- Founded in April 2018 by Varun Agarwal, Mento is an ed-tech platform offering innovative courses in the areas of entrepreneurship, filmmaking, music, architecture, public speaking, and more.
Founded in April 2018 by Varun Agarwal, Mento is an ed-tech platform offering innovative courses in the areas of entrepreneurship, filmmaking, music, architecture, public speaking, and more.
What makes Mento stand out, however, is the fact that the leading experts in their respective fields execute all of its learning courses. Startup Mento brings together the best in the industry to help students develop alternative career skills, from entrepreneur Ritesh Agarwal of OYO Rooms to filmmaker Nitesh Tiwari to renowned chef Pooja Dhingra.
Name an ‘alternative’ skill and chances are Mento already has an expert teaching the course in that field. The company offers certifications for all of its courses as well. Such certificates are signed by industry experts and celebrities, who teach the course in question
Varun was growing up trying to find an alternative profession. He was involved in producing films, writing, and entrepreneurship. “Neither a lot of knowledge was available, nor a lot of colleges that would offer those courses. That’s the problem we want to solve, and that’s the reason we’ve created Mento, “YourStory tells him.
A BTech graduate, Varun also wrote a fictional book about entrepreneurship titled How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-founded a Million Dollar Business.
Mento is the second venture Varun undertakes and dives into the ed-tech world. His first startup, Alma Mater Store, a custom merchandise brand catering to customers including Google, Amazon, IIMs, IITs, and Yahoo, was founded in 2009 with Rohan Malhotra as well. Varun is also a public speaker, lecturing at 400 schools and colleges in India, and companies across the globe. He also runs a channel on YouTube, where he shares his films.
Mento was originally released as Grades Don’t Matter in April 2018. He says, “I did not feel the market was ready to go back then,” says Varun. So he relaunched it in February this year, after testing the product-market match. Identifying current generation problems with a limited span of attention, Varun designed Mento as a video-first platform.
The founder states that he worked for three months with a specialist in attention-deficit disorder before settling on the teaching method. Videos from the company look a lot like watching a movie. “The aim is to make consumers binge-watch educational content on Netflix like a TV series,” says Varun.
“We want to eliminate the stigma of artistic courses and encourage parents to see these areas as legitimate job opportunities rather than just hobbies. India has seen an increase in the number of young people pursuing creative careers over the last two years, so we feel the time to launch is right, “he adds. The bootstrapped business has a team of 12 members that are distributed around the country and that operates remotely.
While Varun claims that Mento has no direct competitor in India, the company is competing with the likes of MasterClass based in San-Francisco.
“Although Martin Scorcese talks about how he makes his films on MasterClass, on Mento, director Nitesh Tiwari teaches filmmaking as a course and doesn’t talk about how he makes films,” Varun explains. As a market, he says India is not ready for a product like a MasterClass. “We need to raise awareness of these occupations, as most Indians are still in the process of exploration,” he adds.
Mento is competing with other learning sites including Skillshare, Udemy, Lynda.com, Moodle, Khan Academy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Education.
Mento’s user base is rising 100 percent month by month, according to Varun, but is still in its nascent stage. “We ‘re focused on reaching even more learners right now, and then looking at a bigger income scale,” he says.