Interview with Bhavneet Chahal by Inspirational Women Series
Bhavneet Chahal is the Co-Founder of GoSkills.com, an online learning company and course provider that helps anyone learn business skills to reach their personal and professional goals. She previously served as an Account Director at Neon Stingray, an app development company with offices in Sydney and Stockholm, and Account Manager at Groupon. Also, she is the Co-Founder of G-Tours, a startup that seeks to commercialize a mobile information platform for the tourism industry. Bhavneet holds a Master’s in Entrepreneurship and Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biotechnology, both from the University of Otago.
Can you tell us about your career in business development and account management and how they influenced you?
My educational background is actually scientific. I completed a degree in Molecular Biotechnology, but was more interested in the application and commercialization of the technology. I then took a course on Entrepreneurship, and was hooked.
Business development and account management are roles I fell into at the companies I worked for. I realised I enjoy seeking new opportunities for growth, finding ways to provide more value, and coming up with a way to make a deal work for both sides.
It often involves a great deal of persistence, empathy and creativity. I’m constantly learning and trying to improve these skills – the biggest thing I’ve learnt about sales is that it’s all about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s not always easy and sometimes I have to work really hard at it, but it’s always a worthwhile exercise to get the outcome that works for everyone.
How did you come to Co-Found GoSkills.com and what were the main challenges you faced at the outset?
I founded GoSkills based on an opportunity I saw whilst working at Groupon in Sydney, Australia. I noticed that online courses were selling like hot cakes on Groupon, and Excel courses were the top-selling products.
But I was appalled at the level of quality of these “online courses”. So I saw an opportunity to create high quality courses, and to use Groupon as a distribution channel. I partnered with some former colleagues in New Zealand, who created the technology behind GoSkills, and together, we embarked on this business.
The beginning of a startup is like an amorphous piece of clay – there are so many ways you can grow and shape it. The biggest challenge is to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, decide on a strategy, and execute on your strategy with clear focus.
Today, GoSkills boasts over 90,000 users and 50+ online courses. By launching with a known and tested distribution channel, we were able to profitably grow and bootstrap the business.
How does Go Skills plan to distinguish itself from its competitors?
Our goal from the outset was to provide high-quality courses. Part of that equation means researching and looking for the best instructors (we hand pick all our instructors) and then working with them to provide engaging and useful content. This means filtering a course to it’s most important components and delivering the content in short, “bite-sized” chucks – so the content remains engaging and to-the-point. I believe this process of handpicking instructors, performing strict quality control on all our content and delivering it in bite-sized pieces separates our courses from the rest.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing online learning companies?
I’m very interested to see how AI can play a role in education. We all had that one teacher that influenced us in some meaningful way, what if we could replicate that experience using artificial intelligence technology? I think there’s a massive opportunity to provide that experience for everyone – to have someone guide and mentor us throughout our lives would be hugely valuable.
Outside your work, what do you enjoy doing the most?
I love to travel. I love meeting new people, exploring new places, seeing different ways of living and gaining different perspectives on life. I’d love to take some time off to travel along the old Silk Road at some point in my life.
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
This will sound very clichéd, but without a doubt, the woman that has impacted my life the most is my Mum. She was a single Mum that raised 2 kids while working multiple jobs. She’s not perfect, but her strength, will and entrepreneurial spirit has definitely influenced my personality.
What advice do you have for individuals seeking to start education-related companies?
My advice for anyone seeking to start a company is to just do it. Start small and test often, until you find a fit that resonates with your users.
If you’re looking to start an education-related business, I think it’s really important to recognize that this space is very crowded, so really think about how you would stand out from the crowd, whether it be through content, technology, distribution channel or something else.
What are your favorite books, websites, films and/or resources?
My favorite movie is Forrest Gump – not because life is like a box of chocolates – but because it shows you that anything is possible in life! And that anyone can strive to achieve amazing things in life.
Otherwise, I love indulging in sci-fi books and movies and daydreaming about what the future will look like.