WhiteHat Jr: Preparing Children For The Future
People expect tech entrepreneurs to be young, inexperienced, and eager characters, figuring out a way to bring value to the masses.
But not all of them fit that description, and some take different paths: life journeys focused on gaining skills and experience through building successful careers, exploring different segments of the world, while gaining wisdom and spirituality.
The best example for this kind of person is Karan Bajaj, an Indian entrepreneur and best-selling author, who in 2020 sold his one-year-old start-up for $300 million - the largest buyout of an educational tech company.
Karan's success is not marked only by that one sale - he's also the founder of WhiteHat Jr, a meditation guru, yoga master, respected CEO, and loving husband.
His way of navigating through life is starting to get adopted by many, especially in the technology sector where the lightspeed rate of progress is hard to keep track of.
So, let's dive into Karan's journey, and how it got him to a point where the world talks about it!
The First Step on The Yellow Brick Road
Young Karan showed vast differences from other children: he didn't have just one favorite hero, nor a favorite profession for when he grew up. He was equally curious about everything, from taking toys apart to see how they work, to asking endless questions about the intricacies of the world we live in.
After graduating high school in India he enrolled in the Birla Institute of Technology to study mechanical engineering. With a natural talent for engineering, he finished on time, getting his bachelor's degree in 2000. He was unsure if he wanted to be just an engineer, so he decided to expand his knowledge and competencies. In 2001, he got his masters in business administration, marketing, and strategy from the Indian Institute of Management, taking the first giant step of his unbelievable life's journey.
The Start of a Career
Graduating in the top 10% of his class gave him more options for the start of his career. So in 2002, he got his first job as an assistant brand manager at Procter and Gamble, a company producing consumer products for various uses, covering everything from personal hygiene and skincare, to household and laundry.
His brilliance was immediately noticed by everyone around him as his ideas showed results right away, helping him climb up the ranks, making him Brand Manager in 2005. Over the next three years, he excelled at his new position. In 2008, he won a place in the Top 40 Under 40 US Executives list. He received a bonus from the company in the form of shares.
However, success and money didn't really make him happy. Karan had another, bigger problem - he didn't know how to discover the source of his happiness. He decided to go on sabbatical to cleanse his thoughts and find his new calling.
The First Rebirth
His first sabbatical lasted six months, during which he traveled across Europe and South America with just a backpack. Meeting people and experiencing different cultures additionally fortified his beliefs of a borderless planet, heavily influencing his future work.
When Karan got back, he felt so transformed that he had to share his experience, and writing a book seemed like the right way to do it.
In August 2008, he published his first book called Keep off the Grass. It was an instant hit, so much so that the screening rights were immediately bought by the same group that made Christofer Nolan's Batman movies.
In September, he joined the Boston Consulting Group as a management consultant - it wasn't what he was looking for and he felt somewhat depressed. A year later, he quit and started working on his second book.
The new book named Johnny Gone Down was the turning point in his life. It became so famous, it's now considered an Indian classic and there's an upcoming movie based on it.
Now aged 30 and still without a clue about what he wants to do with his life, Karan was beyond stressed out, and wrote down his deepest thoughts in his book, which helped him figure out which path he wanted to take. So in 2010, he joined Kraft Group as a marketing director for the children sector. He immediately brought success to the company and managed to double the business in less than 2 years.
The Second Rebirth
In 2012, Karan wanted to cleanse his spirit once again and look for a new passion, so he decided to go on a second sabbatical.
Together with his wife, he traveled by road from Europe to India. When they arrived in his motherland, they became yoga teachers training in the Sivananda Ashram, and later learning the secrets of meditation from Himalayan monks.
After the year-long sabbatical, he returned and got a job as Senior Marketing Director for Kraft Foods Group, where after working for 2 years he again decided to dive back into his spirituality and write a new book.
Once his third book was done and published as 'The Yoga of Max's Discontent', Karan joined the Discovery Networks' South Asia group in 2016, where he tested different methods of educating children through media.
After working on that problem for two years, Karan had it: to maximize effectiveness, you must add the personal tutoring moment!
From Idea to Product
In February 2019, he got the idea for WhiteHat Jr, an app that allowed children to have 1 on 1 classes on different subjects, with tutors specialized in interactive learning.
Through his exploits as a manager for big companies, Karan made a lot of connections. He decided to use them to get the funding he needed, which allowed him to open his first company in less than a month.
The WhiteHat Jr app was created as a response to the fear of AI technology taking over most jobs, leaving people unemployed, lost, and without tech skills. The app uses the best tutors in the world to teach children how to program computers, giving them tasks like making games and animations and fueling their logical and creative parts of the brain starting from age 6.
Karan's vast experience in managing big projects contributed to a quick and clean realization of his idea, allowing him to finish the app by mid-2019.
From Product to $150 Million
The same day WhiteHat Jr was released, children all over India began using it for at least an hour every day. As more and more students registered, Karan had to drastically increase the number of tutors. By the end of 2019, WhiteHat Jr had more than 3,000 tutors teaching at least 3 classes per day to 400,000 students.
The main reason for the quick success was Karan's fellowship program, where the students that made the best games/programs are taken to Silicon Valley where they meet famous entrepreneurs, while also receiving $15,000 in funding from WhiteHat Jr to try and scale their idea.
When Karan decided to join the US market at the beginning of 2020, he had an open road ahead of him. Although the COVID pandemic blasted the economy, his app was doubling its users every month. The thirst for education didn't stop and by June, Karan already set the plans for expanding all over the globe.
A month and a half later, in what turned out to be very short negotiations, WhiteHat Jr, was sold to Indian ed-tech giant Byju's for $300 million, half of which went to Karan.
Karan, now a millionaire, will probably repeat his previously-successful process and take another sabbatical before starting a new venture. Meanwhile, his creation is in the good hands of the $5 billion entity helping millions of students finish their studies with flying colors.
The story of Karan and specifically WhiteHat Jr bears a simple message - if you want to be a 'serial entrepreneur', find a process that works, learn, and make your move. Rinse, and repeat!