While most students dream of a medical, technical or legal profession when they are in school, Ankur Pandey of Madhya Pradesh always knew that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. Coming from a family of engineers, however, Pandey robotically chose to take a non-medical course after grade 10 and at the same time began his preparation for the Joint Entrance Examination for Engineering (JEE). His interest in physics prevented him from preparing and his entrepreneurial dream faded into the background.
“I was an average student at school. So it was a distant dream to get into an IIT, but I worked really hard to qualify for the JEE. As a result, although I was able to pass the entrance exam, I barely passed my grade 12,” Pandey said.
A native of Bhopal, Pandey completed his education in the same city and prepared himself for JEE on his own. In 2011, he approved JEE, but he took some time to choose between a better institute and a course.
“Before coming to a final decision, I consulted with my family members, teachers and even former IITians about which university or course to choose. Most of them suggested to prefer an institute to a branch and so I came to IIT-Kharagpur to study industrial and systems engineering,” said Pandey.
“Within a few weeks of joining IIT, I knew I had made the right decision. The campus had a vibrant environment with supportive faculty and seniors. The institute had a business club where budding entrepreneurs discussed ideas and co-founded many start-ups. The dream that I had set aside to pursue engineering then got a platform and I started doing an internship at various start-ups from the first year,” he added.
After working as an intern and consultant at many companies, Pandey launched his own ed-tech start-up, Quesky, in the third year of his studies. This was when he realized his passion for entrepreneurship and by the fourth year of his studies he made the decision to drop out of college and work full time on his edtech startup.
“I was sure of my decision to stop. However, this did not sit well with my family. They chased me to further my education while working on the start-up at the same time. But my decision was made and I stopped my engineering career in 2014,” he explains.
In 2015, he closed his ed-tech startup and co-founded a fintech brand Signzy, where he was given the confidence to build a software team from scratch. Signzy is a provider of video KYC and digital new customer onboarding solutions for banks, insurance companies and other businesses in the new economy.
As the founder of two start-ups without any professional degree, Pandey believes that one’s passion and skills are more useful than their education.
“To those preparing for JEE or any other entrance exam, I will suggest that you choose an institution that will give you the right exposure to brush up on your skills. In today’s tech-savvy world, getting an education isn’t a difficult task, but building connections will help you in the long run. This can only be achieved if you end up in a prominent institution,” he emphasized.