In 2005, Piyali Chatterjee Ghosh pursued her dream as a flight attendant. His only plan then was to try for his job and to seek promotions at international airlines. Entrepreneurship was not on her mind until she became part of the training department and identified a distinction between the industry needs of the aviation and hospitality sectors and the education system.
She tells YourStory, “As an instructor, I felt that the current education system does not provide all-round skills and knowledge required by the industry. Many newcomers did not know the basics and history of aviation and geography. ”
After working in the industry for a decade, Piyali started the Flage Institute of Aviation and Hospitality in 2015. This, she says, is not only to help students get through the interview phase, but to equip them with the skills to retain them for longer.
Starting up and scaling
Piyali and his team outlined the Government’s Skill India Mission training for the aviation and aerospace sector.
Located in Bengaluru, the institute has trained more than 3,000 students in service sector courses such as Aviation and Hospitality, Pilot Training, Hotel Management, Aircraft Maintenance Engineering and Event Management. The courses cost between Rs 20,000 and Rs 1,85,000.
It has partnered with several flying clubs in South Africa and the US to improve pilot training and its hotel management studies with TATA TISS.
The entrepreneur claims that all courses are internationally recognized through the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and Dubai Accreditation Center (DAC).
Launched from MG Road in Bengaluru with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh, the institute now has 11 centers in metros, and Tier I and II cities such as Mumbai, Bhopal, Lucknow, Guwahati, Raipur and Mangaluru. Some centers are operated on a franchise basis.
Piyali’s strong network in the aviation industry helped increase placement opportunities for students, many of whom worked at Air Asia, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Air India, Indigo, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, ITC Hotels and Taj Hotels .
From a family of lawyers and teachers, the 32-year-old is a first generation entrepreneur and felt that the education system does not equip anyone to meet the challenges that come with entrepreneurship.
“Beyond making promises to customers, you need to build a good rapport with society because our students are from different backgrounds.”
After adjusting to major economic changes such as demonetization and GST, he realized that reskilling and relying play a significant role in maintaining his business. Financial literacy needs to be developed as part of our education system.
After running smoothly for the first three years and receiving a total revenue of Rs 7 crore, the team is now restructuring to deal with the effects of Kovid-19. She says that revenue is currently low.
Adapt to the new normal
Despite being a physical learning center, Piyali, who is also the product head, ventured into online learning a year and a half ago.
Most students between the ages of 18 and 25 took more interest in videos on Facebook and YouTube and were not keen on learning from textbooks, especially since the Kovid-19 outbreak has occurred in India. He started giving video lessons to get in touch with the younger generation.
The institute is working with Tata Consultancy Services iON Digital Learning for content development.
Says Piyali, “Kovid-19 has been a catalyst for everyone in the education sector. The same effect that demonetization had on fintech, it has had the same effect on edtech. The government has also come forward to support online education. ”
Moving forward, she says that education should thrive on a mixed model of text-based learning and practical learning. The epidemic presents an opportunity to reach more geographically where their presence is not yet there.
International students, especially those from Maldives, Afghanistan and African countries, have shown interest in their courses. She says that enabling competent digital learning platforms will reduce their travel and accommodation costs. Piyali says telecom companies should also work on improving digital infrastructure in remote areas.
However, the entrepreneur is having a hard time convincing parents to accept their children for online courses and to choose an interval year due to the epidemic. “A lot of effort goes into convincing them that online is the future and we should follow this developed model of education,” she says.
So far self-funded, the institute plans to ramp up digital content and raise funds for the same.