This is the interview of Sarbari Dutta – An Emerging Entrepreneur & Founder of Alpha School of Life Skills.
Who is Sarbari Dutta
Born and brought up in a progressive bengali family, me being the only child of my parents. My father was a veterinarian and mom a complete home-maker. As parents they have always empowered me to take my own decisions and I have lived a restriction-free childhood .
As a student I have always wanted to become a doctor but couldn’t crack the JEE exams. My first and may be the biggest failure of my life has taught me many life lessons-most important being to let go and move on.
I did my graduation in Zoology (Hons) from Calcutta University, later in did my B. Ed. I started my career as a medical representative in Glaxo India. I was in pharmaceutical`s CRM for 4 years in many MNCs ,post which I took a family break. This was phase in my life when I built my resilience and psychological stamina.
I returned to profession as an educator which completely changed the dimension of my life. I enjoyed my role as a teacher, mentor, a positive change-maker in young people`s life. I believe I could find my IKIGAI in this role and strengthened my knowledge base by getting certified in child psychology and completing my B.Ed.
Moving ahead , I further got certified as a Mind Power Expert, NLP Practitioner ,Mindfulness Coach. Being in school segment for over a decade ,enhancing my portfolio from a teacher
to a section head to heading a pre-primary school, I finally stepped out to have my own venture . With my dynamic background of the corporates and education, I always wanted to create something beneficial to student`s holistic development.
My first entrepreneurial initiative -Koncept Learning pave the path to meet my co-founders in my present venture Alpha School of Life Skills. Incorporated in the year 2019, we are a start-up envisioning to develop Life-skills amongst students, young adults, professionals and society at large.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Sarbari Dutta: In my experience with students ,which ranges from the toddlers to teens , I could recognize a gap between their academic competencies and life competencies.
This gap keeps widening as they move ahead in life and step into the professional world. Inspite of being academically sound, students fail to overcome the commonly occurred challenges like exam stress ,peer-pressure, parental and societal expectations etc.
They struggle with relationships issues. Anxiety, depression, withdrawal are few visible outcomes to mention.
My concept behind Alpha School of Life Skills is empowering the youth with Life-Skills training which will help them bridge the gap and make them prepared for life.
What service(s) or product(s) do you offer?
Sarbari Dutta: We provide a full curriculum of experiential learning modules on Life Skills (both online and offline) , based on the 10 core Life Skills as recommended by WHO.
LSQ- Life Skills Quotient-This is a standardised Life-Skills Assessment test to understand an individuals score on each of the 10 core life skills
We also provide workshops for parents and teachers for creating awareness on Life Skills Education
What is unique about your business?
Sarbari Dutta: Our business believes in 3A philosophy – Awareness , Analysis , Action.
We create awareness through our parenting programs /training sessions with teachers/also a public online webinar series -Will2Skill.
Analysis takes place through various psychometric tests. And finally the action happens through the Experiential Life-Skills Workshops .
What made you choose this type of business?
Sarbari Dutta: It has been my dream and passion to create some curriculum for the young generation which is beyond academics and helps empowering them with skills to face the real life challenges. This has sown the seeds of foundation of Alpha School of Life Skills.
What was your mission at the outset?
Sarbari Dutta: Life-skills education needs to be in the mainstreams in order to make the younger generation future ready. It is our mission to create a complete ecosystem for providing life skills education to students from the very beginning of their schooling.
How many employees in your organization?
Sarbari Dutta: We, the four founding women are active contributors in the organisation. In addition we have 3 trainers and 2 graphic designers.
As a start-up we encourage collaboration to scale -up the process of reaching out to the stakeholders and we have support from over 50 educators and thought leaders from the industry.
What’s your company’s goals?
Sarbari Dutta: As a first step ,our objective is to collaborate with educational institutions to provide Life-Skills Education to the students from grades 6th to 12th.
Moving ahead we envision to become the one-stop solution for Life Skills Education , be it training students or training teacher or creating awareness amongst parents and the general public.
How do you build a successful customer base?
Sarbari Dutta: Our key beneficiaries are the students , in order to implement Life Skills Education amongst them , we are focusing on approaching the educational institutions( principles/management) who can be a bridge between us and the students.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Sarbari Dutta: Its my nature not to take any failure in a big way , I have taken it as a catalyst to do better or re-tune myself and my work to move on.
Talking about failures , what I have learnt is that failures comes from external sources in the form of people or process or outcome. If we decide to do something great and have strong belief in it then we can always float over any failure or adversity.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Sarbari Dutta: My biggest inspiration are my parents -both have taught me one lesson through their life – to go on with your dreams come what-so-ever.
Today my inspiration are my students with whom I have spent over a decade ; their faces and names keeps changing as I come across different sets of pupils in different platforms, I keep learning from each of them , they keep motivating me to do the work I am doing.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Sarbari Dutta: In the initial days of my start-up I have over-expected from people who have been associated with me – may it be in terms of understanding the project or delivery of work.
Now I am wiser enough to pause and analyse the actual capability of the person concerned. Now I look out for the capability with respect to the actual skillset , not just the CV ,after-all , we as an organisation are envisioned to fill this skill-gap only.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Sarbari Dutta: For anyone who is just starting out my advice would be ” Remember to Kiss- Knowledge- You should have adequate knowledge on the product or service which you are starting with.
Idea- Your idea should be actually a level above just an idea-the idea should be a capsule to solve a burning problem.
Strategy-Any start-up need to have a strategy in place ,even to initiate the process of starting up. An idea without any strategy is like a book with only the cover.
Sustainability-Make sure you are tough enough to sustain all the adversities of business that comes your way.
Does your company help the community or society?
Sarbari Dutta: Alpha School of Life Skills envisions to inculcate life skills in students, young adults, professionals and society at large.
This in itself is a service for the society as we are working on the 10 core Life Skills ,recommended by WHO, as skills needed for any individual to deal with daily challenges of life.
Though we are collaborating with Educational institutions for impacting students, we are open to work with NGOs for reaching out to the masses.