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Of Gaps, Vernaculars & Skilling

When learning, language is a bridge rather than a boundary. Ringing truth to these words, the founders of GUVI(Grab Ur Vernacular Imprint) — Arun Prakash, Bala Murugan S P, and Sri Devi set out to make learning comfortable.

What today is an integrated EdTech platform in vernacular languages; happened to be a YouTube channel in Tamil, teaching the basics of programming in 2012. Lessons in vernacular, especially in the IT domain were a rarity then. Viewers flooded to subscribe! It reached a whooping one million hits and 5000+ subscribers in under two months.

And a thought was rewarded.

By 2014, Sri Devi had left her lucrative job in PayPal to be the first employee at GUVI. But what officially registered their initiative as a company, was a chance. It was after GUVI was offered to be the content partner for IITM’s QEEE initiative. Understanding its potential, IITM and CIIE.CO offered to incubate GUVI. These were the days when Sri Devi along with a group of interns, formulated the basics of the current platform; soon to be joined by the other two co-founders.

Courses in vernacular languages, mentorship from industry experts, and recruitment drives: this Chennai-based startup aspires to make learning frictionless — for budding developers and engineers from tier-2 and tier-3 colleges in India. Today, GUVI teaches technical skills in five different languages — Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, and Hindi. In the coming years, it seeks to expand its markets to UAE and Malaysia by introducing content in Arabic and Malay.

Experience taught them the need to hunt for the missing pieces. Lessons were prime, but sustained only with motivation. And the incentive to learn was found in jobs and their market. Thus, GUVI evolved to become an integrated learning platform for its consumers — one where they could learn, practice, and get recruited. Their assessment platform helps recruiters hire students based on their skills. Regardless of all their achievements so far, when asked to narrate that one moment that always leaves them smiling, they think of the beginnings.

It was the day their students got placed in PayPal for an annual salary of twenty-lakhs. Belonging to a tier-2 college, it wasn’t just a personal victory. But was the one for their families and communities.

Surely they have had rainy days too. Especially when the employees they trained and nurtured — left, with bigger players and better packages. But learning continued and the founders formed a process-driven company. Unexpected departures set a system in place that took care of itself, and what was left behind.

Plans to become the world’s leading EdTech platform to learn programming in native languages, are in progress. In words of Bala Murugan, ‘GUVI was born from the innate desire to provide technologists, from backgrounds similar to theirs an opportunity, with learnings in vernacular.’

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