In the third part of the series, entrepreneurs of NUJS, we speak to Ramanuj Mukherjee, co-founder and CEO of ipleaders that is celebrated as India's largest and most respected online legal education provider. An entrepreneur who humbly introduces himself as an underdog, who is prepared to slog all day and make up for what he describes his 'lack of' talent with his sheer dedication and hardwork. An entrepreneur whom his friends describe as a 'fighter', who cares with all his heart and never gives up!
From being convinced to prepare for the medical entrances and JEE, he finally chose to pursue law over the other career options he had earlier considered. This decision is seen to have been mainly influenced by the speech given by Sachin Malhan of LST at St Xavier's college, Kolkata whose charisma is said to have inspired Ramanuj and had changed his approach and perspective towards life and law. The declaration of pursuing law as a career by Ramanuj though got his parents into a fix, where they were finally left with the option of allowing him pursue law or watch him move out of his house, study English literature and offer tuitions. "Yes I am a very stubborn person! I will go to any length to get what I want and it gives me a huge competitive advantage", he said commenting on the instance.Finally, all the efforts paid off as he secured admission into NUJS.
Talking about the role of NUJS in his life he credits the university for making him from a ‘naive small town boy’ to an ambitious, confident professional who had an access to understanding how the world works. According to Ramanuj, those five years he spent in college were the most painful as well as the most productive and formative years of his life. As a learner he talks about how he learnt more outside the classroom than inside of them. He also credits the sociology and economics courses in NUJS for changing his worldview and for teaching him as to how to question the status quo. He adds that studying at NUJS made him grittier and gave him much needed experiences that he is now thankful for.
The idea of ipleaders is said to have crossed his mind when he was sitting in a third year classroom and he came up with the name when he was idly shifting through a CPC bare act. In his fourth year, along with Abhyuday he started a legal risk management consultancy and named it iPleaders where they worked as legal risk management consultants and networked a lot. He believes that the challenging part at that point in time was that not too many people were willing to trust law students who were yet to graduate with serious matters but they took on the challenge head on and started the iPleaders blog back then.
The moment of validation came when they received their first 10 lakhs from their entrepreneurial venture. But the next obstacle they faced was that with respect to staffing where they found that a lot of people weren’t willing to work with them and where one or two people joined and immediately left. The hiring of the first salaried employee outside the partners was according to Ramanuj, quite a high point.
Recounting a very fond memory, Ramanuj talks about the time he went to IIT Kharagpur to conduct a 6 hour corporate finance workshop on a Sunday where he expected a small turnout of 20-30 people but to his surprise a crowd of 300+ people, with some waiting outside the door had turned up. He describes that incident with utmost joy and pride, as one of those moments where he was ‘mind blown’ and felt in realtime the importance of learning law even in an engineering college.
He believes that when one makes a good online course, people from all over the world look up for them and sign up for the same. He also adds that people who utilise the course include those who are in active military duty, foreign mandarins, IAS officers and even sitting judges and describes it as a truly incredible part of the activity.
Talking about law as a career he adds that the field is changing but also at the same time getting more exciting and competitive than ever. ‘The price of walking down the beaten path is going up, and there are too many blue ocean opportunities that you should not ignore. There are very tall problems to solve that nobody is even touching today. Lawyers who can bring innovation to the legal industry will succeed beyond their wildest dreams. It is not difficult, just get started somewhere. Take baby steps but take those steps. Get started. Don't start big, start small. The universe reveals its plans for you when you take those steps with courage and passion.’ he added when asked about the words of advice he would like to give to law students.