By Puja Gupta
January 14, 2021 (IANSlife) Launched during the lockdown by three IIT alumni, FrontRow is an online platform that provides comprehensive skill-based courses, taught by celebrities in different categories.
Bollywood singer Neha Kakkar, comedian Biswa Kalyan Rath Indian cricketers Yuzvendra Chahal and Suresh Raina among others have been roped in to take masterclasses to help a community of passionate users learn and grow together through activities, events, workshops and competitions.
The start-up has also managed to get Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone as one of its investors.
IANSlife speaks to Ishaan Preet Singh who co-founded the company along with Mikhil Raj and Shubhadit Sharma, to know more about it and the courses it offers.
How did you come up with the idea of FrontRow? Tell us more about this learning platform?
Singh: We were working on a different problem in edtech – helping engineering students in tier 3 and 4 colleges get better jobs. However, as we spent time with college students we realised that their interest and excitement actually was not in engineering. It was way more in areas beyond engineering such as rap, singing, comedy and cricket.
There are hundreds of companies solving for better technical education, which is of course a big need, but the gap in this area resonated with us deeply. We also realised it is a space that has not been solved for either offline or online which has made the gap only deeper.
How did you get Deepika Padukone as an investor?
Singh: Deepika was really excited by the market and the team. She was always excited about categories beyond academics when she was growing up and has seen these problems first hand.
Can you take us through the categories and how did you manage to sign such big names like Neha Kakkar, Suresh Raina?
Singh: Our current categories include cricket, singing, music, rap and comedy. An interesting learning was that whenever we would speak with celebrities they would instantly relate to the problem since they’ve faced it themselves while building their careers. They often did not have access to mentors or high quality resources that could help them learn, and now that they are successful, they want to give back.
For a layperson looking for a career in music, singing or cricket or stand-up comedy, how will FrontRow’s Masterclass with celebrities help them?
Singh: The courses will help them in two ways – one you’ll get better at your passion since you’ll get theory, examples and tips and tricks directly from the instructors whether it’s how Neha Kakkar learnt the ins and outs of music or how Suresh Raina thinks of a batting stance. Beyond this, you will also learn the essentials of building a career in those categories and what are the points that really matter.
Can we expect a Masterclass on non-conventional career choices like being a stylist or an influencer, chef, make-up artists etc?
Singh: We are working on expanding categories over the next 6-12 months and you will definitely see more categories launching including more sports and rap and music.
Are you looking to cater to millennials? Who all do you think will benefit from this platform?
Singh: Our audience is primarily 16-35 years old but interestingly it is spread across geographically and socio-economically. The problems are very broadly applicable and common! We have people from over 100 cities already learning on FrontRow and more than half our learners come from outside the top 10 cities.
You launched FrontRow in May 2020 during the peak of COVID-19. How did the pandemic help you?
Singh: 2020 was a breakout year for online education especially in terms of number of first users. A massive number of people across age groups took their first online course, their first zoom call or their first online exercise class. It's moved the sector forward by a few years for sure, especially since learners now recognise that some things can just be done better online, such as learning from their idols or the absolute best teachers.
Every entrepreneur faces a few roadblocks and challenges. How has your journey been so far?
Singh: It’s a new market and a new opportunity so it of course took us some convincing to get people on board, but we’ve been lucky to have great investors and a great team supporting the vision!
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Puja Gupta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org