Cracking CAT MBA entrance test is an achievement that changes one’s life and topping it would surely mean a step in the direction of success. Today, we have with us Mr Mradul Verma, who has scored 99.81 percentile in the CAT 2017 MBA entrance exam. Mradul is a Computer Science engineer from JK Institute of Applied Physics & Technology, University of Allahabad and a CAT 2017 topper. Today, he will share with us his journey from being a Computer Science graduate to a CAT 2017 topper who cleared the exam in the first attempt.
Congratulations Mradul for cracking the CAT 2017 exam with a score of 99.81 percentile. Did you expect that you will score 99+ percentile in your first attempt of CAT exam?
As far as mocks go, I didn't expect that I will get a 99+ percentile. I was thinking around 95 but after giving the exam I saw that I had attempted 77 questions. It was a huge thing for me because I wasn't scoring that great. But after the exam, I checked the predictor and it was showing a 99+ percentile so I was quite excited.
Why don't you tell us something about yourself and your family?
I am from Farukhabad, Uttar Pradesh. I did my schooling there at Blue Bells School. Presently, I am in the final year of my graduation and I am majoring in computer science and engineering from JK Institute of Applied Physics and technology, University of Allahabad. About my family, my father is a government pharmacist, my mother is a housewife and my younger sister is presently in 9th standard. In my free time, I like to play badminton and watch documentaries.
From being a Computer Science Engineer to Management; how did you decide that MBA was your true calling?
What happened was that when I was in college my seniors participated in an event called Eureka conducted by IIT Bombay. This was a college event so we used to have group discussions about whether to go for entrepreneurship or for a job and various other activities which promote entrepreneurship. After that, we had a college festival in which there was a B-Plan competition and I participated in it with my team. From there only, I thought that this is where I want to go. I even co-founded 2 start-ups after that but it didn't work out so well. So, I think that MBA will equip me with the right set of tools to execute the plans that I have.
What strategy did you use to achieve a 99+ percentile score?
Sir, there was a different strategy for every section. For Verbal reasoning section, I didn't focus that much on grammar and vocabulary. I used to read editorials and books by various foreign authors in both the fiction and non-fiction category. As non-fiction gives you a lot of information that comes in handy all your life. And for the DI/LR section, I used to give timed mocks. Like for basic questions I used to set a timer depending upon the number of questions and then I used to attempt them in that time. And for quant, I just focused on getting my basics right and then go for mocks. Initially, I used to focus on concepts and the last two months I attempted mocks and analysed them. Based on that analysis I then focused on my weak areas.
Despite being from an engineering background, you managed a healthy 97.48 percentile in VR section? What strategy did you use for this section?
Sir, what usually happens with engineers is they only focus on the academic texts they don't read books, read literature or follow news the same was the case with me. In the age of the internet where you can find everything within a click, most of the people follow the internet and scan whatever information they want from there. So, same was the case with me. For reading comprehension, we get one or two page long passages. I used to get bored reading them, so what happened was I developed a reading habit. I used to read editorial and books that helped in vocabulary also. You don't have to focus specifically on vocabulary and grammar practice. But you have to keep in mind that you start reading at your level, like don't go reading Stephen King the very first time start with something simpler and then increase your level step by step.
Right from your engineering days, you have been involved in two start-ups. How important do you think an MBA degree is for a start-up entrepreneur?
I am from Farukhabad a small town in Uttar Pradesh and back there I didn't have that much exposure regarding startups and all. So, when I enrolled in the JK Institute for my engineering I used to watch my seniors organize a lot of events related to entrepreneurship. There were a lot of discussions on whether we should go for entrepreneurship or for a job. We used to interact with a lot of business people about how everything functions. And in the second year of my engineering when I participated in an event organized by IIT Bombay named Eureka, my idea was selected and we made it to the top 50 teams. They called us in for the mentorship program and taught us how to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) which is an initial product that you present to your customers. We went with our MVP to the market but it didn't hit off.
The key learning that I gained from this attempt was that the customer segment I targeted was wrong and I guess the time also was not right. The idea was all about integrating the healthcare marketplace. Like your running all over the different places to get all your paper works right or get access to different services. There was a report published in the Lancet Global which stated that the deaths were increasing in proportion to the distance from the hospitals. So, we were mainly focused on helping the customers by increasing the accessibility of healthcare services and medicines and cutting down the cost for them.
As for the second startup, it was the brainchild of my friend Shrikant, he hails from Hyderabad. Once, his mobile was not working properly and he went to get it checked at a local shop but the service there was really bad. So, he thought about doing something about it. We planned out our project reached out to the local businesses and also to the customers. And since we were catering mainly to the mobile devices the problem that we solved was about like if your device is not working properly you give to a repairman it usually takes about 3-4 days and you don't have a backup phone. And in India, the major problem is almost everyone uses smartphones but not many people are aware of the technicalities related to it. Like for example, the issue you are facing could simply be solved through software but the repairman tells you it's a hardware problem and then charges you hefty sums to replace those parts.
So the insight I learned from these two experiences was that like there is a problem and you want to solve it so you try to come up with an idea. But really happens is that you create an idea by yourself and instead of focusing on the problem you create a problem of your own. That is something that cannot work, you have to focus on the real problem. Also, when you have an idea you become biased, you strongly believe that it will work in the market but that is not the case. You have look at the things from a customer's perspective and you have to understand whether the customer really wants the service or not. Because, you might be biased about your idea so you will do all the calculations, make charts and all and forecast that it will do well. But you have to first interact with your target customers and understand whether he really wants this service or not.
Thank you Mradul for your time! We are sure that your journey from being an engineer to a CAT topper would inspire many among our audiences. Jagranjosh Team wishes you good luck and fortune in the future. Also, folks, stay tuned for the next part of the interview with Mradul Verma.