The Unsexy Day to Day of Growing a Successful Online Learning Startup

Women 2.0 discusses life as a busy tech entrepreneur and mom with Springboard co-founder Parul Gupta.

W2: What problem did you see in the market that inspired you to start your company?

PG: At Springboard, our mission is to make high quality, life-long learning accessible to professionals around the world. Right now, most of the education is front-loaded at the beginning of people's careers. However, technology is evolving very rapidly and professionals need to keep learning to stay relevant. We provide online, project-based workshops with 1-on-1 mentoring from industry experts to help with that.

W2: What type of customers do you serve? Why is your solution uniquely positioned to address their problem?

PG: Most of our customers are working professionals or graduating students looking to up-skill, or transition into a new career. Since they already have full time commitments at work or school, and often a family, it is not easy to quit their job and move back to school. Our online, self-paced workshops are designed to fit their lives rather than the other way around.

W2: What resources have been especially helpful to you as you’ve built your company?

PG: We live in fortunate times where information is abundant and networks are hyperconnected. My entrepreneurial education has comprised of much reading around the web, especially writings from Paul Graham, Mark Suster, Ben Horowitz, and First Round Capital, and numerous conversations with fellow-entrepreneurs and leaders. This rich ecosystem has been the single most helpful resource while building Springboard.

W2: What’s your morning routine?

PG: I try to get a headstart on the day by waking up before the household does, usually by 5.30 am. I sneak in some exercise (yoga, running or one of those 7-minute workouts) and meditation. Then, I catch up on email and Slack, and often wrap up a call or an interview before my 5-year old wakes up. We get ready for work and school and head out together!

W2: What’s the best productivity hack you’ve found?

PG: Given the vast amounts of information and lists that fill my life, the trio of Evernote, Pocket and Workflowy make up my lifeline.

W2: What makes you laugh?

PG: The nonstop banter, giphys and emojis on Springboard Slack channels!! We have quite an office full of characters. :-)

W2: Based on your experience, what’s the biggest takeaway you can give to other Founders?

PG: Do it for the right reasons! From the outside, starting a company might feel like an adrenaline-loaded shortcut to fame and money, but the day to day is totally unsexy. If you are motivated by the right reasons - the mission of the company, the desire to create an impact or pushing your boundaries - you will thrive despite the arduous journey. It will be a roller coaster - so hang in there when it hits the lowest lows!

Parul Gupta is co-founder of Springboard. She has been named by MIT Technology Reviewer India as a Top Innovator under 35 and was the first woman recipient of the IIT Bombay Distinguished Service Award. She took a plunge after nearly a decade long career in tech and started her own company by chasing her passion for online learning. @parule8ue