Career Talk with Anurag Parihar, Founder of Rostrum Legal: Raising Standard of Legal Education, Juggling Venture and Studies

Rostrum is one of the very few e-learning market places in India and the first in the online legal learning industry.

Rostrum Legal is an initiative of Alkemia Legal Education Ventures Pvt. Ltd. Rostrum is what can be defined as a virtual portal for law students to engage in distance learning for a variety of subjects ranging from Consumer Laws, Contractual Laws etc.

Therefore, Neeati Narayan decided to engage Mr. Anurag Parihar, the brains responsible for giving this idea a firm execution, for an extensive interview wherein topics like entrepreneurship, market for such initiatives and law school perspective were discussed. Follow on for a lively exchange of ideas and ideologies.

Alkemia_21.      Greetings Anurag! You are slowly becoming a legal household name by virtue of Alkemia  Legal Education Ventures Pvt. Ltd. and Rostrum – an e portal for legal learning. What is the basic ideology behind this start up?

We have more than 900 law schools in this country on an average 50 students become lawyers each year from every single law school. Everyone’s aware of the standard of legal education we have in our country.

We started off with this venture with a vision to deliver the quality education, which a student of top ranked law school gets, to each and every law student in the country.

We aim to contribute to the common endeavour of various organizations, start-ups etc. to raise the standard of legal education in the country.

2.      I am rather intrigued by the name! What’s the significance of it? Any story behind it?

The name is inspired by Paulo Coelho’s Bestseller Title ‘The Alchemist’. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. There’s no story as such, but reading the book was a life changing experience that is why we preferred to go with this name.

The word Alkemia is derived from the Greek word Alchemy. Alchemy is a mythological art of transforming a stone into gold. Our tagline Transforming Legal Education follows from the same meaning.

3.      How did the idea of launching this start up formulate?

It all started with a plan to setup an NGO to teach the intricacies of law to Layman. We created a simplified course on Consumer Laws with the help of various people as our first product. Things didn’t went well and we failed to move ahead with the idea, reason being lack of funds, tough incorporation procedures etc. We then thought of delivering the same course online to law students for free.

The first batch of the course consisted of 700+ users who enrolled themselves through our portal in a span of just 6 days. Following the success we moved ahead to deliver various paid courses as well.

Right now we are involved in e-learning, publications and legal test prep coaching.

4.      The market, as of now, is developing heavily on the notion of online courses and certifications. What makes Rostrum different than all such competitors? Speaking business, what is your USP per se?

We have a lot of big players in the mobile phone market and in the past few years we have seen the rise of new players into giant companies and downfall of big companies as well. You need to innovate and improvise yourself from time to time to deliver value to your consumers.

The consumer base in the online legal learning industry is very small but still it’s world’s biggest… As compared to the number consumers, we have a very less number of online course providers and only few of them are in the top tier. Rostrum is one of the very few e-learning market places in India and the first in the online legal learning industry.

We operate as a different breed of e-learning business.

Our USP, firstly, is the pricing of the courses: ‘we have courses priced between Rs 500 to Rs. 5000’, secondly, the preciseness and the practical application of the course material we deliver. We even deliver free certificate course at least one batch in a month. It helps us to attract a lot of people!

5.      How did this idea transit from the planning stage into the realm of execution stage?

I learnt the basics of word press & web designing by reading a lot of articles, created a website with a very simple LMS and simply launched the courses. It had a lot of technical bugs which were solved after user feedbacks but it proved to be a good Launchpad for us.

We already had a course module on Consumer Law ready with us when we planned to start. The biggest task remaining was to develop a Learning Management Portal.

I started approaching some good web designers to develop one for us but had no idea of costing and other technicalities. The lowest price quoted to us was 40k and the highest was in some lakhs. We didn’t had that much money to spend on this so planned to develop it on our own.

I learnt the basics of word press & web designing by reading a lot of articles, created a website with a very simple LMS and simply launched the courses. It had a lot of technical bugs which were solved after user feedbacks but it proved to be a good Launchpad for us.

Apart from this lots of books, articles in websites like Forbes.com & Entrepreneur.com helped me a lot in learning to business. People should try reading books like Connect the Dots, The 100 Dollar Start Up to get some fresh and knowledge for doing business.

6.      How have you been juggling this venture with other requirements of your work routine?

It’s not that tough to run a business while you are a law student especially when you are in the field of legal learning itself. Once you start with something things automatically keep on turning in your favour if you move in the right direction with hardwork and dedication. In fact, this itself is a apart of the learning process.

It has now become very easy to manage a business from anywhere you want. We have kept everything online including our library, accounting & billing software, and various other important things thanks to a lot of open source & free cloud based business tools.

We are proud to call ourselves a cloud company and I have no shame in telling people that we love to hangout in places which provide us with free wifi connection.

7.      What have been the biggest challenges rather roadblocks. What have been the mini morals of these stories up until now?

Teaching law to someone being a law student itself is a biggest challenge. Teaching experience is not that important but it’s hard to convenience people on your thoughts. People never take you seriously.

When we share our story to people they say that u guys are doing great but when we approach them for the purpose of business they hesitate to join us.

To overcome this type of problems we have to act like professionals, we never let people know that we are kids in terms of doing business. You should know each and every aspect of the business you are doing and you should also be aware of the industry and the competitors. This has helped us a lot in overcoming this type of problems.

8.      What has the student reaction been like? Speaking money-wise, how has the market been for your online courses?

We have 2700+ registered users in our newly built portal and we have delivered certificates to more than 4000+ users in past 8 months.

Money-wise we are doing good, we have grown a lot since incorporation. We have invested a good amount of money in R & D from what we have earned. Making is not an issue for at least next two years, we can survive on pocket money till that time.

Talking about the market, I’ve already said before as well that it’s the biggest market in the world in for of education and e learning. We have occupied a good number of learners and hope to increase it in the future with lots of innovative e-learning services.

Alkemia_39.      Any particular people instrumental behind ‘Rostrum’?

There are more than fifty people associated with us who help us in preparing and delivering courses.

We never hesitate to seek help from people if we face problems and to learn something new to grow and develop ourselves. Our advisors include some of the eminent personalities from the legal industry.

We are a core team of three people Me, Aounkar & Elakkumanan (Lucky). I take care of business development, Aounkar and Lucky work for research and development for Online Courses and Test Prep courses respectively.

10.  What would you term to be an ‘achievement’ for you and Rostrum? Any such triumph which you could share with the readers?

I will be very proud to call myself the founder of a website which will deliver courses along with the courses from some esteemed institutions like National Law Schools, IITs IIMs to at least 50000 users in a year.

We have recently associated with an NGO to deliver the Consumer Law course to more than twenty thousand students of various colleges and schools in Chhattisgarh for free.

11.  Describe a day in the life of Anurag?

There’s nothing special in it and I would suggest people not follow me. The day starts in front of the laptop checking the stats on website and social media profiles and replying to the queries thereafter scheduling the posts on FB and twitter for the day, reading newspaper etc.

Then I go to college to attend the classes after the classes gets over the laptop attracts me once again doing some research, contacting people, replying to feedbacks etc.

I don’t like to oversleep and I hate holidays. I love to party with my friends on weekends, we often go to roam nearby places on road trips.

12.  Do tell me about any Future plans.

We currently plan to grow as a leader in online legal learning and online legal test prep industry by the end of the next year. We will be launching some undergraduate and post graduate online diploma courses in affiliation with some law colleges.

Talking about long term we project ourselves to be an online law school imparting some online law degrees to students.

13.  Your message to the readers and the supporters?

To law students who wish to be entrepreneurs. Be Creative Dream big and Trust yourself. Deliver value to people in whatever field you are!

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Comments Till Now

  1. DINESHWAR GAUR says:

    http://www.rostrumlegal.com not functional for a number of days.I dont understand how to complete my signe course on intenational arbitration.

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