Swayam Analytics is a leader in personality assessments that combine Vedic knowledge with modern psychometric methodology.
The founder, Shilpa Datar, has a personal journey of overcoming obstacles and is dedicated to empowering others with mental well-being.
They help individuals find a career path aligned with their skills and interests and assist HR professionals in building high-performing teams. Their assessments provide insights into personality, improve self-awareness, enhance team performance, and aid in effective stress management.
Let’s delve into Shilpa’s journey to better understand.
YC: Good morning, Shilpa; welcome to Yellow Chapter. Today, we aim to learn more about you, your life experiences, and your choices. Additionally, we’d like to understand Swayam analytics better.
Shilpa: I grew up in Bangalore and attended NMKRV College for pre-university studies with a science major. Although I initially aspired to become a doctor like my father, a physiotherapist, I eventually decided to pursue architecture instead.
Despite facing challenges securing a seat in Bangalore, I eventually enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts program. While engineering and law were the most common career paths in India at the time, I chose to pursue my passion for architecture despite the obstacles. Eventually, I had to settle for a BSc. program since all engineering seats in Bangalore had already been filled.
1988 – 1991 – After struggling with chemistry during my BSc. the program, I sought guidance from Prof. Chi. Na. Mangala, the principal of NMKRV College. She suggested a new field combining English literature, Psychology, and Journalism. Sitting in on classes, I discovered my passion for psychology and literature and switched to a BA program with Professor Mangala’s support. Thanks to her guidance, I found my true calling in psychology.
YC: Shilpa, based on your journey of discovering your true calling in psychology, what advice would you like to give students?
Shilpa: Sure, some of the suggestions would be:
- Chasing Your Dreams: Your dreams define your path and your happiness. While parents often have a say in decision-making, negotiating and communicating your dreams with them is important. Keeping your dream as your North Pole can help you achieve your goals and lead a fulfilling life.
- Self-Awareness for Choosing a Fulfilling Career: It is crucial to identify yourself, what you enjoy, and what excites you. This self-awareness can help you choose a career that you love and will keep you enthusiastic.
- Find the right profession: It’s important to pursue a career that truly excites you, that makes you eager to jump out of bed every morning and run out to work. This enthusiasm can transform your job into something more than just a means of earning a paycheck – it can become your vocation. When you identify your passion and align your career with it, you’ll feel more fulfilled, engaged, and energised in your work. So, take the time to explore what excites you and pursue it with all your heart.
- Reassessing Your Career: Regularly evaluate your career and ask yourself if it is still fulfilling and exciting. If not, it may be time to pivot to a new job or path that aligns with your current interests and passions.
- Gain Competitive Advantage: Seize the opportunities of internships, volunteer work, and other experiences to gain relevant experience in your field of interest. These experiences can help you develop a robust network and build an impressive resume, making you a strong candidate for job opportunities after graduation.
YC – Can we discuss your professional roadmap and learnings?
Shilpa: 1988 – 2003 -: Masters Psychology
In 1997-98, when my son was diagnosed with dyslexia, it became a turning point for me. I wanted to provide him with the best education and opportunities, but I found a lack of information on dyslexia at that time.
To support my son and gain more knowledge, I enrolled in a master’s program in psychology. During our master’s program, we primarily relied on books written by Western authors. I discovered that Western psychology mainly focused on clinical settings and the study of abnormal behaviour, providing limited assistance. It seemed restricted to specific populations.
In contrast, Ayurveda and Yoga offered valuable insights into the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of ordinary individuals and provided ways to restore balance.
To learn more about Dyslexia, I joined Deepika School for Special Needs in South Bangalore, where I conducted assessments. I noticed that the existing tests we used were adapted from foreign sources and not standardised for our students. This inspired me to develop and standardize tests specifically tailored to the Indian population.
In 2003, I delved into Ayurveda and Yoga, ancient traditions with a history of over 5000 years. Self-funding my research, I created a universally applicable psychological framework with feedback from experts.
I enrolled in a PhD program in Psychology where I developed personality tests based on Tridosha and Triguna concepts. These tests gained recognition with a reliability rate of 0.92 and resulted in 16 scientific publications in international journals.
Additionally, I developed an online software known as the Swayam Personality Assessment to make the test accessible to a wider audience. However, handling tech was not easy for me as it was not my area of expertise. Unfortunately, I experienced personal hardships following the loss of my husband, and I decided to put the project on hold.
During that time, I pursued teaching opportunities at the Hindu University of America and Bishop Cotton’s Women’s Christian College.
Now, closely observing the gap in the market and having a strong belief in my research, we have restarted our journey – Swayam Analytics – Psychometric Personality Assessment Platform.
YC: What is Swayam Analytics? What’s its ICP? What is your marketing and sales strategy?
Shilpa: Swayam Analytics is a specialised platform that employs the Vedic knowledge system to understand human behaviour, mind, and body. Its tests are based on sources such as Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga, Ayurveda, and Puranas. It’s worth noting that Swayam Analytics is not linked to any religion or spirituality, and its focus is solely on human behaviour, mind, and body.
The tests are developed using modern psychometric methodologies combined with the Indian knowledge system base, evaluating individuals on psychological and ethical aspects of human behaviour. This approach makes Swayam’s tests unique in comparison to other psychometric tests available. Furthermore, the tests are user-friendly, with multiple-choice questions that can be answered in 15 mins.
TAM – The global market size is around 18 to 20 billion, signifying its tremendous potential. However, we have deliberately decided to concentrate solely on the Indian market. This decision is driven by the sheer size and opportunities presented by the Indian market, as well as the personal factor that I reside here.
ICP – We cater to two distinct groups of customers:
– The first category comprises high school students and above who have been facing significant stress due to the pandemic. To address this, we developed the Personality Development Analysis report, which helps them better understand themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and their stress levels.
– The second category of students includes those in undergraduate courses. We assist them in understanding their enabling and inhibiting traits, which they can leverage during campus placements and while writing their statement of purpose for higher education abroad.
- We work in the area of talent assessment for recruitment as well as with organizations to identify the potential of their existing employees for career progression, role transition, succession planning etc.
Marketing – Currently, our approach involves visiting schools and colleges to onboard students. However, we have also recently started exploring digital marketing through organic and paid channels, although it is still in its early stages.
We have also partnered with Govt of Karnataka’s KSDC on their Skill Connect portal which is great exposure for us and our work.
Our target audience is mainly colleges and HR departments, who primarily use LinkedIn for professional networking and hiring. However, despite our efforts, we have not observed significant engagement on the platform. Additionally, while our students are consuming video content, our marketing focus remains on LinkedIn.
Clients – We have conducted assessments for over 10,000 individuals. Initially, we offered our services for free to a select group of students and gathered feedback to assess their usefulness. To establish credibility, I leveraged my credentials, such as my PhD and life experience, to earn the trust of school principals and management.
After demonstrating the effectiveness of our platform through assessments, the schools became eager to adopt our services. We currently partner with 8 to 9 schools and plan to continue these collaborations in the future. One of them is situated in Coimbatore, a couple can be found in Delhi, and most are located in Bangalore.
-We have experience working with companies like Homag International and Magickwoods , Andhra Pradesh Police Housing Corporation, Karnataka Government’s Skill Connect portal where we are partnered with them to offer psychometric assessments. Now, we aim to expand our client base for top-level recruitment. Our expertise lies in employee engagement, where we offer group assessments to identify training needs and areas for development. Deshpande Startups has already benefited from our services. Our reports boast an impressive accuracy rate of 80-85%, one of the highest globally.
Initial challenges –
After offering free services to the first few customers, we realised that Indian knowledge systems, such as Veda, Upanishads, or Gita, did not interest people. We struggled to promote our services in India, as people would not listen to us if we mentioned these topics. However, marketing our services outside India proved successful, as people were eager to purchase them.
We learned that the Indian audience was not receptive to any topic related to Indian knowledge systems, so we revamped our website, removing any mention of Vedas or related topics. We democratised and sanitised the content to appeal to a broader audience, briefly mentioning our genesis as we realised that we could not solely rely on promoting our services based on Indian knowledge systems.
Funding – When we started, we were entirely bootstrapped, but we were able to receive a small seed fund from Startup India Seed Fund through JSS STEP, Noida.
Target – Our goal for the next six months is to have a minimum of 25 schools and colleges on our platform, and we aim to work with around 20,000 to 25,000 students during that time.
Competition – While competitors like The Myers & Briggs Foundation , Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors and The Big Five Personality Test, have a larger presence, many of them are irrelevant in the Indian market.
Our product offers superior accuracy and comprehensiveness. To compete with them, we are focusing on targeted sales and marketing efforts.
YC: What are the five common problems that teenagers in India’s face, based on your close work with them?
Shilpa: Common Problems:
1. Lack of Clarity about Career Goals – Many Indian teenagers struggle to determine their career goals, often making choices based on external influences rather than their own passions. Medicine and Engineering are commonly seen as the default career option.
2. Proactive Approach: Teenagers should actively explore various career options to find their true passion. Choosing careers based on societal pressure or defaults can lead to dissatisfaction and lack of success in the long term.
3. Short Attention Span and Lack of Expertise: Students tend to have short attention spans and rely heavily on superficial information from technology. However, to excel in their careers, they need to develop a deep understanding through dedicated study and practice.
4. Stress and Mental Health: Academic pressure, competition for college admissions, and career prospects contribute to high levels of stress among teenagers. This stress often leads to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, there is a lack of sufficient support and guidance for students struggling with their mental well-being.
5. Lack of Connectedness: Modern society is becoming more disconnected, with decreased meaningful interactions. It is important to identify and support at-risk students affected by this lack of connectedness. Rebuilding the community and fostering compassion are essential for promoting the overall well-being of teenagers.
YC: What are the top three suggestions you would offer fellow founders based on your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Shilpa: Suggestions :
1. To achieve product-market fit, my top suggestion is to become an industry expert. Relying on others for help is not a reliable approach. With over 22 years of experience in this field, I can confidently handle client inquiries. This level of expertise brings an unmatched level of authority.
2. Understanding the market and its problems is crucial, alongside expertise. Without knowledge of the issues, overcoming them becomes challenging. Qualifications can provide credibility to your perspective, enhancing your ability to address market challenges effectively.
3. Having a co-founder who specialises in areas where you lack expertise, such as tech, sales, marketing, or fundraising, can be immensely beneficial. Without such expertise, navigating these areas can be a real struggle.
Book Recommendation: I am a big fan of the Bhagavad Gita – something I read daily. Just two verses from it can help me maintain a sense of grounding and centeredness
For aspiring entrepreneurs, I would recommend the following must-read books:
The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore.
@ My Family
Our conversation was genuinely enlightening, Shilpa. Thank you for generously sharing your knowledge with us. We look forward to seeing your continued achievements in the future!