Sandeep Jain, Founder of GeeksforGeeks tells us about their platform designed for every geek wishing to expand and share their knowledge.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sandeep Jain: It is in Sandeep Jain deed a tough time for everyone. Whether it be kids, youngsters, or elder ones – everyone’s life has got affected due to this global pandemic and respective lockdown situation. However, on the positive side – what I feel is that in the last few months, people have learned the importance of good health (both mental and physical), spending time with family, and most importantly, the need for digitalization.
Let me tell you, I usually spend most of my free time with my family, solving programming problems in the most efficient ways and in using platforms like LinkedIn to connect with the students – and I’m doing the same in current times as well. Above all that, I believe that things are surely going to get back to normal very soon.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded GeeksforGeeks.
Sandeep Jain: Myself Sandeep Jain! Starting from the beginning – I’m an IIT Roorkee alumnus and worked with DE Shaw and Co. as a Software Developer and JIIT Noida as an Assistant Professor. I actually started GeeksforGeeks when I was simultaneously working at DE Shaw, and then I left that particular job to go ahead with the website wholeheartedly.
I’ve always been passionate about teaching – and that’s perhaps the primary reason that prompted me to come up with a platform like GeeksforGeeks that can help the students in all possible ways to achieve their career goals.
However, let me tell you this also that the core idea was first ignited in my mind during my graduation days itself – when I found myself and other students of my batch in a struggling situation during placements as there was no one to guide us about the recruitment process, to provide us with the quality resources, to let us know what companies ask in the interview and other similar concerns at that time. That was really very disappointing.
Initially, it was started as a blogging page consisting of very limited content for Computer Science students – but in the last few years, GeesforGeeks has grown exponentially with the immense support of students and has become the one-stop destination for all their placement preparation related concerns.
How does GeeksforGeeks innovate?
Sandeep Jain: We started GeeksforGeeks with the vision to make Quality Education very much affordable and accessible to everyone to get them their dream job or other career goals. And with a similar reason, we provide a majority of the content and other learning resources at GeeksforGeeks free of cost. This is something that we think sets us apart from others.
Going more specific – whether you want to learn Data Structures and Algorithms, Programming Language or any other computer science subject or want to practice the problems, or want to share your learnings with others or want to know about the recruitment process of any tech giants and respective interview experiences – GeeksforGeeks allows you to do everything without any hassle. Alongside, various programming events & webinar sessions are scheduled regularly, and numerous internship opportunities are also provided to the students.
The practice section of the website allows you to practice as many programming problems as you want without any hassle. Also, you can track your progress and view your rank among other programmers. Moreover, the courses provided at GeeksforGeeks are designed by industry experts with numerous enriching features like premium video lectures, schedule flexibility, practice & assessment tests, lifetime access, certificates, and many more at the most affordable prices.
In addition, the platform provides the ‘Contribute’ option, where users can come to write on a topic and can share it with everyone. And yes, they get rewarded also for contributing in the form of remuneration, internship opportunities, discount offers, etc.
Other than that, GeeksforGeeks also has its own job portal for all the individuals out there where you can explore thousands of job opportunities conveniently and apply for the relevant ones.
At the same time, we constantly work on the website UI and UX to make the learning experience much better for the users. With similar concern, we’ve recently launched GeeksforGeeks Premium also that offers you features like ad-free content, premium reading experience, newsletter, etc.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Sandeep Jain: Needless to say that due to this coronavirus pandemic, businesses are facing a hard time – not only in India but across the entire world. Meanwhile, GeeksforGeeks also get affected by this but overall in a positive manner. For instance – it emerged as the savior for everyone, whether it be the students or working professionals, by providing them the quality learning resources, placement preparation guidance, job opportunities, and other required resources at free or most affordable prices and without any geographical barriers.
Amidst the global pandemic situation, we realized that our responsibilities towards the students and society have now increased, and that’s why we took several crucial initiatives in recent times to make things a bit convenient for everyone. Just for an example – we made the GFG job portal open for everyone to help out the individuals in landing up their dream job without any hassle, launched various new courses to make students industry-ready, etc.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Sandeep Jain: Let me tell you first that the working model of GeeksforGeeks is designed in such a way that everyone can contribute and everyone can consume the content from the website. It is more like a huge community of tech enthusiasts.
Now, from the organizational perspectives – we’re having a team of more than 200+ professionals at GeeksforGeeks. I remember, in the initial years, we’re a group of only 5-6 people who manage to do all the things. Some of them were previously my students who joined me in this venture and gave their best input in all possible ways to scale up the platform. Contentedly, I never have to explain the idea or motive behind GeeksforGeeks to anyone in the team as the platform is a solution for the general problem of lack of quality content & resources for interview preparation that is faced by almost every individual out there.
The major thing I learned regarding human resources in the company is that regular brainstorming sessions, one-to-one meetings, conferences, etc., among the team members, are very much essential for a transparent, lively, and productive working environment.
Your final thoughts on your current business plan?
Sandeep Jain: As I said previously, after this global pandemic when online learning has become the new normal, ed-tech startups are becoming the need of the world. But, we at GeeksforGeeks, rather than grabbing it as an opportunity, are taking it more as a responsibility to come up with more sustainable and affordable solutions for all the students out there for making things much easier and convenient for them.
We’re working on a lot of new ideas and business plans, such as we’re coming up with various new online courses based on trending technologies as per the industry requirements, new campus programs across the nation, integration of advanced technologies on the platform to make the learning experience superior for the students, specific video content on YouTube, etc. In short, we’re working on every aspect that can help an individual of any financial background or geographical location to achieve his career goals.
How are you funded and what is your revenue model?
Sandeep Jain: In its journey of more than 10 years – GeeksforGeeks has never got into any funding process to manage the organization’s functioning or for any other cause. If I tell you the reason behind it – I personally believe in such cases there often comes contradiction in the thought process, vision, or goals of the key persons of the organization that eventually results in degraded user’s experience or, in our case, it can be lack of quality content, etc.
Talking about the revenue model, GeeksforGeeks generates its major portion of revenue from the Google Adsense model i.e., by displaying advertisements on blog posts. Also, there is some premium content too for the students and recently we’ve launched GeeksforGeeks Premium features as well but these don’t affect much on revenue as the majority of the content on the website is free of cost for everyone.
Who are your competitors and what is the company’s client base?
Sandeep Jain: To be truthful, the only competitor of GeeksforGeeks is GeeksforGeeks itself. Let me tell you how – we constantly try to make the platform better than yesterday and come up with updated & relevant content for the students consistently. When we started, we were coming up with just 4-5 blog posts per week or even less than that. Yes, it’s true. But the frequency increased gradually and even it is increasing now as well. Also, there was not any income from the blog in the initial years and we faced so many hurdles and challenges but the platform is continuously evolving because of our sheer commitment to come up with the topmost content and other resources for students.