The ‘brainchild’ of Varun Singla and Naina Wadhwa Singla, Gate Smashers is one of the fastest emerging educational channels on YouTube.
As the world adjusts to the new norm of social distancing, education continues to go through rapid changes. The abrupt end to the traditional means has paved the way for newer and brighter avenues. Gate Smashers, one of the leading lights clearing this fog of uncertainty is providing much-needed respite to students through online coaching. Students preparing for exams like GATE, UGC NET, KVS, NVS, HTET, CTET etc, are finding the guidance they need at Gate Smashers.
A power couple, Varun & Naina, through their popular YouTube channel Gate Smashers, connect with millions of students and help them realize their dreams. Their clear vision and epistemological philosophy puts them in a unique position to shape-up the future of millions of students. Quality content, impeccable presentation and a deeper understanding of subjects make for a smashing combination.
Following is an except from the interview Wonderpublish Mag conducted recently with Mr & Mrs Singla:
Q. 1: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to start on this journey?
Ans: I did my graduation in Information Technology, and later finished my M.Tech in Computer Science from Punjab University. I have qualified GATE with 98.5 percentile, UGC NET, HTET & ended being PSU qualified. Naina did her graduation in Computer Science, and later finished her M.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from Guru Nanak Dev University. Naina has qualified UGC NET, HTET. We have always promoted ‘knowledge sharing’ as the most important aspect of one’s life. As they say “keeping knowledge erodes power and sharing is the fuel to your growth engine”. Sharing knowledge is a way to achieve immortality.
We were both busy with our routine profiles as assistant professors. And I was also taking offline coaching for GATE. Soon, we realized that in this education system, students will only be concerned about getting marks by cramming the topics 2 days before the exam and have no concept-based knowledge. But there are also those whose concepts were strong but because of financial or other things they were lacking behind. Their problems, lack of motivation and guidance encouraged me to take a step further and start an online platform for them.
I was in offline business for 4 years and now I have completed 2 years in online as well. “In vain have you acquired knowledge, if you have not imparted it to others”. I find technology and innovation alluring since it leads to progress. We go with this mission of providing knowledge first and then go deep into the areas of subjects the students were lacking and then be committed to them. Initially, though, it was challenging but our passion always uplifted us. We finally received such marvellous comments and appreciable support from students. We believe in, “If one person in each house is educated then the future of that family is safe”. Knowledge is like money, the more you circulate it, the more it increases.
Within 1 year, we reached 1st milestone of 1 lakh subscribers and Now after two years, we have touched Approximately 3 lakh subscribers with 31 Million Views.
Q. 2: You say, you have added ‘Smartwork into the long journey of hard work of students.’ Can you elaborate upon that?
Ans: Hard work & smart work go hand-in-hand. If students work smart, they can do the same amount of work faster & efficiently. There is always a preconceived notion among students that to succeed we have to work hard. It is true, but we have to emphasize working in a smarter way.
The main trick to achieve success is to combine hard work & smart work. Hard work aims at the quantity and may become monotonous and boring after a certain period. Smart work aims at achieving goals with quality. The main idea on which we are focusing is smart work because students can achieve more output by working in an unconventional and modern way. It’s about transforming the old to yield better.
“Work hard, and you will earn good rewards. Work Smart, and you will earn great rewards. Work hard and work smart, and you will earn extraordinary rewards.”
Q. 3: How do you design or curate content? What’s your overall content strategy?
Ans: Our content strategy is comprised of research and analysis of Current Content Reception, Target Audience, and a list of Content-Specific Goals, Objectives, and the planning for the Distribution of the content. Firstly, we find which content resonates with the audience i.e. what is the current situation of students and what are their demands and moreover what sort of problems they are facing to access the online platform. Next, we analyse the reception to the previous posts through the audience comments.
Further, we started with the creation of different playlists not only for the college students but also for students who are preparing for UGC NET, GATE and other PSU exams. Our main focus is digging even deeper in terms of content so that it reaches to the audience directly. Next up, for some source of inspiration reaching out to various playlists available for self-introspection and for identifying the goals of the target audience as it is the best practice to set overall content performance goals. The final piece of our strategy is planning for distribution that what type of content is to be shared on which network and how often. We create a guideline for the pacing of our content distribution.
With all these strategical ideas, we are creating the content in a way that provides value to the audience and to us as well.
Q. 4: Are you seeing any changes in the engagement behaviour of students due to this extended lockdown period? Can you give us some insights into that?
Ans: This pandemic has changed us as a species. It is being said that “Things will never be the same”, this is a deep thought for every sector whether education or tourism or any other. The state governements have temporarily shut down the colleges across the country. This is a crucial time for students who are preparing for exams. Students are rapidly changing their study pattern and are moving towards online platforms and are getting more accustomed to online teaching since it is the only logical solution to accommodate this problem. Education is going to be digital in the foreseeable future. Our classes provide the best content material to work on. Online platforms are saving lives of millions of students.
Q. 5: Tell us about Gate Smashers team? What goes on behind the scene?
Ans: Initially, we both were working as a team being very supportive of each other. We create a positive atmosphere for learning and sharing, that continues to build a collective knowledge channel- Gate Smashers. Naina was always fascinated with management, and I collected the material from different books and made videos. Naina had continued with her work as a mother, as a supporter and as a manager. We together put our heart & soul to make this platform as one of the finest channels for technical background.
But now as students are exponentially increasing, we have also collaborated with other channels so that we can provide not only Computer Science but also different subject playlists. Day by day, we are seeing the transformation in our skills to be of more improvised versions. We, as a team will do whatever is necessary to make sure each area we are dealing with to be a successful one.
Q. 6: Within a year of its inception, Gate Smashers has received the Silver button from YouTube. Given you are reaching out to lakhs of students, what has been the biggest learning for you on this journey?
Ans: We started this journey from a single subscriber. We followed our heart and moved forward. As it is rightly said, “Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.” From the day we started the channel, we have been working every single day and at every step we have learnt since learning never ends. We learned that hard work really pays off, though it takes time, it eventually will. Just focus on yourself and not what others are doing. Even we learned from the students (subscribers) that if you are delivering them the right content, their love and respect will definitely be seen in the form of comments, and the increasing number of subscribers.
We have learned that teamwork is the key to success. We have never lowered our enthusiasm for teaching by seeing negativity around us, instead, we tried to catch positivity by improving where we were lacking behind. It is rightly said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant”. Last but not the least, “Change is the Law of Nature” So we have been updating our content from time-to-time, as per the audience requirement. At last, I would say that our work-life has just started and it’s a long journey. “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing”.
Q. 7: As an influential YouTube educator helping millions of students, where do you see the next change in education coming from?
Ans: According to me, change around the world is driven by exciting new research on how the brain works and how people learn and react to the change. The shift will move away education from the traditional methodology to this impressive technical platform that can be accessed anytime & anywhere. A mountain of information is easily accessible with just a click away. The future is about access anywhere learning & collaboration, both locally & globally. Teaching & learning is going to be social. Things have already started to move this way with the emergence of massive open online courses. Technology will be integrated into each & every sector. This change in educational patterns is all set to open up newer avenues for all. The future is all about strengthening and incorporating student centric learning. Education is witnessing a sea change. Education has surpassed the geographical boundaries coming in the form of online classes.
Q. 8: How has been the response to your mobile application so far? And what’s next for Gate Smashers?
Ans: We are still at the growing phase. Right now, we are more engrossed towards creating a proficient team with members that are capable of providing quality education to students, focusing not only on Computer Science but also covering as many branches as we can so that we can build up an eminent digital platform. After this, we will move towards launching our app that consists of various smart courses with a limited amount of fees so that even the under-privileged students can afford it. We will soon launch our website where students can learn many subjects for free. With this app, the students can get everything under one platform hence not to wander here and there. I hope this project becomes a life-changing event for so many lives.
Click here to subscribe to Gate Smashers on YouTube.