Deepa Seira and Praveena Prathapachandran stepped into business not out of passion towards entrepreneurship. They wanted to spend some valuable time with their family, and, indeed, to share what they learnt with others for improving their lives. That low-profile business has turned out into a classic model of women entrepreneurship in Kerala in a unique sector, training for medical licensing exams. Unique Mentors, led by Deepa and Praveena, provides quality training in licensing exams for all medical professionals
For those aspirants who dream of a high profile medical job in foreign countries, the prime challenge is cracking medical licensing exams. Medical degree holders will be allowed to work outside India only if they have cleared the regulatory exams there. Clearing licensing exams seems to be a herculean task for aspirants across India. No worries. Here is a unique institute led by two women entrepreneurs, Deepa Seira and Praveena Prathapachandran, helping medical professionals to clear licensing exams in different countries.
Kochi-based Unique Mentors is an institute of training in licensing exams for all medical professionals, providing them an extra edge to be the most equipped professional in a particular industry.
“Our experts will sharpen the professional skills of the aspirants to be a demanding professional who can match competency with the global expectations and opportunities,” according to Deepa and Praveena. Unique Mentors shows the way for clearing licensing exams for all medical streams in various countries, including the UAE, US, Canada and the UK.
Deepa Seira and Praveena Prathapachandran have great expertise in their own fields. Deepa has secured post-graduation and fellowship in Neurological Rehabilitation. Praveena has a PhD in Medical Microbiology.
Deepa Seira, who secured post-graduation and fellowship in Neurological Rehabilitation, was working as Assistant Professor with Medical Trust Institute of Medical Sciences in Ernakulam. She had to quit the job after the birth of her second child. This break impacted Deepa heavily, as teaching is a passion for her.
After a hiatus, Deepa restarted her career with an institute that offers training for medical professionals. She had little idea about medical licensing then. But that was a breakthrough in her career, a door to great possibilities. There she met Praveena, a faculty of Microbiology at the same institute. After securing PhD in Medical Microbiology, Praveena was working with the Research and Development wing of Agappe Diagnostics.
The passion for teaching was the connecting point between Deepa and Praveena. Gradually, they ventured out into their own business. Unique Mentors was started on January 5, 2015 with just two students. Now it trains hundreds of medical job aspirants in multiple streams.
“We had no idea about running a business. We didn’t have a discussion on the pros and cons of starting a business with anyone. So we succeeded in setting the venture with an open mind,” says Praveena. The partners and family of Deepa and Praveena stood behind them strongly.
“We got 100 per cent support from our family without any conditions. Our children had to suffer a lot for our institute. Naturally, they are also a part of Unique Mentors. It was never a smooth ride,” the women entrepreneurs say.
Initially we started courses in areas of our expertise. Physiotherapy, Microbiology, Laboratory technology are some of the courses at the beginning. Now we branched out into almost all streams such as Dentistry, Alternative Medicine (Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Siddha, Unani), General Practitioners etc. Unique Mentors is a pioneer in all these streams.
Challenge; Finding the right talent
Hunting out the right talent for providing training was the biggest challenge for Deepa and Praveena. “It’s not like teaching students in a college or school. Here there is no age barrier. Students of varying ages come for training; they have different levels of understanding the basics. As most of them are engaged in family things, they have naturally become entangled in some kind of lethargy. What they learnt during the degree period must fade out. So the biggest challenge is sensing their level of knowledge and providing them training according to that. Here the teachers need to start from the scratches, and they should have the same entrepreneurship spirit as we show,” Deepa explains.
“Initially we have a single focus on qualifications while selecting the trainers. But soon, we realized that they could not teach the aspirants here with just subject expertise. Now we are having trainers with true intrapreneurship spirit. They are the ones who made Unique Mentors great. Dr Shihab, Dr Rajith, Dr Revathi, Dr Reshma, Dr George, Dr Thomas, Dr Smitha, Megha, Greeshma…the list of sincere trainers goes on like this.”
“Sincerity, time, and effort are the factors that drive our business. Our business is not a money-oriented product. More than money, hard work matters here“Deepa and Praveena
Surviving the Covid times
As the Covid-induced lockdown made tumultuous changes in businesses across the globe, like other institutions, Unique Mentors also went online. It was a tough period. Initially we had some hiccups in the transition of regular classes to online. But the tech team stood behind us strongly. They gave us the courage for the transition. Now we have well-positioned online classes. We have students from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The great thing is that even aspirants from outside India joined our classes. We have our own software for online training sessions, say Deepa and Praveena.
These women entrepreneurs think the greatest investment for a business like theirs is time and effort.
“Sincerity, time, and effort are the factors that drive our business. Our business is not a money-oriented product. More than money, hard work matters here. We started the business with a capital of just Rs 3 lakh. Along with this, we have a capital that cannot be valued in monetary terms. Hard work, knowledge, and our undiluted commitment towards teaching are the aspects that matter the most.”
This paid off well. Unique Mentors never recorded a loss since its beginning in 2015. From the first month onwards returns have been there. Today they have some great financial figures in their balance sheet.
Unique Mentors has a futuristic vision to move forward. We have plans in the pipeline to associate with like-minded institutions and to open new branches. In a span of ten years we will start new courses, a finishing school, and a lot more-adds Deepa.
Great feedback from the students
“The greatest satisfaction in this profession is getting true feedback from students after their placements. That is a true moment of fulfilment,” Deepa says with a smile on her face.
“Unique Mentors have excellent online coaching facilities. The faculty members are very helpful and doctor-friendly. I guarantee that anyone could pass the exam with flying colours with the coaching from Unique Mentors,” says Dr Sindhu Vijaykumar, who cracked a high-profile job after the training at Unique Mentors.
Sindhu is now working as a Dentist at Dubai Health Authority.
Dr Jesna BS, Ayurveda physician, MOH-TCAM, echoes Sindhu. “The coaching is great here. I would say guidance and nurturing rather than coaching. I have cleared the licensing exam for MOH – TCAM (Homeopathy) from Unique Mentors,” Jesna says.
For physiotherapists like me, Unique Mentors is an ideal destination for training, says Shabeeh Shabeeh, who is now working as physiotherapist at DHA.