Life is a learning process. Higher education is often considered to be of great importance for better professional opportunities. But getting enrolled in an Ivy League school and other top institutes abroad sets students apart from the crowd. However, students are usually always in the dark about how to get through the admission process. And showing such students the light is a noble entrepreneurial idea.
The Channel 46 collaborated with Vibha Kagzi, the Founder & CEO of ReachIvy, who sheds light on how she lay the foundation of her entrepreneurial venture and shares smart tips and hacks for aspiring entrepreneurs to establish themselves and grow in the field.
1. What is your educational and professional background?
I hold an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science from Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania in the US. I have also pursued courses at the University of California (Berkeley), London School of Economics, Indian School of Business and Xavier’s Institute of Communications. Moreover, I am a certified Leadership Coach from Coach for Life, USA.
Professionally, I have worked in New York for BlackRock Securities, which is an asset management firm. I have contributed to my family business of fashion accessories and helped a California-based hedge fund set up their business in India before starting my own boutique education and careers advisory, ReachIvy.com, in 2011.
2. What prompted the idea for ReachIvy?
After finishing my MBA, I wanted to help students and working professionals achieve their best potential by helping them achieve their dreams of studying abroad, specifically at Ivy Leagues and other top-tier institutes, which do not offer commissions to agents to bring in students. Having had first-hand experience with the quality and standard of education offered at Ivy League institutes, I was determined to help others achieve it.
After I originally considered applying from Mumbai to a school abroad, I was riddled with questions regarding the application process and sorely lacked the much-needed guidance. The market was flooded with counsellors who were incentivised by commissions from various universities. No one was offering genuine, unbiased advice.
I established ReachIvy.com with the primary objective of providing simple and clear guidance regarding studying abroad and offering vocations from specialists for earning a degree from a top school.
I recognised that students who were applying abroad for higher education lacked the required know-how about the admission procedure. Since I faced the same situation myself once, I wanted to help students by guiding them on their educational journey.
3. Did you always know you wanted to work in this space?
Six months into my stint at BlackRock in New York, I realised that I wanted to be in a more human-centric role. Having experimented with various career fields, ReachIvy.com became the perfect amalgamation of all my skills and passions.
Being a career coach, an author and now a TedX speaker, my primary goal was to provide holistic guidance to young individuals who aspire to reach leading universities worldwide and set their career trajectories.
4. What was your first milestone and how did you get there?
My first milestone was my own admission to Harvard—a dream come true. Most naysayers around me had dismissed me and my dream. Hence, when I was able to make this dream my reality, I knew that if I could do it, so could others. They just needed the right guidance.
Next, I started guiding my family and friends on their educational journey abroad. With my help, a few of my cousins got into top-tiered institutes such as MIT, Harvard and the University of Michigan. That is when I realised that I had a knack for this, and I decided to start coaching students professionally.
When my first student got into MIT, it was truly a milestone achievement for me and my team. His family had emigrated from Bangladesh to India and were living in Bihar. For him, this admission meant freedom from the poverty trap that his family had been stuck in. From this point onwards, there was no looking back for me.
5. How long did it take you to monetise your venture? What was the turning point?
I monetised my venture with the first paid client. I kept costs very low initially and started with minimal resources.
6. What were the 3 best business/financial decisions you made?
- Keep costs low: Keep the costs low initially and try to employ minimal resources.
- Go digital: Try to establish a strong digital presence.
- Build a strong competitive advantage: Find out what is lacking in the industry and try to fill that niche.
7. What are your tips for an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to enter this space?
- Try to find your niche. Do your research and understand the demands and requirements of your industry.
- Surround yourself with individuals who will help and support you through thick and thin.
- Starting your own venture is a process, keep working and do not give up.
- Build a standard protocol/process for your business and ensure to implement and follow it religiously.
- Work with students, attend events and connect with the right education media. This will help you stay updated with the industry. Furthermore, keep up with the current events and daily news regarding the academic and educational industry.
6. Which networking groups and showcasing events could help an aspirant meet the right people and generate work opportunities in this field?
- Start by growing your network on social media, and use platforms like LinkedIn to meet and connect with like-minded individuals.
- Attend seminars and events that are targeted toward your field of work to generate work opportunities.
- Review what companies in your field are looking for and grow your skills to match them. With time, make yourself even better.
- However, also remember that every brand grows at its own pace and has different needs at different stages. Hence, I would recommend investing in a strong team, getting constant student feedback and focusing on diverse sectors to obtain a wholesome and bird’s eye view of your industry.
7. What are some investments one should be ready to make when entering the education consulting space?
I think time, hard work and patience are the key investments one makes when entering the education consulting space. You should be willing to go that extra mile every day to help students achieve their dreams. Most importantly, you should feel invested in your client and their success.
10. Tell us a little about the book you wrote, Break The MBA Code.
Having over a decade’s worth of experience in the education consulting industry, my book details everything that needs to be done to secure admission to an Ivy League or other top MBA program. I have included exclusive insights from admissions officers from 17 top global schools as well as sample resumes and essays of successful admits.
My book is published by Jaico Publishing House and provides details regarding the application process for top-tier institutes. Break the MBA Code gives you simple yet efficient guidelines to successfully execute your plans to reach your target college. It comprises numerous contextual analyses which give you insights into the application process.
Here are a few feedbacks and comments from my readers:
- This is an excellent guide for MBA aspirants, their friends and family, mentors and teachers. This book is written by Vibha Kagzi, founder/CEO of ReachIvy.com, who has spent many years helping MBA aspirants get into their dream college. Her important lessons and inputs are succinctly summarised in the guide. I am happy to buy and study this exceptional guide during the current week and think that everyone interested in top-class MBA education needs to have this guide. It will set you on the right track for your MBA preparations. It is an inexpensive guide and will provide you with invaluable insights. The title says “Break The MBA Code”.
- This book is incredibly helpful and detailed by the author who has over a decade’s worth of experience in the study abroad consulting space. With an MBA from Harvard herself, you can rest assured that this book will give you all that you need to achieve your dream admission to the best of schools. Every chapter is clearly titled and explains the entire admissions process from start to finish. As the author mentions, her secrets truly are yours now. She ardently wants to help students with their MBA applications. This will be a go-to book for MBA aspirants globally. The book is available on Amazon and in leading bookstores in India.
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