The Jnaapti Journey – Helping Companies Succeed

Jnaapti has conducted training in over 30 companies in over 30 technologies in the last 6 years. We are the proud technology training partners to some of the best minds in the industry. Our training programs have been attended by employees of organizations like VMware, Akamai, Citrix, Ericsson, Practo, SAP Labs etc. We have trained people in organizations of varied sizes (startups, SMBs, MNCs) and with varied experience levels – freshers to people with over 20 years experience in the industry.

Our youngest student is 6 years old and our oldest student is a retired doctor who was building his own startup. Professionals that we have trained play various roles in organizations; we have trained software developers, architects, test engineers, system administrators, database administrators, Devops engineers, performance engineers, full-stack developers, sales people and engineering managers.

Our vision is to be able to teach anything to anyone starting from anywhere. With this in mind, we have evolved a carefully thought through training process which caters to organizations of different sizes and varied training needs.

jnaapti’s 4 step approach to training

Learning Objectives

When companies plan for a training, they have various objectives in mind. Sometimes, the training is planned to meet organizational learning goals, sometimes for project specific needs, sometimes for anticipated project needs or sometimes for employee motivation. The way a training is delivered depends on these objectives.

The experience level of the target audience differs. People may be learning the same technology, but they have very diverse backgrounds. The way you teach a learner fresh out of college is different from an architect who has 10 years of experience in the industry. To a fresher, you need to relate more to the concepts that they have learnt in their curriculum and why these technologies exist and what to expect from each. To an experienced person, you need to be able to relate to the technologies they already know and what they are learning now. The way you teach MongoDB to a DBA who has worked in Relational Database technology all his career is very different from a fresher who will perhaps find MongoDB more natural than a relational database!

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The Jnaapti Journey – Virtual Coach

What it is

While the idea of Virtual Coach has always been in Gautham’s mind since the inception of jnaapti, a startup does not have the luxury to build the entire vision and then launch. Rather, we have to start building the minimum set of features which we can validate with our users and then iterate frequently and let usage and metrics drive the product’s evolution. Jnaapti has been doing this ever since the launch of the first version of the product.

The vision of “Virtual Coach” is to eventually replace a human coach with a “Virtual” coach but in such a way that the learner does not even realize that he/she is being coached by a virtual entity. It follows the Turing test for Artificial Intelligence, but applies to learning and coaching. While we have started with software technology training, we intend to build a generic platform that has the ability to teach anything (any skill) to anyone (no bias) starting from anywhere (irrespective of what they know today).

The problem that keeps us awake at night is, “How do we scale good quality coaching so that it reaches the maximum number of people?”

Technical details

Version 0

The MVP of Jnaapti’s Virtual Coach was not a “product” at all. 🙂

The initial idea of the training process was tested out using Email as a form of communication between the learners and the coach. As Gautham coached people, he carefully noted down the pains of using Email as the medium of communication. The requirements for the first version of the product was to replace Email as the mode of communication.

Version 1 – 2011

The first version of the product was built single handedly by Gautham using Web2Py. It was a server-heavy product. There was minimal Javascript used and a lot of the backend data entry was done using ready-made views that Web2Py provides out of the box. The entire conceptualization, design, development and deployment of the product took 2.5 months.

The first version of the product was called the “Jnaapti Virtual Learning Environment”.

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The Jnaapti Journey – Engineering Education

While, on one side, we see students who are in the system for all the wrong reasons, there are several we come across who have a genuine interest and curiosity about the world around them. They are passionate about using technology to solve real world problems. Jnaapti tries to identify such potential students and connect them to the right places in the industry.

Fast Trackers Workshop

We conduct a workshop called the “Fast Trackers Workshop” for engineering students. This workshop is a unique blend of technical and life skills delivered in an intense 5-7 days session. Students learn what aspects of their engineering is relevant to the industry needs, what else the industry expects, how to quickly learn a new technology. We show the intricate connection between the various concepts that the students learn during their engineering and how they are required to solve problems in the industry. We use the “Swimming pool philosophy – If you gotta learn swimming, jump into the swimming pool while a coach is watching you”. Within no time we make learners independent of needing a technology trainer to learn new concepts and technologies. In jnaapti, our engineers pick up a new technology within a day or two and we teach these skills to the participants of the Fast Trackers Workshops.

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The Jnaapti Journey – Prologue

Jnaapti was founded in May 2011 with the intention of providing quality education to the masses. We intend to build life-long learners, helping them understand the learning process and making the whole process of learning, fun and engaging. It’s been 6 years since we started and it feels like we have just started! We have learnt a lot and it has been an exciting journey so far.

Our post on The Story of Engineering Education in India is one of the most widely read blog posts. Many have praised us for succinctly capturing the key issues, but some have criticized us saying, “We know the issues. What’s the solution?”

Very little is known about what jnaapti has done or is in the process of doing and this series of posts is an attempt to capture some of our salient experiments and our success stories.

29-may-2011

Here are some posts in this series:

(Rest are coming soon)

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Jnaapti’s Day Out @ FSMK 2014

In the last 3 years of Jnaapti’s functioning, we have visited more than 20 Engineering colleges in South India and one thing that we see in common is the lack of motivation in engineering students.

So when this is what seems like a norm, it’s always good to see organizations like Free Software Movement of Karnataka (FSMK) trying out initiatives like the FSMK Summer Camp 2014.

So when one of our Meetup participants asked us if we are interested in conducting sessions on free software technologies for this upcoming camp, we blindly accepted to be a part of this.

fsmk-2014

What the FSMK team was trying out was something really grand! Getting 185 participants (and another 20 odd volunteers) under one roof for a period of 9 days during the vacations and keeping their motivation levels high during the entire period is not an easy task. But like, Sarath MS (one of the key people behind FSMK) put it, “It’s better to try something this big and fail than to not give it a shot”.

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Jnaapti – The Problems We’re After

Check out this statement from a report on National Employability by Aspiring Minds [pdf]:

Even though India produces more than five lakh engineers annually, only 17.45% of them are employable for the IT services sector, while a dismal 3.51% are appropriately trained to be directly deployed on projects. Further, only 2.68% are employable in IT product companies, which require greater understanding of computer science and algorithms. – National Employability Report by Aspiring Minds

While on one side, there is an ever increasing demand for skilled employees in organizations, the unemployment situation is getting out of control.

Concentrating on increasing quantity of engineers has impacted quality drastically. – National Employability Report by Aspiring Minds

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Jnaapti – One Year On…

Time flies!

It has been a year since I started Jnaapti and it is time to take a step back and reflect on how things have fared during the last one year. I was reading through the mails and the Jnaapti weekly reports and was wondering if there is anything that I have to add to the 6 month report that I wrote back in December or if there is anything that I don’t agree to among the things I mentioned in that list.

So here goes:

  • Naming: Somehow, I don’t recall reading this anywhere, or atleast, didn’t think it was important. But, just like you do usability testing of your product, I think it is important to get the name tested with a few people before you christen your company. While choosing an Indian name, also remember to include people from various parts of India and abroad.
    The name Jnaapti is a Sanskrit word which means to “acquire knowledge”. I had a few things in mind when choosing the name:

    1. I wanted an Indian name – because the target segment was Indian to begin with
    2. I didn’t want to have a problem with branding, in acquiring domains etc
    3. Finally, I wanted the name to be generic enough to be used until the vision of the company has been achieved and shouldn’t require a change as I pivot.

    Turns out, people don’t get it.

    Here are some suggestions to people about naming a company:
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Jnaapti – A 6 month Report

This post is not quite about Jnaapti‘s vision and why I am doing it, but more about things that I have learnt since I founded Jnaapti.

I can’t believe it has been more than 6 months already and what an experience it has been! I can easily blog a few hundred pages about my experiences, but here is the MVP (Minimum Valuable Post) – the key things that other wantrepreneurs and newbie entrepreneurs can learn from:

  • The art of self-discipline: If there is one thing that I should pick among the various things that I learnt in the last 6 months, I would pick being self-disciplined and maintaining a rhythm in the face of distractions that are not under your control. Time management is extremely important. When you are handling all aspects of business, there is a good chance that you need to meet someone at their convenience, or you are asked to provide a service (in my case training) and these are not under your control. So you need to get really good at handling these, and getting back to your work as soon as this is complete. For productivity freaks, I use a combination of Pomodoro technique, Hamster, Workrave, this hack and a simple Libreoffice document to manage all my data. I wish it could have been simpler and someday, I hope to continue my efforts in building productivity tools.
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