Interview with an Upcoming Edupreneur

You know that you are about to meet someone incredible, when a Google search of “Priyadeep Sinha” yields 1500 search results for your reading pleasure .Here is a summary of his carbon footprint and the impact he has created so far through his startup ADD-on-GYAN Educational Services:

Priyadeep Sinha is recent graduate (2011 batch) at MIT, Manipal where he studied Mechanical Engineering. Having a childhood dream since the 8th Grade to have his own enterprise, he is now exclusively taking care of marketing and sales, product launches, legal department and media representation at ADD-on-GYAN – his start-up in the education sector. He has been a winner of over 10 technical presentation and Business-Plan Contests. He has helped and mentored many teams from Manipal University develop their business plans and win at various institutes across India. He has held leadership positions at college (President, Renewable Energy Club – Manipal) and school (House Captain) levels.

He was awarded ‘Global Achievers Award for Educational Excellence for 2012′ by Economic Development Forum, India. Recently, he was also selected as the ‘Achiever of the Year – 2011′ by He was the creator of Synergia – Manipal’s 1st ever Renewable Energy based Technical Fest and served as its first convener. He also has international work exposure as a Research Scholar at Strathclyde University (Glasgow, United Kingdom) in 2010. He is deeply interested in the education sector and was a selected fellow at Teach for India – 2011 which he could not undertake due to his commitments to ADD-on-GYAN

Here are excerpts from interview conducted by

Inc42 :What motivated you to take this initiative?
Priyadeep: I did not want to join the rat race and get a job, I wanted to do something different which was meaningful and useful, like change the inefficient education system in India. That is why I took up this initiative.

Inc42: What roadblocks did you hit? How did you overcome them?
Priyadeep: 1) Raising money-I am grateful that my family supported me and helped me out financially in the initial stages. ADD on GYAN is now incubated at MUTBI (Manipal University Technology Business Incubator).
2) Forming a team-Getting the right mix of individuals for the team was initially very difficult.

Inc42: What is an average workday like for you?
Priyadeep: No two days are ever the same, every day is different. I work 12-15 hours a day and sleep for about 4-5hours.

Inc42: What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
Priyadeep: Building a team was the most crucial part for me.
I currently have 5 members working full time and 20 interns.

Inc42: What’s the worst business advice you’ve ever received?
Priyadeep: Worst business idea I have ever received is “You have to lie and make things up to sell your product.” For example if a pencil costs Rs 1 to make, sell it for Rs 10.
I have never implemented this.

Inc42: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Priyadeep: Listen to your heart and have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Inc42: What is your favourite book/movie of all time?
Priyadeep: The Godfather by Mario Puzo is my favourite book and it is also my favourite movie of all time.

Inc42: Which inspiring personality past/present would you like to have a dinner conversation with? Why?
Priyadeep: Steve Jobs. He was my biggest inspiration. He did what he liked, lived life on his own terms. Being the richest man in the cemetery did not matter to him. Going to bed at night feeling that he had done something wonderful, that’s what mattered to him.

Inc42: If you were to start another business, what might it be?
Priyadeep: I am a big foodie, I love to eat. So I would probably start a restaurant.

Inc42: What is the importance of internships in a student’s life? Why do you think students need to do internships?
Priyadeep: Talking only about the Indian Education Scenario, there is extremely little or no correlation between what a student studies and what he/she ends up working on. In such a case, an internship is the closest a student can get in terms of understanding how does the real work environment actually work. An internship is a small duration of time when the student is given a 1st hand experience of the real world and it becomes an important stepping stone for his/her future career growth.

Inc42: What are the internships that you have done in your past? How have these helped you?
Priyadeep: Well, I have done a couple of internships during my college life which have helped me immensely prepare myself for my work at ADD-on-GYAN.
I have worked as an Intern at Electromech Material Handling Systems Ltd. where I learnt about a varied many assembly line processes and overhead crane systems made by the German manufacturer, Abus. This was in June, 2009.

I did my second internship as a Visiting Research Scholar at Centre for Biophotonics, Strathclyde University in Glasgow (United Kingdom) where I was working with Lasers and testing with Lasers on live cells (I would not be able to give much details of the project as it is a major research project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). I did this internship back in July-August, 2010.
Both these internships helped me in different ways. While the 1st internship helped me understand the whole concept of assembly line, production, operations research, etc. which were valuable to me being a mechanical engineer, the internship in Glasgow helped me grow diversely technically and culturally. I was living with people from 40 countries and I was working with a completely Scottish Team which helped me understand their work culture. Also, the kind of research being done was absolutely astonishing and I was extremely proud to be a part of the team and contribute. I have used a number of techniques, mechanisms and processes while running ADD-on-GYAN that I learnt at my internships.

Inc42: Who are your mentors? What do you think are the most important things that you have learnt from your mentor?
Priyadeep: Well, my first mentor is Mr. Pulak Sinha (my father) who is General Manager at State Bank of India heading the Internet Banking, Mobile Banking, Debit Cards and other Payment Solutions. He has been the most influential mentor in my life for the last 20 years. He has taught me to be disciplined, dedicated to task and humility. My mother has also been a huge influence in my life and is my closest friend. I also learnt cooking and other household chores from her which are helping me in a huge way today in my life.(Laughs)

Other than my family, two other people have helped me shape up to what I am today and keep guiding and motivating me toward excellence in life and work. Mr. M Chandrasekaran who is currently the Corporate Advisor of Manipal Group, MeritTrac and U21 Global (Singapore), is a big influence in my life. He is a serial entrepreneur who has handheld ADD-on-GYAN and our entire work from the time even before we started the company. I have learnt great many virtues from him and keep learning. The other person is the liveliest and most humble CEO I have ever met, Mr. Luis Miranda who is the Former Chairman of IDFC Private Equity which he founded in 2002. I have known him for around 1.5 years now and he has literally transformed the way I work. He is an inspiration beyond measure for me and I am glad to be able to learn so much from him. I am fortunate to be in constant touch with them and the fact that they guide the entire ADD-on-GYAN Team on a regular basis.

Inc42: Many entrepreneurs complain about not succeeding in business due to lack of adequate funding, what is your take on this matter?
Priyadeep: They are not entirely wrong in complaining. It is comparatively easier starting up in the US than it is in India. In India every tiny detail is scrutinised and is very difficult to start up by yourself without help. In the US start-ups receive more help both financially and otherwise.

Inc42: How would you describe your leadership style?
Priyadeep: I am a team player at heart. I treat my team like my family. I do not like bossing people around unless it is necessary.

Inc42: In your opinion, does an entrepreneur need an MBA to be successful? Are you planning to do an MBA in the future?
Priyadeep: I don’t believe an MBA is necessary for being successful as an entrepreneur. An MBA becomes necessary when you are moulding someone to take the top management seat in an already established company. I would not do an MBA in the near future, say in the next 6 – 8 years.

Inc42: Finally, Your advice to young entrepreneurs
Priyadeep: Do what you like to do, go by your gut instinct and stop worrying about other trivial things.
Link to his Facebook page:

You can follow Priyadeep on twitter @PriyadeepSinha

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