Rahul Subramaniam, Entrepreneur & co-founder of Athena Education

Rahul Subramaniam

Interview with Rahul Subramaniam, co-founder of Athena Education, an innovative and influential organization in the educational sector

Rahul Subramaniam is a prominent figure in the field of education and the co-founder of Athena Education, an innovative and influential organization in the educational sector.

With a strong background in education and a passion for transforming the learning experience, Rahul has been instrumental in shaping Athena Education’s vision and success.

Under Rahul’s leadership, Athena Education has developed a reputation for its cutting-edge educational programs that combine technology, creativity, and individualized instruction.

Rahul’s vision for the future of education is centered around creating a learner-centric ecosystem that nurtures students’ curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

He envisions a world where students are empowered to take ownership of their education, and where technology serves as a catalyst for personalized learning experiences.

Through his leadership and innovative approach to education, Rahul Subramaniam has made a significant impact on the field and continues to inspire educators and students alike.

His commitment to transforming education and empowering learners has positioned him as a thought leader in the industry, and his contributions to the field are shaping the future of education for generations to come.

Tell us a little about yourself

Rahul Subramaniam: As an immigrant’s son, I had the opportunity to move to the United States with my mother to join my father, who had already relocated for work before my birth in 1989.

Growing up in Fremont, California, I struggled to balance my American identity with my parents’ traditional expectations of retaining our Hindu background.

Despite initial resistance, I focused on academics and pursued extracurricular activities like chess and music, where I gradually excelled.

Through hard work and dedication, I was fortunate to receive acceptances from every Ivy League school I applied to, and I ultimately chose Princeton University.

However, I faced challenges on campus due to my middle-class Indian identity and encountered the old boys’ club of established white privilege.

Nevertheless, I studied politics and philosophy, eventually majoring in politics and joining the Office of Religious Life to celebrate the value of cross-cultural interaction.

I also found fulfillment in helping others as a mentor and coach, conducting SAT classes, and guiding students on how to gain admission to the Ivy League.

By the time I graduated in 2011, I had established myself as a name on campus, known for my achievements and dedication to assisting others in achieving their dreams.

Please tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey

Rahul Subramaniam: As entrepreneurs, my co-founder Poshak Agrawal and I embarked on a journey to bridge the gaps in the Indian education system using our Ivy League education.

We began by mentoring the children of our acquaintances with their college applications. We gradually realized that there was a sore need for structured profile development and college applications in India.

This insight spurned our vision to create Athena, a personal mentorship program modeled after the Ivy League that would serve scholars across India.

With our strong academic foundation and passion for helping students succeed, we set out to create a holistic development program at Athena.

We aim to provide students with personalized mentorship and guidance, focusing on their academic achievements and overall growth and development.

As we continue our entrepreneurial journey, we remain committed to empowering students across India to achieve their dreams and actualize their full potential.

Kindly brief us about your company, its specialization, and the services that it offers

Rahul Subramaniam: Athena Education was founded nine years to enable high-school students to receive a world-class education, gain admission into Ivy League and other elite universities worldwide, and become the best version of themselves.

Athena’s robust team of writing and counseling experts, in-house tech, research, and art mentors, and Harvard admissions consultants provide one-on-one support in all areas—from extracurricular profile development to college applications and even essential life-skill building.

Athena Education is now a leading education consulting firm modeled after the Ivy League, with students in more than sixteen countries.

What is your biggest USP

Rahul Subramaniam: As a one-stop shop with a comprehensive personal mentorship program for 9th-12th grade students, we excel in extracurricular profile development, college application support, and essential life-skill building.

Athena’s team of diverse mentors, including subject matter experts and our cutting-edge robotics lab, sets us apart, providing technical upskilling, design skills, leadership, and entrepreneurial expertise.

Our experiential learning approach through hands-on projects and practical exploration fosters a unique profile development, distinguishing our students.

Our innovative and holistic approach empowers students with the skills, knowledge, and experiences necessary to excel in college and beyond, unlocking their pathway to success.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur and start your own business?

Rahul Subramaniam: Poshak and I returned to India after completing our undergraduate studies abroad.

We were determined to make a meaningful impact, and the Indian market seemed to be a hotbed for startups.

While figuring out our next steps, we stumbled upon the opportunity to provide admissions consulting services as a side hustle.

We quickly realized a significant supply-demand gap in the Indian market regarding students aspiring to study in elite universities and the lack of adequate assistance.

This realization led us to establish Athena as a full-time venture. Over the years, we have honed our skills and become absolute specialists in admissions consulting.

Our passion for helping Indian students achieve their dreams of studying at top universities has driven our business.

Witnessing the growth of Athena and the impact we have made on the lives of students has been incredibly rewarding.

What was your mission and vision at the outset?

Rahul Subramaniam: As an education consultancy, our vision has always been to become an institution that transforms the lives of high school students, helping them become the leaders and scholars of tomorrow so that they can live successful and fulfilled lives. Elite college admissions is just the first step in that journey.

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest technology and industry trends, and how has innovation played a role in your success?

Rahul Subramaniam: My leadership mantra has always been to strive to be better than yesterday in every way possible.

In doing so, I set a standard of excellence for our entire organization, and help coach our entire team to grow in the areas they’d like to work on.

My leadership style has always focused on mentoring others to unlock their potential, empowering them with a great deal of trust and ownership while ensuring they feel supported throughout.

What’s your company’s goals?

Rahul Subramaniam: At Athena, we empower our students to transcend their school curriculum, build necessary life skills, and develop a mindset of innovative thinking and global citizenship that will be crucial to future success in our ever-evolving world.

Some of our goals as a company are to build an organization of excellence, trust, growth, and belongingness and set a global standard for academic, extracurricular, and holistic life coaching.

What was the inspiration behind turning an entrepreneur

Rahul Subramaniam: When I came to India after completing my undergrad in the US, I sought opportunities to create meaningful impact.

My inspiration to become an entrepreneur was to help students discover what they were put on this earth to do and to usher in the future generation of thinkers and leaders.

From the outset, we had our core mission to trailblaze new paradigms of thought, aspiring to make personal transformation both rewarding and fun.

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

Rahul Subramaniam: As an entrepreneur, I realized it was easy to become so consumed with our mission and objectives that sometimes I forgot to prioritize my own self-care and development.

I know now that I cannot be the best leader until I take the time to meditate, prioritize my health, and zoom out to see the larger picture.

Now, this has become part of my daily ritual, and I have seen a dramatic improvement in my life. This is also an opportunity to set a good example for all our team members, to demonstrate the value of getting perspective on their why and ensuring they care for their wellbeing.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Rahul Subramaniam: My advice for someone starting out as an entrepreneur is to never stop learning.

Embrace a growth mindset and be open to learning from various sources. Stay curious, hungry for knowledge, and strive to be better than yesterday.

Continuous learning equips you with skills, insights, and innovative ideas to propel your startup forward. It helps you adapt to changing market dynamics, identify opportunities, and make informed decisions.

Entrepreneurship is a journey of constant evolution, and prioritizing learning and personal development can increase your chances of success in the competitive business world.

Your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs

Rahul Subramaniam: First, it is paramount to have a crystal-clear vision and mission that align with your long-term goals and values.

This will serve as a guiding compass for all your decisions and actions. Secondly, you must build a robust network of mentors, advisors, and fellow entrepreneurs whose guidance, support, and connections can open doors to countless opportunities.

Embrace failure as a stepping stone to success, learning from each setback, iterating, and improving. Prioritize customer satisfaction, listen attentively to their feedback, and continuously enhance your product or service.

Lastly, stay persistent and resilient in the face of challenges, as entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.

Keep pushing forward with unwavering determination, unbridled passion, and your focus on the big picture.

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