W Power 2024

Anupam Pedarla and Sashank Reddy Gujjula: Bridging the gap

Anupam Pedarla and Sashank Reddy Gujjula had stepped out to find suitable team members for their project, instead they found a problem. Bridging the gap between academia and industry with NxtWave Disruptive Technologies, the duo is making careers of young students

Jasodhara Banerjee
Published: Feb 26, 2024 12:55:25 PM IST
Updated: Feb 26, 2024 01:29:59 PM IST

Anupam Pedarla and Sashank Reddy Gujjula: Bridging the gap(From left) Anupam Pedarla, co-founder and COO, and Sashank Reddy, co-founder and head of student experience, NxtWave. Image: Mexy Xavier; Directed By: Kapil Kashyap; ANUPAM - Outfit: NM Design Studio, Shay Studio; Jewellry: Drip Project; SASHANK - Outfit: Ashay New Delhi; Jewellry: Inox Jewellery; Styled By: Zainab Shakir; Assistant Stylists: Mannat Bhalla, Samridh Gupta

Anupam Pedarla | 29
Sashank Reddy | 27
Co-founders, NxtWave

Anupam Pedarla, Sashank Reddy Gujjula and Rahul Attuluri (32) met while working at their first jobs at a startup incubator in Hyderabad, where they were working to build student relations. As part of their job role, Pedarla and Gujjula would go to tier 2 and 3 colleges to create awareness among the students about the latest technologies, the skills they should be acquiring and entrepreneurship, recalls Gujjula.

What they gained in return was an on-ground understanding of the challenges that these students face. For instance, in 2018-19, while hiring for a few tech roles, they visited several colleges and realised that there was a wide gap between the standards that companies were expecting from the freshers and the preparedness of the applicants.

“It was surprising for us because back then we were a little removed from reality. We realised that the students have a great potential to do something better, and all they need is a proper bridge between industry and academia,” says Pedarla. “That’s when we thought of starting something like NxtWave.”
Anupam Pedarla and Sashank Reddy Gujjula: Bridging the gap
None of them had any prior experience as founders, and being graduates of reputable colleges did help get the core team in place. “We were also able to get a buy-in for the vision that we’re trying to build with very talented and closely associated people. So, initially, when the team is well aligned with the mission and the vision, it solves 50 percent of the challenge,” he adds.
Anupam Pedarla and Sashank Reddy Gujjula: Bridging the gap
NxtWave offers transformative learning experiences that empower learners for high-demand roles in technology innovative, vernacular, cohort-based tech courses. “We try to understand what companies are expecting from the students and align the curriculum to that. So we coined a term called reverse-engineered curriculum,” says Pedarla. Taking a community-first outlook, they had between 1.5 lakh and 2 lakh students on their WhatsApp groups even before making their first sale. This approach has also helped NxtWave be cash-flow positive throughout its journey. In the last three years, NxtWave has helped close to 1,700 companies hire their tech talent and is in touch with more than 3,000 companies across India and other countries. They aim to produce 1 million job-ready new-age developers every year.

Click here for Forbes India 30 Under 30 list 2024

In December 2021, NxtWave raised $2.8 million from Orios Capital, Ingest, Better Capital and angel investors, followed by a funding round in February2023, in which it raised around $33 million. “Greater Pacific Capital invested $30 million in NxtWave in a single round in early 2023, along with the company’s existing investors who invested about $3 million,” says Nandan Desai, managing director and co-head of India, Greater Pacific Capital. “India has a big skills and employability gap. NxtWave has built a great platform to address this gap by training students with skills they need to get tech jobs, and rather than focusing on the narrow premium end of the market they focus on students from lower tier colleges and inner India. It’s far more difficult to do but it has a much bigger impact.”

Post Your Comment
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated