Master Class Series Session 9

Organic vs Inorganic Growth in Startup Ecosystem

Thursday, December 21st, 2023, The Masterclass Series Session 9, was led by Mr. Gaurav Goel, founder and CEO of TopRankers, who shared an insights on organic and growth growth strategies in startup ecosytem.

Mr. Gaurav provided valuable insights into the journey of his startup, Toprankers, and delved into crucial aspects of business growth, failures, mental health, mentorship, and the dynamics of the EdTech industry. Mr. Gaurav commenced the session by recounting Toprankers’ inception in 2016, highlighting its evolution from a platform addressing career uncertainties in engineering and medicine to becoming one of India’s prominent platforms spanning law, design, commerce, and various management programs.

The discussion then shifted to the dichotomy of organic and inorganic growth in startups. Mr. Gaurav elucidated that organic growth involves internal development, emphasizing its sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to build a unique culture. On the other hand, inorganic growth, achieved through external means like acquisitions or mergers, provides rapid expansion but entails challenges in maintaining equilibrium.

Sharing his entrepreneurial journey, Mr. Gaurav stressed the importance of identifying problem statements before seeking solutions. He candidly discussed Toprankers’ shift from catering to banking and railway exams due to low customer paying capacity, emphasizing the inevitability of failures and the resilience required to overcome them.

Addressing the loneliness of entrepreneurship, Mr. Gaurav shared his coping mechanisms for stress, focusing on mental toughness, playing cricket, and practicing yoga. He then provided insights on finding a mentor, advocating for industry-specific events and networking.

Mr. Gaurav emphasized the need for founders to remain flexible with their ideas and conduct deep market testing for product-market fit. Drawing examples from successful companies like Google and Apple, he illustrated the slow yet organic growth trajectory achieved through continuous product additions.

Discussing the EdTech industry, Mr. Gaurav highlighted the relevance of sustained growth for “cockroach startups” during funding winters. He emphasized the slow process of building a brand around customer needs, cautioning against the temptation to prioritize marketing over product improvement.

Addressing the hybrid learning landscape post-COVID, Mr. Gaurav highlighted the diversity in EdTech preferences, with some preferring offline and others online learning based on affordability and convenience. He underscored the pivotal role of personalization and technology in entrance exams.

On the topic of acquisitions, Mr. Gaurav outlined the decision-making process, emphasizing the importance of aligning product, founder, team, and market synergies. He concluded the session by fielding questions from the audience, addressing topics ranging from finding market gaps to policy changes in the startup ecosystem. Overall, the masterclass provided a comprehensive overview of entrepreneurship, growth strategies, and navigating challenges in the dynamic EdTech landscape.

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Key Learnings:

  • Participants acquired a sophisticated understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of both organic and inorganic growth in startups. 
  • The presentation brought attention to the frequently overlooked role that mental health plays in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs discovered how important it is to cultivate mental toughness and embrace activities like yoga and sports in order to properly handle stress and preserve wellbeing.
  • Mr. Gaurav offered helpful advice on developing a professional network and locating mentors.
  • The acquisitions conversation provided insightful information about the decision-making process. Participants gained knowledge of the factors that are crucial to take into account when thinking about purchasing another business, including market synergy, founder and team suitability, and product alignment.

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