Creating a new service and running operations profitably remains the quintessential challenge for all businesses, especially when it is in as subjective a field as education. YOUREKA Campouts Private Limited, a Delhi-based company, claims that nature is the biggest educator especially when arguably most of our children are losing touch with natural surroundings and intense physical activity. Managing director of the Rs 6-crore turnover company Ronny Gulati was in town. HT caught up with him. Edited Excerpts:
Q What is the business model like?
A We tie-up with schools and offer them a four-year programme where in all students are taken through a graded series of camps in natural locations to enable them build confidence. We also run open programmes for public.
Q What is the cost like?
A Typically, a five-day trip could around ? 7,500 per child.
Q Do you face a lot of resistance, how do you convince schools?
A We need to teach our children to learn and interact with nature a lot more. We pitch ourself as a company that recognises the set of values that being in tune with nature and learning from it would bring to the child and thus the school. We have the most reputed schools across India as our clients.
Q Doesn’t the price put off schools?
A We do not cut corners and have set the instructor teacher ratio of 1:5, which ensures safety. We also provide hospital insurance. It is just unfortunate that our prices seem elitist, but we do try and ensure that in some of our schemes the under-privileged are accommodated. The students of a UP school use our services at nominal rates.
Q Do you have any CBSE schools as clients?
A Some. Most of them are happy as it also allows them to include our course as the part of the CCEA system introduced recently.
Q Do you have any official connection with the CBSE?
A We do not have anything to do with the CBSE.
Q What are the challenges you face?
A We bank on reputation. Ensuring the safety of students remains the biggest challenge. Transport and logistics are the backbone and require great attention to detail. We have trained 50,000 students since setting up base 18 years ago.
Q You still remain small in terms of scale, why?
A Scale could be dangerous for me as then it becomes a run-of-themill operation. I am not saying we do not want more business. However, more sales than we could handle would mean tighter schedules, which could affect quality.
Q Any thoughts on getting government in.
A I did meet Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal recently. He was open to government school students joining our programmes.
Q I get the perception that your service is actually for children who would already be confident about their station in life? How do you tackle this?
A We believe that there is no limit to the confidence and learning a student can imbibe as we teach action and consequence in a natural setting. Of course, change comes from the top. If the premium schools see value in our service, other schools also get the confidence to follow and come to us.
Q What is your expectation from Chandigarh?
A We have no targets as such. However, we recently took batch of students from St. Kabir Public School to our camps.