How a mother with no experience in the tech world helped to bring together learners and teachers from around the globe during the pandemic

How I’m Making It is a weekly series in which Tatler speaks to influential individuals about their unique journeys and what keeps them going.

Over the pandemic, many of us realised that we could use the Internet and modern solutions to remain connected, learn new skills, and improve ourselves. 

However, we quickly found that hunting for the right person to teach us exactly what we wanted to learn was harder than expected. Sometimes, classes were too expensive while others did not offer virtual learning.

This is where entrepreneur and mum Nirali Mehta comes in. Frustrated by the fact that she was struggling to find appropriate teachers for her kids during the pandemic, Nirali decided to find a solution that would benefit not just her family but learners around the globe.

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When I thought of Xplrme, the first issue was about how I could differentiate my system from our competitors. We did some research and we realized that the biggest issue with online learning that people face is consistency and accountability,” Nirali explains. “With Xplrme, considering that most of our courses are live, there is a teacher whom students can interact with and hold them accountable.”

“Another big advantage with Xplrme is that when someone is learning a new skill, they typically learn from Youtube for example right? But what happens when you have a question? How would you get the answers?” Nirali shares.

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Photo: Xplr Me
Above Photo: Xplrme

It was these questions that led Nirali to decide that she wanted to go into tech and find a solution to this problem. The only issue was that she had no experience in tech at all.

Rather, she had a degree in business management from India and a career coaching certification in Singapore. “I also studied jewellery design from Jewellery Design & Management International School (JDMIS) in Singapore and interior design in Dubai at the National Design Academy,” she adds. 

“My very first job was with a publishing house. My main role was to go out and bring in advertisements for their magazines,” Nirali says with a laugh.

Always eager to learn something new, Nirali at one point also worked at her father’s jewellery factory. 

“When I first started, I thought I was going to be the boss with my own office but dad had other plans. He wanted to start me from the bottom up so my first three months on the job were faxing and xeroxing papers,” she admits. “I hated it but it taught me patience and endurance, which are important life skills. It also helped me gain understanding and now I don’t find any job menial.”

It was this eagerness to always try something new and learn that eventually started to frustrate Nirali when she realised that it was terribly difficult to find ways for her kids to learn particularly during the pandemic. 

“It was stressful and time-consuming and I started asking myself questions like what if there was a one-stop-shop for all my learning needs such as an Amazon for e-learning,” Nirali says.

This was eventually what led to the creation of Xplrme. However, there were many obstacles Nirali had to navigate first. 

“I have no training in programming at all,” she admits. “So we started with a dummy version to check the viability and to do some market research. One of my dear friends runs a software company himself and he believed in my project and very enthusiastically offered to guide me through the whole process.”

This helped Nirali to get the ball rolling and to get Xplrme executed. “Now we thankfully have a small team in house to manage day to day and to keep improving and revamping the software,” Nirali offers.

Xplrme is an e-learning platform that allows users to learn new life skills, hobbies and seek professional counsel from experts all in the comfort of their own homes.

Learners can access live or pre-recorded courses from experienced providers based across the world which essentially eliminates the need to compromise between the best teacher and mentor, and what is on offer and convenient.

“Learning something new is incredible and just because you have a degree and a family doesn’t mean learning needs to stop. You can always learn a new hobby or a new skill and keep your mind active. The right to learn should not be negotiable for anyone of any age, sex, or demographics,” Nirali says passionately. “With Xplrme, we want to bring that opportunity to everyone around the globe.”

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With her inexperience, Nirali set about learning everything she could about her software as she was getting the system off the ground. “I would even sit with my most junior staff member and let them teach me Excel because I’m not good with it but I wanted to learn,” Nirali adds.

Today, Xplrme has over 200 users with 70 providers that host over 100 sessions round the clock on her platform. These classes range from academics to cooking, art, therapy, healing, photography and more. The site even provides life coaching, tarot card readings and more. There is something for just about everyone. 

This impressive entrepreneurial feat was made even more impressive by the fact that Nirali also is a life coach and mum who runs her own fashion business. 

With all that she has going on, keep reading to find out how she manages it all in her own words.

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Photo: Xplr Me
Above Photo: Xplrme

What is a typical morning like for you?

Nirali Mehta (NM): What an interesting question to start with. Honestly, I have never been a morning person. I’m currently based out of the United Kingdom so my day starts at 9 am (Singapore time), which is 6 pm here, when my Singapore team gets up.

The first thing I do is put down my agenda for the day as without this I feel lost on my calls. I will then list down the topics for the day to be discussed and then tick them off when we are done.

What do you usually have for breakfast?

NM: I am a very traditional Gujarati girl. I love my tea and khakhra (a thin cracker made from mat beans, wheat, flour and oil) for breakfast. I think this has been my breakfast for the last decade give or take.

What does a standard work day look like for you?

NM: The first half of my workday is usually dedicated to Xplrme, which is when the Singapore team is winding down as well. I put my life-coaching hat on after 2 pm with some of my clients.

I keep myself free for my kids after 5 pm.  The evenings are when my creative side wakes up and when I think about design, jewellery, and future plans for Xplrme.

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Photo: Xplr Me
Above Photo: Xplrme

How would you describe your working style?

I’m definitely very hands-on. In fact, it has taken me a while to get into delegating. I also love training and doing things side by side with my team. For example, I was never a techie before Xplrme but I have now pushed myself into learning a lot of the software myself, such as understanding the backend of my website, navigating and learning about different tools for digital marketing, learning and researching design software.

What time do you usually have lunch? What do you usually have for lunch?

NM: Lunch is usually at 1 pm. At home, we usually keep it very simple with Indian home-cooked food such as roti, dal, vegetables and some chutney.

Free time: overrated or underrated? Why?

NM: Well, it depends on what you define as “free” time. For me, as long as I am spending quality time with what I love, it’s considered free time. So whether it’s working or spending time with friends and family, it counts. So I would say free time will always be underrated for me.

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Photo: Xplr Me
Above Photo: Xplrme

How do you achieve a work-life balance? How do you set boundaries?

NM: This is a great question and is really the reason why I started Xplrme. Working is part of everyone’s life and it’s typically defined as working out of an office but it could also be about managing a home. I did both for many years and I think it’s about balancing home, work, living your life and enjoying what you want to do.

Xplrme allows you to do that last part by giving you easy access to hobbies you might want to pick up while simultaneously letting you take up courses for your child’s betterment and your own career fulfilment.

How do you chase your dreams?

NM: Be positive. Look for the best in every situation and don’t stop.

Risks: should you take them? Why or why not?

NM: You should take them but not to the extent that it takes away your sleep. Without risk, there is no reward. But no risk or reward is worth losing your peace of mind.

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Photo: Xplr Me
Above Photo: Xplrme

How do you deal with your shortcomings?

NM: It depends on whether you think they are your shortcomings or if someone else telling you that they are your shortcomings. Sometimes your shortcomings could be your biggest blessings and how you channel them is important.

For example, my daughter was two and she used to be very emotional and sensitive to the extent that if another child would cry, she would cry. She was also an introvert so both were quite intense traits, to begin with. Someone once said to me these two traits are not the best for her future.

I said I hear you but it will be her biggest strength one day because I will help her channel it. She is now 11 and she is one of those kids who is always there to lend a shoulder to cry on for her friends. This in turn has helped her gain confidence and have loads of friends around her.

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Photo: Xplr Me
Above Photo: Xplrme

What is the best piece of advice that you have ever gotten?

NM: What goes around comes around. So give your 100 per cent and you will get 100 per cent back.

How do you unplug?

NM: I like to read and watch television shows.

How do you stay grounded?

NM: I think the fact that I look at each individual and feel I can learn from them keeps me grounded. No one is bigger or smaller than me.

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How do you manage stress?

NM: Go shopping.

How do you stay motivated?

NM: I just keep my goals in front of me at all times and that helps.

What is one item that has changed your life for the better?

NM: I would say learning graphic design.

What is the last thing you do before you go to bed?

NM: My prayers. It’s been a habit since I was very young.


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