Ankit Durga – The mind behind Leap Skills
Born and raised in Dehradoon, Ankit Durga is the mastermind behind the innovative strategy building and technology-based startup – Leap Skills. He is an alumnus of the Doon School. He has completed his bachelor’s from Shaheed Sukhdev college of business studies affiliated to Delhi University.
Being an INK fellow member, he has been a youth representative for Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Program. Before co-founding Leap Skills, Ankit used to work in managerial roles for different corporate offices such as Ernst & Young, and startups such as Zomato and Happily Unmarried from where he acquired significant insights into the startup work culture that he translates into his work today.
Leap Skills is a skill training partner which has tie-ups with government clients and independent institutions. Leap Skills helps to provide adequate skills to job aspirants from tier-2 and tier -3 cities in India who are not equipped with enough resources and essential skills to secure and sustain 21st-century jobs today.
Leap Skills claims to be working closely with over 45,000 students since 2013; They also claim to have created highly engaging employability programs that equip students with soft skills and prepares them for lifelong success.
Check out the Leap Skills platform here.
In the interview with TimesNext, Ankit Durga shares the inspiration behind his startup – Leap Skills. He explained how his upbringing was quite modest, which made him value the exposure and opportunities he received at his school.
He could see the dramatic difference between him and his peers back home and attributed that difference to the quality of his education.
This blunt contrast made him realize that the exposure and opportunity should not be a function of where one is born, a realization that inspired him to start working with students outside tier-1 cities to help them achieve their career aspirations.
Challenges faced by the startup
In the interview, Ankit also shared the challenges he had to face during his startup’s journey out of which the major ones were:
- To design the interventions for addressing the needs of under-resourced students.
- Several of Ankit and his partner Megha’s initial ideas and notions were heavily contested and often reworked.
- Partner institutions operated with a high degree of bureaucracy, making it challenging to implement interventions, more so for Ankit, who was 23 at the time and was learning how to navigate such situations skilfully.
Collaborations and experiences
The startup claims to have collaborated with a raft of mentors, advisors, and global accelerators, such as the coveted GSBI accelerator, to help them drive impact sustainably and at scale.
According to them, the experience with each new collaboration is unique, adds value, and a fresh perspective. But what grows stronger is the belief that India’s education inequity and employability problems are massive and layered, problems that are nearly impossible to solve alone.
Growth and Achievements
According to Ankit Durga, their first milestone was when their first batch of students successfully graduated from the E4E (Education for Employability) program in 2014-15 which included a reserved young student, Meenakshi. Before E4E, an interview panel from a top consultancy clearly stated that Meenakshi would not be able to secure a job at their company. Following the program, Meenakshi not only secured the position but also has been steadily rising the ranks within the same organization for the past five years and was recently promoted to the manager position.
While there have been many like her over the years, they still fondly remember her story as they can recall that palpable feeling of joy when efforts paid dividends for the very first time. Her story is an excellent example of how persistence and grit, combined with the right education and skills, can prepare one for lifelong success.
From the past seven years, Leap Skills claims to have trained a staggering 45,000 students from under-resourced communities. Leap Skills is now moving from a traditional brick-and-mortar business enabled by technology to one that is tech-led and poised for rapid scale.
Leap Skills has also closed funding from Swiss institutional investor Alea Foundation, which, according to them, is a partnership that brings with it immensely valuable and diverse global perspectives.
Leap Skills endeavors to be the front-runner of skills-based hiring through a scientific, unbiased, and equitable approach. According to the Leap Skills team, from the past seven years, they are working on four critical areas tied to overcoming the overall employability challenge: Awareness, Agency, Ability, and Access, and has set up ancillary organizations to tackle this broader goal collectively.
Leap Skills’s nonprofit organization “IABT foundation” claims to work with rural demographics to improve career awareness and agency to drive decisions amongst job seekers.
Leap actively works to build student ability, and according to them, their new vertical “Skillr” closes the loop by providing job seekers access to high quality, verified jobs.