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How NegotiateUP.com is bringing top rung B-Schools closer to global community

Niraj Kumar, a Management Grad from MIT, recently developed, tested and  kickstarted a strong online education model – “NegotiateUP.com”, which is a platform for live seminars and training from professors, who are considered amongst the best in the world.

Apart from NegotiateUP.com, Kumar is also the founder of iDecisionGames and DecisionMapper.com. He leads a remoteFirst team of 150 people, converting new ideas into products for clients and for his own startups. Kumar was formerly a Vice President at Goldman Sachs.

In this interaction, Niraj Kumar speaks with Himanshu Manglik, Founder & President, WalnutCap Consulting LLP, on the concept behind NegotiateUP.com, bringing the experience of classes class at top US universities like Harvard, MIT, Wharton to students and corporate around the world, as well as India plans.

What is Negotiateup.com?

Negotiateup.com is a platform for live seminars and training from the world’s best professors. It creates specific workshops, or operates as an aggregator, depending on the need. It is an online opportunity for everyone who wants to acquire business skills. The target audience includes students, working managers and academicians.

Can you elaborate on the concept behind it?

Imagine the opportunity to experience what a class at Harvard, MIT, Wharton is like. You can now experience it via our platform. For example, a typical negotiation class will include some reading material about the topic, a role play video negotiation with a counterpart, where you are assigned a role (such as buyer) and you negotiate with a counterpart with the opposite role (seller). In addition, you have the benefit of a lecture from the professor explaining the topic, debriefing the results of your negotiation and personalised feedback comparing your performance to others who participated.

It seems to be an innovative concept. What triggered this concept in your mind?

Yes, definitely an innovation since live interaction online with top university professors hasn’t been tried before. I thought about it while attending business school at MIT and thought that it would be great for everyone to experience what classes at top universities were like.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously disrupted the economy and businesses. Do you think this is the right time to launch this platform?

The future will never be the same again, especially for the education industry, where marketing and product delivery is an immediate challenge. Even before the current crisis, the market had already started to change, and the education industry had started taking tentative steps to adapt. It was beginning to embrace technology, but only gradually. However, no industry could have built this COVID-19 pandemic scenario into their business continuity plans. The disruption is unprecedented and calls for strong innovations in education marketing that can effectively replace the face to face student-teacher engagement.

The challenge in education is really to add value that makes people more relevant as managers and entrepreneurs. Even though online education has been around for a while now, we have not been able to leverage it sufficiently. I believe that we have only been looking at the very basic product and functionality, rather than how the product can be modified to scale up on value addition. The pandemic has added urgency for people to innovate and we have been ahead of the curve. There is a strong and felt need for a platform like negotiateup.com, and this is the time when people will appreciate its real value. This platform brings live classes from the world’s best professors directly to everyone, using technology to run interactive role-plays/ simulations/ exercises for large classes, and experience what a class at Harvard, MIT, Wharton is like.

What differentiates you from other online courses that are already on offer?

Negotiateup.com goes beyond providing convenience and access like other online courses. Its differentiation is the authenticity of session delivery by professors from top rung business schools. It guarantees a high quality online product in a convenient format and module. It is a very powerful concept.

Can it be useful for corporates?

Corporates can leverage this platform to immense advantage. It opens up greater opportunities not just for existing management schools, faculty and students, but also for corporates to ramp up the resource base and move up their learning curves. They can leverage this platform to up-skill their employees and provide them training from the world’s best professors without incurring the high travel and time costs of going to these universities. The delivery can be tailored to requirements, depending on the discussions.

What’s your business model?

We are providing three options. First, monthly subscription to an existing calendar of sessions. Second, opportunity to register for individual sessions. Third, the flexibility to ask for tailored workshops and sessions.

Academic institutions can take an annual/ monthly membership and allow their students to use the resources or participate. For India, we are evaluating various pricing options. In addition, we are working on additional revenue streams, including building marketing simulations for academic institutions.

Do you have a tie-up with anyone in India?

We are in discussions for a local partner, who will anchor our business in India.

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