moreover totalgadha launched its first book â€” Totalgadhaâ€™s Number Systems Book â€” on October 12 for $8 (Rs.315). "Currently we offer coaching only for CAT and GMAT exams. We will soon diversify into online training for SAT, TOEFL, IELTS and school board exams. Our long-term plan is to start brick and mortar coaching schools," says Tehri.
A great believer in learning from her mistakes, within a record time of 12 months this failed IIM aspirant has turned defeat into a promising enterprise, whose best is yet to come.
Kalpana Misra (Delhi)
For Arvind Aradhya (18) the grand prize was worth the effort â€” grilling aptitude and skills tests and hours of closed-door studio shoots. On August 18 in a special one hour programme telecast on the pan-India news television channel NDTV 24/7, Aradhya was announced winner (together with four others) of the NDTV Scholarship Hunt, Destination UK contest â€” a first-of-its-kind reality TV talent hunt. On offer were full-ride (fully paid) scholarships to five UK universities. The Bangalore-based Aradhya won a full scholarship (valued at Â£80,000 â€” Rs.64 lakh) to the four-year engineering degree programme of Warwick University.
With ad spots inviting entries repeatedly telecast on the NDTV bouquet of four television channels, the talent hunt attracted 14,000 entries from study abroad aspirants countrywide. The first elimination round comprised an online test with multiple-choice questions which tested contestantsâ€™ general knowledge. The 400 students who made it into the next round were tested in an exam modelled on the IIT-JEE entrance exam. Of them 20 including Aradhya were shortlisted for the final round.
"A panel of university representatives grilled us on the academic field we had chosen. We were grouped into four teams according to our subject specialisation and were put through a quiz and hands-on activity. The quiz and the interviews were telecast on NDTV 24/7. When youâ€™re on national television, itâ€™s not enough to be knowledgeable about your subject; you also have to be confident and self-assured," says Aradhya who recently completed his Plus Two at the National Public School, Bangalore.
An active participant in quizzes conducted by the Karnataka Quiz Association and an avid reader of science fiction, Aradhya believes that "logical thinking and problem-solving abilities" helped him win this prized scholarship. "Iâ€™m an average student but what worked for me was that I always learn by understanding and experimentation," he says.
All set to emplane to Destination Warwick, this articulate teenager has set his sights on qualifying as an astronaut. "Warwick will be a completely new learning experience and hopefully will sharpen my logical and critical thinking skills. But my long-term goal is to become an astronaut," he says.
One canâ€™t aim higher than that!
Joshua Muyiwa (Bangalore)