Career & Business

#TheProof: How Vaishali Patel Went from $3k/month to Over $350k Per Year...Teaching Gujarati Online

February 24, 2022

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#TheProof is a series that celebrates the success of our community. We can’t be what we can’t see, which is why we proudly feature our students from across the globe who’ve made their dreams a reality. 

Vaishali is the type of person who smiles so big her cheek hits the “mute” button when she talks on the phone. She’s a teacher, YouTuber, B-Schooler, and founder of Sanskar Teaching — an online academy designed to give people a deeper understanding of the Gujarati language and culture. Here she shares how she grew her business from “scraping by” to bringing in over $350,000 last year alone. 

Pay close attention to this Q&A and you'll learn how Vaishali:

  • Started a business with no clear business idea or prior business training.
  • Overcame her paralyzing self-doubt.
  • Scaled from $36k per year to $350k in just 2 years!
  • Freed herself from burnout and finally started taking long vacations while her business kept on flowing and growing…

Today your mission is to “preserve Desi culture,” but this wasn’t always the case, was it?

I spent the first 16 years of my life in India, and I moved to the U.S. during a very impressionable age. I started at a school in Anaheim where it was 99% white kids, and I felt like I needed to do everything I could to be like them. I didn't want to have anything to do with my culture or my language. And so for years I didn't speak Gujarati, eat the food, or wear the clothes.

What changed?

Having my two children. As they got older I realized how much I wanted them to value and learn about their heritage. I began to see things I had pushed away for so long in a new light. I wanted them to be able to speak Gujarati and know the Gujarati way of life. But there weren’t any classes near me so I drove two hours each way to a temple in Los Angeles so they could learn. 

That’s a lot of driving!

We were exhausted. Eventually, the arduous drive wasn’t worth it. But the deep desire to teach them Gujarati stayed with me. I’d been volunteering at the temple and the students wanted me to keep teaching. So with a little push from my own kids, I started teaching them over video chat.

When did you realize you wanted to turn this into a business?

Business is never something I was drawn to. I was pre-med in college! As my kids got older though I started feeling this itch to find something I was good at. Maybe I’d write a book or start a business. I started taking all these different online courses and never following through on them. I’d sign up for a course and it would just sit there. I still have a couple I've never taken. 

And that’s when your best friend took B-School.

Exactly. I saw what Siri was doing and she didn't really have a plan or a product in mind, but she loved Marie. So the next year, when B-School came around I thought, “I want to do this. Let's just see where this goes.”

She and I did it together. We would meet at a coffee shop to go through that week’s Module. Through that process I was able to identify what I’m good at. And that’s when it clicked. I needed to turn my teaching into a business.

Were you scared? 

Absolutely. My first thought was, “I’m not qualified to do this.” I didn’t have a background in education. I didn’t have a master’s degree. I’d taught Indian folk dance for a while, but that was it.

How did you move past that self-doubt?

Honestly, it took a long time. At first I was just teaching my sister-in-law's kids online using Google Hangout. But then I would catch them talking to their grandparents or singing a little song I’d taught them and it would sink in — I helped them do that.

I may not have a master's in education or a PhD, but whatever little wisdom or language skills that I have I'm able to pass down.

I love that so much. And your approach to teaching language is really unique. Can you tell us about that?

Most language teaching starts with the alphabet. It’s all about memorization. You just write it down. Memorize. Write it down again. But I’ve learned that most people just want to communicate with their family. They want to speak and understand. They couldn’t care less about the alphabet.

One of the ways you do this is through your YouTube and TikTok videos — they’re hilarious! You have videos like Different ways to say stupid in Gujarat and Indian Playground Game, which has 253 MILLION views!

Thank you! On TikTok I do this alter ego thing, inspired by Jersey Marie actually. It’s a character I play where I do goofy things that our parents did or I do a bit called, “American mom vs. Indian mom.” People love it and now we have 17,000 followers just on that platform.

How did you come up with these ideas?

Honestly, I take myself so seriously in every other area of my life. These channels let me be a complete idiot and it just doesn’t matter. I have fun! Plus, my goal has always been to create a love and respect for this culture and language in those students.

In a review of your school someone wrote, “I finally have the confidence to hold a conversation with my wife’s grandmother after only 2 semesters!” How does it make you feel to read that?

I absolutely love it. One assignment I give to my students is called “Dada Ba” Homework, where the kids have a conversation with their grandparents. And the happiness you see in the grandparent's faces — it's so wonderful. I just love watching it. 

You’ve had some pretty incredible growth since B-School.

Yeah, our YouTube channel just shot up to 750,000 followers. We’re at 40,000 on Instagram. We had never touched Pinterest until recently. We started off with 48 followers in 2020, and we just ended 2021 with 15,000.

How has this translated over to your actual business success?

It’s been incredible. The first two years I was scraping to make $3-4K per month. B-School helped me find the market for what I wanted to sell and helped show me that I was actually qualified to do it.

In just two years we hit $250,000. And in 2020 we passed $350,000. We were able to hire more teachers. We have a full staff, with students all over the world.

At this point, every single person on my team has taken B-School

Congratulations! What helped you make that leap in growth?

The biggest shift was to invest in my business. Money. Time. Staff. Systems. I had to remind myself that a $10 investment right now will turn into $1,000 later.

Plus, now I can take long vacations without stress because everything is flowing on its own.

“Now I can take long vacations without stress because everything is flowing on its own.”

You mentioned having taken a lot of online courses and never following through. Why do you think the B-School experience was different?

B-School felt like actual school. There was homework. There were weekly Modules. There were Mentors who were around to answer your questions. It helped me take it seriously. My friend and I printed out our worksheets and had time set up every week to do the work. 

What was the most valuable thing you learned?

Before B-School I had this high level idea of who I wanted to serve, but until I did the exercises in Module 1 I hadn’t thought about it in any sort of specific way. B-School helped me figure out exactly who my people were and how I could help them.

Thanks to the process I learned, I started gathering feedback from old students and their parents and realized, “OMG! I am sitting on a gold mine.” That’s when my business took off.

The other thing I really liked was all the resources Marie provided in the B-School Member Area. I wasn't a tech savvy person and right before B-School I’d paid $15,0000 for a website. I wish I’d had Marie’s resource list before because, oh my God, I could have done it myself for free! So yeah, if I’d taken B-School just one year earlier I would have saved myself $15,000

“If I’d taken B-School just one year earlier I would have saved myself $15,000!”

I guess you live and learn, right?

Exactly. Now I know how to work smarter. And by the end of the program we had so much momentum we couldn’t stop. Our idea bank just keeps growing! If someone asked me whether or not they should take B-School I’d say, “Do it. It'll be the best thing you'll do for yourself and for your business.”

Thank you, Vaishali, we love you!

What did you notice from Vaishali's story? Any ahas you can apply to your own life and business? Let us know in the comments below.

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