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Entrepreneur Interview: Shreya Bajaj Shah, Easy Hai

Shreya Bajaj Shah is co-founder at Easy Hai, a social learning company focused on the 50 plus adult population. Shreya and her sister Surabhi started Easy Hai in mid-2020 and what started as simple smartphone familiarization sessions on Zoom is today a vibrant community that has touched ~10000 adults in 1.5 years.

A proud Bangalorean, Shreya is a chartered accountant with an MBA from ISB, actively involved in her family business and part of other ventures in hospitality and sports. In this insightful conversation, Shreya breaks down her fun entrepreneurial journey at Easy Hai.

“Easy Hai is my full time business”

“Easy Hai today is my full-time business endevour. All my time is spent on building Easy Hai because I genuinely believe in its cause. I feel like it’s such a meaningful business because it really helps me sleep better at night knowing that I actually made a tiny bit of difference in someone’s life. My sister is my co-founder and she handles the complete backend, the operational part of it. I’m the main teacher at Easy Hai and we do have two other teachers as well who take some of our day-to-day classes like Google pay or Google photos, Netflix, Facebook, WhatsApp, so on and so forth.”

Shreya, I had the opportunity to be a silent participant in one of your online sessions where your alumni were presenting social media analytics of their respective Instagram accounts. Let us start here. What was the journey for that cohort?

About the Instagram transformation course

Good morning, Mahesh. I’m so glad that you were part of our analytics class. Now the journey of this is backdated quite a bit. We usually have a five-week masterclass called Instagram transformation course. This is 10 sessions, which is two sessions a week, and the session is very detailed including study of Instagram for business accounts. If you’re trying to build a personal brand or trying to look at Instagram for monetization reasons, of course it’s recommended. Now, this course includes everything from understanding your account, making your perfect bio, having an aesthetic feed, understanding the difference between stories, post, reels, Instagram guide, Instagram life, so on and so forth.

The Instagram transformation course has a mix of strategy and of course, how to use the tool. It is very step by step and a clear-cut instructions-based course, and it comes in with a bit of a strategy because the audience for this course are people who are already in service. They include doctors, physiotherapists, reiki healers, yoga therapists, and those in business.

Some of them have either started their own business or are part of a family business. Or they want to start a business in the near future, or they’re probably using Instagram very seriously for their personal branding purposes or for getting speaking engagements in the future. Because people have a definite goal, they do this very detailed course. We work on a WhatsApp group a week, come up with different challenges that people kind of take part in as a community.

Online alumni meet at Easy Hai

Once the five weeks course is over, they all get transferred to an alumni group. And in this alumni group, we meet once a month and these sessions are conducted by me for free. We don’t charge the learners and, in these sessions, we just discuss about the new features of Instagram. Alternately, we take any topic, like on the day you attended, we took the topic of understanding Instagram analytics. And from there on, we make smaller groups, you know, groups of three and asked the team to pick one account among the team members and do a deep dive into their account and present their analysis. This way, they come to know what kind of content works, what are the mistakes they’ve been making as well as what should the strategy in the subsequent months. So that’s the journey of that cohort-based learning.

One of the most interesting parts of being part of that session was watching you switch between being a friend, expert and teacher. Many of your students are successful in their own right but come with a shared passion to learn. Can you give us a little insight into the profile of your students? How diverse or mixed is it?

Age is no barrier to learning

That’s a very interesting observation. I probably do that subconsciously, but I guess you’re right as I think about it. And the reason for that is, I always want to have fun with my learners because I think learning is a lot more enjoyable and also it ends up there’s a, there’s a much deeper penetration if you’re able to enjoy those classes. And I guess just being a friend and being funny helps in all of that, but at the same time, learning has to come with a certain amount of discipline, and hence I do become a strict teacher as well. Yes, most of my learners are successful in their own right. They come with a very, very rich experience, but what amazes me is how humble they are. And they have absolutely no airs about not knowing technology. It overwhelms them, but you know, it’s not like, why do I need to learn this? There is a very deep-rooted curiosity and an interest in learning what’s new and being part of the changing world. And I guess for me, that is, as someone who is growing up, to have that for inspiration is fantastic.

That age is absolutely not a barrier to learning and really learning can happen at any age. And we’ve heard this quote so many times, but to see that in practice is really inspiring at another level. The people that come to my classes are typically quite varied. We have homemakers, people who are retired and want to make better use of their time, then there are people who have so many experiences and want to kind of make a digital archive of the same in the form of a podcast or in the form of a really solid social media profile or you know, like a YouTube channel or just probably write a book and they want to know how technology can ease that process for them.

Then of course, we have people from the business background. Most of them are self-made entrepreneurs or are running their startups now, especially as COVID give birth to home-based entrepreneurs. So that again is another mix of people that are coming to me. And then, people who have been in service. For example, there are lots of lawyers, doctors, you know, service-based backgrounds who want to now dive into the digital space because if the next generation is their target audience, then they feel like having a digital presence is important because that’s how we’re looking for resources in today’s time, right! Like we want to check a Google review or check their Instagram page before we make an appointment with the doctor or look them up somewhere to see how much of an expert they are in their field. And then there are people who are just there for the love of technology. They’re probably taking a sabbatical or they just want to know what Instagram is about, what the changing technology is and just for the love of learning. I have a lot of students even like that in they actually just say it, I just want to know what’s new and what’s happening, technology fascinates me and I want to be part of.

My learners are quite diverse and mixed in terms of demographics. 80% of my students are from India and others are from Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, New York and Bangkok. And we planning to dive into the African market as well.

The first time I came across your Insta profile, I was intrigued with some of the topics you touch upon. Can you tell us what Easy Hai does today? Why the focus on technology?

Any app or software is a course at Easy Hai

Easy Hai’s mission is very, very simple. We’re here to teach technology to adults and seniors. Why the focus in technology because, in the first lockdown, when literally our country went into a standstill, the entire dependence was on technology, whether it is to keep ourselves safe using Arogya Setu, or to even learn about the pandemic, all the resources online, whether to believe the news that’s circulated on WhatsApp or to flag it as fake. How to register for a vaccination, using Cowin or how to even, you know, order your groceries and stay at home, getting an e-pass, whether it’s in the city travel or interstate, pretty much everything was digitally done. And there’s a huge startup society that wasn’t equipped to handle that change. And so really, I started teaching a lot of mainly my immediate family on how to use Google pay or how to buy groceries or how to make your electricity bill online without having to really go to the electricity office and slowly it let the word spread and more and more people started reaching out to us, which is when I realized that this problem exists beyond my family.

I then went on to test whether it was only north Indians because maybe English could be a problem. And perhaps south Indians would find it easier. But it wasn’t any of that. Actually, this is quite a global problem because now that I have students from different countries coming to me. I realized that it’s not about whether we speak good English or not, because technology is just another language. Just like you, you can be very fluent in English and you wouldn’t know anything in Tamil or Telugu or Malayalam for that matter. The computer language is treated the same way. You either know it or you have to learn it and that could mean understanding the basics of operating your phone, understand the basics of operating your laptop, understanding what computer terminology means and how to think, how the algorithm is built and that’s really what we teach in our class. So yes, we are super focused and teach only, and only teach technology.

We have over 40 topics, everything from a simple how to use Netflix or how to use YouTube all the way to Google, Instagram for business, how to use Canva for your designing needs and you know, all your aesthetic requirements. So yeah, the, the topics are varied. Basically, any app or software on your phone, iPad or laptop becomes a class for us, as simple as that.

In India, most academic degrees and programs have an age cut-off and hence the concept of continuous learning is more a personal endeavor. Thanks to technology, we can now access content/courses without those restrictions. You have been able to use digital well, bridge the learning gap and build a trusted community. What do you think is working well for you?

Nobody joins for just one course or session

I think what’s worked for me is if I have discovered that I am a teacher, which is completely accidental and I guess the complete credit of that goes to my learners because they constantly give me feedback. And this audience, and particularly this age group, is so amazing to work with because they’re so grateful and they give you honest feedback and there is absolutely no superficiality in the whole thing. If they love it, they’re going to tell you that they love it and if they don’t understand it, then they’re also going to be brutally honest and tell you that they do not understand it. In the initial days, I think what worked really for us was honest feedback.

We also accepted that feedback really quickly. I mean, when people told us that this class was very bad, we quickly figured out what wasn’t working in that case, whether the material was too long? Should we have given the recording of the class? Should we have broken this down? Was it too much that we dumped in one session? Should we have broken down that further? Was it the delivery of the class with the teacher? Not exciting enough? We really deep dived when the feedback was bad. And then when it was good, we used to also ask them the part of our class they liked. I guess the more common things that I hear is that your explanations are good because you break down technology concepts into simple mundane day-to-day language.

I also drop examples from real world so they’re able to understand the concepts a little better. That style of very relatable, conversational style of teaching technology, something that appeals to them. And other thing that they see is the energy that I bring to class because online classes otherwise are very boring, and of course our information, right.

And most people, they don’t just sign up for one class. They sign up for many classes because they get so hooked to technology. And because they’ve understood one thing, they want to now learn more things. And in the process, they keep coming to our classes. Say you have attended class one and now you’re in class two, if you have any doubts from class one, we usually come in 15 minutes early and stay back 15 minutes after every session so they can always ask us their doubts.

It’s very rounded. We don’t just say, press this button, press that button go left, go. Right. But we kind of try and get into the brain of the developer. Like, why did he do this? What’s the business model of that company? Functionalities remain same across all apps. For example, the minute you see a magnifying glass, it would probably mean use that to search anywhere on the app. I guess little, little information tips, tricks like this works. And then I guess another point that really works for us is because we are here even after the class is over. It’s not just that you come, you pay and you go to class, but if you have a doubt and we help you. We have a WhatsApp support. If you want additional help, you can take a one-on-one class. They’re always connected with us and it’s not like we’re really going away anywhere.

I guess, in very simple terms, it is that we really want the best for our students, and we put them in the center of our business. If they’ve understood, we’ve done our job. If they’ve not understood that we haven’t done well, and then we go back and rework on it, which is why with masterclasses like Instagram or Canva, they have continuous support in the form of free classes, because we’re really here to give them value to make them stay motivated and in turn, they are our biggest brand ambassadors and marketing heads.

All your programs are digital and you did mention about getting invitations to undertake such workshops in person. Is that part of the trajectory or is the goal to stay the fully digital path?

Learners join from across the globe

Actually, all our programs have been digital. And I think that I will continue to keep them digital because it’s not that I have people only from one city. We have people from across the globe that are part of our programs. And I don’t see that getting substituted. However, thoughts do cross my mind, for example, if I have to do a photography workshop, I think that would work better offline than online. And so sometime in the future, I would probably try and offline version of the same, but I think online is extremely comfortable because it’s so cost effective and people can really log in from anywhere, even if on the road, or in their office or at home, or even on vacation. People have attended our classes on vacation because you just have to take that one hour off and continue to learn while doing something else so I think we’re going to stay predominantly digital.

Where do you go from here with Easy Hai?

“The future of Easy Hai..”

With Easy Hai, we will continue with our daily classes so you can decide to come and be part of any of our live classes. We also have a very strong masterclass set up and I’m probably going to add in more courses to that. Right now, we have Instagram and Canva but I’d also like to add in Google sheets for business owners as a very specific masterclass. Then there are a few more courses that are in the pipeline and we will be coming up with those as well. At the same time, I’m also going to experiment with on-demand recordings of courses because we’ve also gotten the feedback that our timings don’t work for everybody, especially because we have students from different countries. We are going to try that however; it won’t just be like purchase the course and watch it at your own comfort zone. It’s going to have a mix of a live Q&A every week. If you’ve purchased that course and you watched it at your own time or at your own pace, but you can always come and attend our Q&A sessions. That’s what I’m building on next and hopefully in the next one month, we should see a couple of those courses go live at Easy Hai.

The future of Easy Hai is to first kind of try and cover all strata of the society in terms of our course delivery so it’s going to be masterclasses, daily classes and on-demand videos. And then from there on, I want to start moving towards tier two and tier three cities because this is something that they need just as much as an urban population, probably more right, because technology is such a boon to everyone. So that’s going to be my second phase of marketing and growth.

You can connect with Shreya on LinkedIn, follow Teach Easy Hai on Instagram or just connect on WhatsApp to learn more.

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