I’ve never thought of myself as a female engineer, or founder, or a woman in tech. I just think of myself as someone who’s passionate.
Every entrepreneur has a flashback. Here is mine
The story dates back to June 2000. Like every other Super mom, I wanted my kid to excel in Math. While I was engaged in my math tuition hunt, a friend of mine suggested me a UC MAS centre in Anna Nagar.
Blessed I am, to have met with Mrs. Vasanthi Raganathan, who offered me an opportunity to take up the franchise. Yes, it took me by surprise. I was equally excited and skeptic. The whole idea seemed to be a challenging long shot. But the thought of creating multiple Shakuntala Devis, rather than just my own daughter, helped me pull up my sock and take up the offer.
My dream franchise came to life on November 1999. Not to mention, there were only three UC MAS centres in India, back then.
The Transformation Phase
My transformation from a housewife to an entrepreneur was quite challenging. The struggle is real, ladies! But, I was determined not to give up.
I had been a house wife for a major part of my life. Thanks to my family, for instilling in me the confidence to take up and run a franchise by myself. My dream UC MAS centre would have remained a dream by itself, without the timely assistance of my sisters and friends.
The Birth of Thej
Finally on 1st of July 2000, I inaugurated my academy, naming it after my dearly elder daughter Thej. The initial location being PSBB K.K Nagar, gave us a great start. Dr.
Mrs.Y.G.P being the chief guest for the day, sent the whole Math Department to encourage our start. It was both overwhelming and a heartwarming gesture from her end. What overwhelmed me even more was, My friends enrolling their kids in my academy. We got 15 new enrolments on the same day. My joy knew no bounds. I was on Cloud nine!!
While I was little relieved that I would be able to manage the expenses like rent and other supplies, I felt the increased responsibility to provide quality education, with every new admission. And that day marked the beginning of our wonderful journey!!
Despite being a Post Graduate, I had bleak chances to hang out with people who spoke polished English. So, Managing people, resources and my Franchise with my communication skills was quite a challenge I had to face, in the initial days. My Self- belief helped me to smash down the walls of uncertainties, I built for myself.
With my managers and mentors, Mr. Jayabhalan, Mr. Fatah and Mrs. Vasanthi encouraging me constantly, I felt confident in every step I made. Special Thanks to the Managing Director, Mr.Basheer Ahamad, for his iconic support, without which Thej Academy would not have come up as the first UCMAS franchise in India.
To people who wonder what UCMAS is and where it originated- I’ve got it all covered. UCMAS means Universal Concept Mental Arithmetic System India pvt ltd. Earlier UCMAS was taught and practiced in Malaysia.
It was the earnest efforts of the pioneers Mr. Fatha, Mr. Jayabhalan, Mrs. Vasanti Ranganathan who brought it all the way till India for the benefit of Indian children.
We grew and grew
In two years, we had more than 100 students enrolled in our academy.
Initially, Thej Academy was an one woman show. I had to take charge of everything from sweeping the classrooms to teaching the students. In three years time, we had a growth in the strength, more than 400 students.
In order to maintain the increasing numbers, I had to appoint teachers. I saw Mrs. Vasanthi Ranganathan’s dream come true, as Thej Academy started to produce many Shakunthala Devis. Despite the obstacles and tougher times with increasing responsibilities, I must admit that I really did enjoy my job- both as an entrepreneur and as a Mentor.
Thej Academy’s venture into National level competitions
In 2001, UC MAS conducted the first nation level Abacus competition. Thej academy produced 47 participants by then. Myself, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi and Mrs. Sathya were present in the competition venue to encourage our students during the competition.
Post the exams, the prize distribution was held in the evening. Our students won several prizes that day. We were overwhelmed with joy. I still remember that proud moment when Master Shashank.V from Thej Academy won the first prize in the competition.
Towards the end of the function, the jury announced the best franchise award.
We clearly did not expect anything as the other branches had bagged a greater number of prizes than we did. To our surprise, the first prize was bagged by our Anna Nagar branch and second prize, but the K. K. Nagar one! We had just won the Challenge Trophy award. My Goodness!! We were on top of the world. That was a moment of celebration and gratitude that I had permanently etched in my heart.
It was then, that we realised that our students are way talented than we thought they were. It was the beginning of this ritual, to participate in national level competitions and bag fame and lots of prizes.
Thej Academy’s Champion of Champions
The Corporate office selects Champion of Champions every year. This practice had been followed since 2001, to encourage students to participate in the International level Competition held in Malaysia. We have our proud prize winners from the same
- In 2001, it was Priyanka Suresh
- In 2002, Achuth Chandrasekar
- In 2003, Nishkala and in
- In 2004, it was Sharath Rajagopal
Our venture into new courses
Thej Academy worked with UC MAS till 2007 and post that, we decided to continue the journey as Thej Academy Private Limited.
As many parents started requesting more courses, and variety in our course structure, We introduced courses like Vedic Math, Spell Bee, Handwriting, Midbrain Activation and this year, Singapore Math. For every course that we teach, the teachers and I, get trained properly from various professors from various locations.
Moving forward I see a lot of opportunities and challenges. I am truly excited and equally geared up for the future endeavours of Thej Academy.
To the women out there, reading this
I hope my journey inspires housewives and other aspiring entrepreneurs. Undoubtedly, it was my genuine wish to make these classes financially accessible to every single child.
For this to happen, I would like to train housewives so that they can start their own academies, however big or small. Trust me, the benefit would be two-fold. It would be an opportunity for the women to try out something new and inspiring and also make abacus classes more accessible to all children.
Gear up women, Nothing is impossible.
Here I am , a living example!