The following is a guest post by Nikhil Kulkarni about his Global Startup Battle experience. Kulkarni worked with team members Devi Prasad Hazari, Vepa Sameer Kumar, Shikhar Sethi, Abhimanyu, and Raghav Khullar to develop the idea for “LEBTOP” at Startup Weekend Hyderabad. You can read more about their story here or watch a Prezi from the team’s Startup Weekend presentation.
We have an innovative solution to solve the english education problem in India. This idea of our social startup struck a chord with many people and developing a prototype was key to success at the event. At first, I was not sure if the idea could be implemented. My developers on the team weren’t sure either. Then I went asking other people from different teams to help us out. I approached the organizers too. Then on the organizing team, I found Chaitnaya, the founder of a cloud telephony company called kookoo . He helped us build the product prototype using Kookoo. At the last minute we built a rough model which was enough to demonstrate and impress the judges.
We are a team of 6 members, out of whom 2 are my close friends from college, Devi Prasad Hazari and Sameer Kumar. I am a Mechanical Engineer, presently in a government job. My friends are software engineers in private companies. The 3 others we met at Startup weekend were developers Shikhar Sethi and Abhimany, who flew to Hyderabad from North India just to attend the event, and Raghav Khullar from Microsoft.
The developers at the event were in demand as they were very less in number. So I collaborated with the other team and shared developers. And Shikhar had his own idea being implemented at the weekend and wouldn’t invest much time into my idea. Towards the end of the weekend I managed to convince them and work for the idea LEBTOP. Also I got timely help from Chaitanya, the member of organizing team and the founder of Kookoo. Thus we managed to put together a good presentation and demo, which finally paid off.
LEBTOP – Learning English By Talking On Phone, is based on the idea that languages can be learned by talking with other people who are better at it. LEBTOP is a number, which people can call up to get graded and start talking to people of higher grades to practice and learn. Users should earn their minutes of Talking to higher grades by teaching Lower grades. Thus Users are teachers and Learners.
I came up with this idea at some conference where we friends were sitting in the last row and having fun. One of my friends was from the rural and said he cannot understand what the speakers at conference was saying and I said you can easily learn English by watching movies with subtitles on your laptop. He said he did not have a laptop. I suggested watching English channels on TV, He does not have TV too. He said sometimes a Radio helps. Then I realized, people in rural areas do not have a solution to learn and practice english. I also believed that any language can be learnt by just speaking it with different people and everyone corrects you a little on this learning journey. So i thought, why not use a basic cell phone to connect different people and help them practice and learn over phone. I started drawing the concept on paper. The idea was to collect all people who are interested in learning English, then Grade them, then have them talk to each other and help each other. But I had to add an element to remove the problem of “why will people help each other without reason ?” So I added, Teach to Earn Minutes of Learning idea. And thus I had an amazing idea which I call LEBTOP, short form of “Learning English By Talking On Phone.”
We are building the platform to handle calls right now and connect them to each other. Also we are concentrating on the curriculum i.e topics of conversations. Yes, we will most certainly continue with the startup. Its an Idea which can change lives of many people, we believe so.
We plan to use APTIS a testing package certified by British Counsil to grade our callers. We plan to expand to other languages, as india is a country which speaks numerous languages and there are people interested in learning other languages. Also there are people who would like to teach their native language to others in exchange for learning a second language. We have huge plans of expansion, within the country and also internationally. LEBTOP will aim to be the leader in conversational language learning.
Its been a great change, not only in our lives but the lives of our friends and family, at least during that 1 week of voting battle. But now, after the battle, we are not let down by the results, in fact the boost that GSB has given is great. We are working harder, more seriously, and are getting help from unexpected sources.
Advice for new teams? Put your heart and mind into solving some of the biggest problems of our society in an innovative way, and you’ll get all the support from the world.