Vaave re-builds bonds for a reason

The men behind Vaave  

HYDERABAD: From borrowing extra space from the NGO they’d worked for together to owning Vaave, an alumni portal that facilitates relations of students from 300 plus universities in the country, Paresh Masade and Sanjeev Kosaraju have come a long way in five years. Their portal now helps institutions build a strong alumni network in a Facebook-like interface, i.e. in terms of the easiness to access. Here, former students get to do everything from going nostalgic about their past banter to referring others for jobs, plan reunions, raise funds and stay updated through newsletters about their campus, all in an organised manner.

How more organised? The eight-member team is ready with an answer. “Within a site, there are specific divisions based on location, batches, event-based, job-based, fund-based needs. Even if you want to interact with all of them in totality, there’s a provision for a tweak too. An equal emphasis has been set on the flexibility aspect,” says Paresh.

Their work on the product was going at a slow pace and it was justified, realising that people needed time to open up to such an idea. “Only when we saw some progress, we could move ahead. It took time to see that and now, we nearly sign up nine institutions a month. When an institution agrees to our idea, they discuss the imminent and practical goals, which depending on our experience of travelling across the country, we too give suggestions,” he reveals.

The institutions where a student studies bring about a special connect in ensuring communication and the patterns have been intriguing, as Sanjeev says, “We have records of CEOs and other significant personalities, from S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, University of Mysore, who don’t access the social media much. It was surprising for us to see a lot of them interact regularly on the portals that we’ve built.”

Users can directly sign up on their institution sites using regular email ids, without the need of a new domain. There are site administrators present at various levels to ensure constructive interaction from the users. Without compromise on privacy and user security, the inclusion of features like setting up a merchandise store for an event, the monthly newsletters, the possibility of branding, building of photo albums does raise eyebrows about the widespread use of the portal.

How long can all this be pulled off? How is the communication gap reduced? “Our contact with institution is sometimes on an hourly basis, weekly and stretching on to a monthly one too. Any concern and addition they have, they will directly report to us and ensure the evaluation is consistent. It’s a challenge for our team when they talk of integrating a new idea of theirs within a stipulated deadline,” Paresh states.

“People are not exactly aware of how powerful alumni relations can be in the country’s educational sector. The quality and infrastructural issues (mostly monetary) that exist in schools, colleges and universities can get such firm solutions if they come together,” Sanjeev feels, confessing that monetising and building a profitable business around the area and convincing authorities on the need of managing the network over time are their biggest challenges.

Most of the institutions they’ve visited are desirous of noticing the benefits on a prior note, for the investment. “Including education loans and scholarships to students for research and student projects, the network can be immensely useful in preparing a curriculum design, easing them in the admission process, mentoring besides institute development,” says Sanjeev.

What makes this more difficult? “The results won’t reflect on an immediate basis. Most of the younger schools or colleges take a lot of time to realise this. A lucky aspect for us has been through word of mouth,” he adds. They’ve never imposed the contract upon the places they’ve been, which has indeed worked for them.

For the future, they’re looking at building corporate alumni networks, once they’ve proved their mettle fully in the education sector.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 10:34:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/an-online-alumni-portal-a-product-of-paresh-and-sanjeevs-consistent-efforts-has-helped-institutions-build-a-strong-organised-network-of-former-students/article7677675.ece

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