Interview: Nishtha Yogesh, CEO of Hunar Online Courses & Woman Entrepreneur

Nishtha Yogesh

Meet Nishtha Yogesh, CEO of Hunar Online Courses, who went from a receptionist at 12 to launching a startup after becoming a CA, now empowering 55,000 Indian women

In the realm of inspirational journeys and entrepreneurial odysseys, few narratives shine as brightly as that of Nishtha Yogesh, the remarkable CEO of Hunar Online Courses. From humble beginnings as a receptionist at the tender age of 12, Nishtha’s trajectory is a testament to grit, determination, and an unwavering belief in the power of education.

Rising from her roots, she embarked on a transformative journey that saw her conquer the challenging terrain of finance, eventually emerging as a Chartered Accountant. However, her ambitions did not stop there. Fuelled by a passion to make a tangible difference in the lives of women across India, Nishtha ventured into the realm of entrepreneurship, founding Hunar Online Courses.

Today, with a staggering 55,000 women empowered through her platform, Nishtha’s story is not just one of personal triumph, but a beacon of hope and inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs worldwide.

Please share your journey from being a receptionist at the age of 12 to becoming a successful entrepreneur and launching Hunar Online Courses? What inspired and motivated you along the way?

Nishtha Yogesh: Born to first generation entrepreneurs, taking about businesses was dinner table conversation for us. So, it was no surprise that from a very early age, I choose summer internships at local businesses over other summer activities.

At the age of 12, I served as a receptionist in an institute. I answered phone calls and provided information about the business. This experience not only shaped my communication skills, it also boosted my confidence.

To learn more about finance, learn experientially & learn about as many businesses as possible – I choose to do my Chartered Accountancy Course. My three years at KPMG helped me hone my business acumen, and I gained invaluable industry insights.

Soon after, I co-founded and successfully ran a CA education-focused business. My first business, at age 21. The culmination of these experiences led me to pursue an MBA in entrepreneurship at Babson College. It was during these transformative years that the vision for Hunar took root. Fuelled by my passion for education and a desire to make it more accessible to women, I built a platform supporting their diverse goals.

As a Chartered Accountant (CA), what prompted you to transition from a traditional career path to launching your own start-up in the field of online education?

Nishtha Yogesh: What inspired me to found Hunar was my strong sense of entrepreneurship combined with the stark reality of the injustices experienced by women. I envisioned a platform offering practical education tailored to the needs of homemakers and young Indian women, which would make skill education convenient and affordable.

My background in chartered accountancy instilled in me strong work ethics and resilience, while my corporate experience broadened my perspective on business. This fusion of skills and values propelled me to create a transformative space in online education.

Hunar Online Courses focuses on empowering women in India. What led you to choose this mission, and how do you believe online courses contribute to women’s empowerment?

Nishtha Yogesh: At the outset, Hunar was motivated by my mothers’ pursuits and the empowering power of education and skill building. Witnessing the positive changes that skill development brought at first hand, particularly in fields like fashion and design motivated me to extend this opportunity to women across India. The rise of online learning provided the ideal framework to customise education for Indian women.

Starting a business involves facing numerous challenges. What were some of the key challenges you encountered during the early stages of launching Hunar Online Courses, and how did you overcome them?

Nishtha Yogesh: In the nascent stages of Hunar, building trust in our platform was a significant challenge. The prevalent digital fraud in our country made it difficult for Indian homemakers to place faith in online businesses.

Overcoming this hurdle involved leveraging the credibility of our investor and brand ambassador, Shilpa Shetty, along with testimonials from numerous student ambassadors. This sense of belonging has lifted Hunar to new heights, with our sights set on becoming a community of one crore women. We’re focusing on expanding our product offerings, including interiors and photography courses, next year.

With a user base of 55,000 Indian women, how do you ensure that your online courses cater to the diverse needs and aspirations of your audience?

Nishtha Yogesh: Our strategy is multifaceted. We conduct in-depth market research to understand changing trends and preferences. We also conduct surveys and feedback sessions regularly. Our courses are as flexible as possible, covering a wide range of topics in fashion, food & beauty, and available in multiple vernacular languages.

Also, we update our curriculum often to reflect changes in the industry and to accommodate new interests among our user bases. We also place a high priority on accessibility by making sure that our courses are affordable, and can accommodate different learning speeds and styles.

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, how has Hunar Online Courses adapted to technological advancements and changing educational trends to stay relevant and effective?

Nishtha Yogesh: Our mission has always been to deliver cutting-edge, outcome-focused skill-based education. Using technology, we bridge the gap between traditional education and practical skills. Our courses feature multilingual video content created by industry professionals, supplemented by master classes and trend-focused live sessions.

Entrepreneurship modules empower our students to launch their own businesses. Beyond education, we offer internships, seed funds and showcases, providing a holistic approach to career development. Hunar Online Courses is committed to staying ahead in technology and education trends, ensuring our students are well-prepared for the evolving digital landscape.

What are your aspirations for Hunar Online Courses? How do you envision the continued growth and impact of the organisation?

Nishtha Yogesh: In addition to becoming a market leader in skill education, our long-term objective is to help women in India achieve financial independence by acting as a catalyst for transformative change.
Our goal is to provide diverse skills for gig and entrepreneurship opportunities to 10 million women within the next five years.

We are broadening our course offerings, strengthening our regional presence, and expanding the scope of our offering. We want to ensure that every woman in India has access to real-world education, dismantling barriers and enabling her to re-skill and grow.

What are your success tips for women entrepreneurs

Nishtha Yogesh: Just believe in yourself and take that next step. Have a question, ask it. Need help, ask for it. But keep moving forward. Very often, we focus too much on the larger vision, and that keeps us from taking the next step. Lots of times, all we need it taking the next step.

In the annals of entrepreneurial success stories, Nishtha Yogesh’s narrative stands as a shining example of what is possible with unwavering determination, resilience, and a steadfast commitment to a noble cause.

From her modest beginnings as a receptionist to the helm of a thriving startup, Nishtha’s journey encapsulates the essence of the human spirit’s capacity to overcome adversity and transform dreams into reality.

As she continues to chart new territories in the realm of online education, empowering thousands of women with invaluable skills and knowledge, Nishtha Yogesh epitomizes the true essence of leadership and inspiration.

Her story serves as a timeless reminder that no obstacle is insurmountable and that with passion, perseverance, and purpose, the sky is truly the limit.

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