He is a hustler, a host, and a vlogger. He knows that in the race of life, exploration of oneself matters the most. He is none other than the well-known face among the millennials of India and the celebrated YouTuber Kavach Khanna. What started as a ‘lockdown’ thing is now among the most-watched videos on YouTube by students who wish to get into their dream colleges. From offering mentorship to students on generic information about colleges, and life experiences to streaming ‘Bangalore’s Best’ series on his YouTube channel to launching a full-fledged website that offers personal guidance, Kavach Khanna’s journey has been noticed by everyone who aspires to achieve their dreams.
In a candid conversation with him, Kavach shared his journey of college life to becoming an established YouTuber in India.
So Kavach, your YouTube channel reads that you are a hustler, vlogger, and a host. Why do you think that these three words describe you in the most fulfilling way?
When I think of myself, these three things come to my mind. My journey has been about hustling, hosting, blogging, and vlogging; maybe not on YouTube, but I have studied in a boarding school since childhood. And then, when I came to Bangalore to CHRIST University, I have been hustling. In 2013, I made a YouTube channel because of all the hype of having a channel. I went, and I wrote these three words seeing my journey of 7 years and then finally, in 2020, I started making and uploading videos regularly.
Your YouTube channel describes itself as an ‘Edutainment’ channel. How did you come up with this unique idea of combining education with entertainment?
When I was on the ‘About’ section of my YouTube page, I thought about what it should be like, because my sister Pavani and I wanted to keep it educational and entertaining. I was guiding students, majorly Christites, on how to ace entrance exams and interviews. At the same time, I also wanted to keep things in mind that would entertain the millennials and educate them. So that is how I decided upon the word ‘Edutainment’ that is education plus entertainment.
“I feel delighted to have been able to impact the lives of people around me.”Says Kavach Khanna
How has your experience of hustling between your work and also being an active YouTuber been so far?
Had this work from home or, sadly, the pandemic not lead to a lockdown, this channel would not have been what it is today. Managing two things simultaneously is not an easy task, and had you asked me during normalcy to upload the videos along with my work, it would not have been possible. As a senior to aspiring Christites, I used to get calls for guiding them. What I used to tell one person, the same I would tell the other. Therefore, I thought of making a video, uploading it, and giving links to people who wanted it. That video did great, and since then, the people who were on my channel drove it forward. In just 30 days, my channel had 35-40 videos. They used to ask for information, and I used to make videos accordingly.
When I took a break and stopped uploading videos, I started getting Instagram messages from my followers and subscribers asking where I was or why I was not uploading any new content. I realized that this is not just a lockdown thing anymore, and I am responsible for these students. Now it is a part of my life, and I make sure to take out time and upload a video with all the graphics, music, recordings, and edits. One thing led to another, and not only students but even parents started to reach out to me for educational consultation. I now get calls from students who say that they would not have succeeded without my guidance. This really makes me happy; that I could help students make it through their dream University. I feel delighted to have been able to impact the lives of people around me.
You have recently launched a website as well where you train students for acing micro presentations and interviews of colleges. What compelled you to come up with a website like this?
While I was mentoring people, I came across cases that were specific and needed individual attention. Some were either drop-outs or had different backgrounds, or had even opted for courses they did not know. When I was in my years of applying to college, I had no one to rely on and ask for credible information. Various websites either gave overloading or incorrect information. Many deserving people back then got rejected just because they did not have the proper advice on how to ace these Personal Interviews.
So last year was more of a journey, and the numbers were fewer who reached out to me on Instagram and YouTube. However, by this year, my name was established, and they were coming to a known shop, and the numbers too got overwhelming. So that’s how I thought of having a website with products like ‘Personal Guidance and Doubt Clearing’, ‘Interview Preparation 101’, and ‘Decoding Micro Presentations’. Coming up with these products was also based on the feedback that I got from students where I found that along with interview preparation, they needed help in micro presentations. So that is how I thought of having a well-established website.
In the field of education, where people charge hefty amounts for offering training as you do, you have kept the enrollment amount very nominal and student-friendly. How do you think it helps your website and your user base reach?
Initially, when this idea of having a website came, I thought of keeping it for free. However, it would have been challenging for me to handle so many people reaching out to me for an individual 30 minutes session. So to bifurcate the crowd, I thought of coming up with costs for my products.
While I was deciding upon the amount of the products, many figures came to my mind and looking at the industry that was laden with 4 zeros plus figures for the same kind of mentorship, I thought as a student and how much I would be able to give out of my own pocket. Nothing comes in 500 rupees in today’s world, and this amount is something that a student can easily spend on their education without even asking their parents. Secondly, keeping such a nominal amount could give me an edge over others who charge a hefty amount. So I thought of myself as a consumer of this product. I even guarantee cashback if my customer is not satisfied.
While I was going through your videos, you have emphasized that college students should travel and explore their talents along with studying. Why do you feel that these attributes are necessary for a person’s overall development?
I was in a boarding school that never pressured students. On the contrary, when I see the day schools in our country – irrespective of the city – the kind of life students of high school and intermediate live — studying continuously from 6 AM till midnight — sends shivers down my spine. They don’t get to live their life because of the competition in any stream of subjects. But when one comes to college, they get three years to explore themselves and travel with their friends. I stress upon it so much because travelling and getaways give the energy that keeps one going.
“Travel helps build relationships that might not be possible even when people meet daily; we do not communicate with people often, but travelling gives us time to know each other better.”Says Kavach Khanna
I was a geek and did not wish to travel much. I am thankful to my parents for pushing me to travel and explore Bangalore in my college years. You should remember that you can get an education anywhere, but the surroundings, the people, and the three years of college life will never come back. So make the most of it. You will always have academics and work, but this time will not come back.
You host your live show named ‘Chit-Chat with Kavach Khanna’ on YouTube. During your live sessions, have you come across people who taught you something? If yes, what did you learn from them?
The best part about ‘Chit-Chat with Kavach Khanna’ is that I get to listen to a lot of people. It’s not just Pavani and I talking. I get to listen to a myriad of people’s experiences no matter what topic I am talking about, be it dress codes or relationships. By listening to them, I get an idea of what and how they think. Along with it, I have built solid relationships with many young people to whom I am a fatherly or brotherly figure that I never thought I could be. They share things with me that they cannot share with their parents, and I believe that I learn a lot. So yes, I learn from the experiences of people just by hearing them out.
You have also conducted several live sessions with your sister Pavani Khanna who is a food blogger, as your co-host. Did she help you in preparing for your lives, and how?
Pavani is not just a co-host; rather, she is an integral part of what goes onto my channel. Be it the topics of ‘Chit-Chats’ or other videos, she comes up with concepts and things we can talk about. She curated the entire content of the series ‘Bangalore’s Best’ on my channel. She even directed the whole series! Pavani adds a fun element while I deal with the guidance and mentorship. She also brings a lot of credibility to my channel. Her experiences bring a kind of validation to what I say, yet keeping in mind that both of us have lived different lives and have faced different situations in our college time.
These were the organizations that I worked for when I was in college. Along with applying for so many things comes a lot of competition, but luckily, I made it through them. Under25 had an interview round that I cleared and got in volunteering and then into the core team. Likewise, Rang De was a social project that taught me a lot to hustle and build networks and relationships in and around Bangalore and in the Industry. These all got me recognition as well.
“One of the best pieces of advice that my senior gave me was to hustle, put your hands and fingers in everything, get dirty, and take up everything that comes your way irrespective of whether you are interested in it or you know anything about it.”Says Kavach Khanna
You had also volunteered for Sunburn. How was the experience there?
The ulterior motive behind volunteering for Sunburn was to attend it without even paying my fees. However, I learned to communicate well, persuading and convincing people to buy the tickets I was selling. But I learned that organizing an event is not easy and how much effort goes behind for just a few hours of fun. A few thousand people working on an hour or so project to entertain and satisfy lakhs of people was incredible to know. But honestly, I just went there to save my own money.
You have also been one of the founding members of your University’s Official Theatre Team ‘Orpheus Productions’. What were your thoughts, and what compelled you to come up with a theatre group?
In my first year, I was in the Central Campus of my University in Bangalore, but in the second year, our batch was sent to the Bannerghatta Road Campus of the University of Bangalore. So we did not have any theatre team there, and all the theatre enthusiasts wanted to make one. So with common consensus, we named it ‘Orpheus‘, and that is how the journey started.
So when you say ‘Orpheus’, what do you mean by it?
‘Orpheus’, to me, is college… Everything… My college life would have been different if ‘Orpheus’ had not been there. Along the journey, I met some amazing directors who wanted me in their plays. During the initial days of my second year in college, I enrolled myself for various MBA courses, and I was in no mood to do theatre anymore because I had done theatre a lot since my school time. But eventually, I gave up on them and switched to doing theatre because that’s what brought me recognition due to the concepts that I brought to the table and kept me going.
You have also acted and directed several plays named ‘Astitva’, ‘Hakikat’ and mimes named ‘Black and White’. Can you shed some light upon your work experience for the same, and what has been the central idea behind the story of your plays?
It was a mime, starting from ‘Black and White’, and it was my first direction. One of my juniors had come up with it, and he was humble enough to give up directorial credits as I had a lot of exposure in mime, and we eventually won a lot of competitions. Coming onto ‘Hakikat’, it was a play on mental health directed by Kudrat, my fellow mate in the same batch.
The most important and the closest to me is ‘Astitva’, a proscenium on the LGBTQI+ community directed by my close friend Gargi. I remember when ‘Astitva’ had come to me, I was choosing another play to be a part of, but Gargi convinced me and told me that in me, she was envisioning the protagonist of Astitva. I had played the role of Lakshmi Bai, who comes out of the closet in a saree with a long black fleece (wig), adorning earrings, and a red bindi on the forehead, telling the society that she belongs to the LGBTQI+ community. I had to rehearse my dance moves and learn how to deliver the dialogues to get into my character. That was a challenging yet enriching experience.
I had represented my University for two successive years at Mood Indigo, Asia’s largest college fest held at IIT Bombay every year. Both ‘Hakikat’ and ‘Astitva’ went there, and ‘Astitva’ got placed in the top 5 plays. Then at IIM Bangalore, ‘Astitva’ was specially performed for the LGBTQI+ community, and while I was on stage, I could see tears in their eyes. People from the community and others walked up to me and said that this is what society needs to understand. Being approached by people and being appreciated for your work means everything, and I have lived it. ‘Hakikat’ and ‘Astitva’ gave goosebumps to the audience when they were performed on campus. However, ‘Astitva’ has a very special place in my heart.
A casual question now, how has been your Work From Home experience been like?
Work From Home has been through phases like complete lockdown to things getting normal and then again complete lockdown. But with the advent of technology, since I can do stuff from and spend time with my family, I like it. Yes, it took a toll on my plans to go to London for my Masters as I wanted to go in 2020 only, but then things fell apart. Now, it is the same scenario, and I have to decide again. But then I reckon that since I was in a boarding school for 8 years and then Bangalore for 3 years for my Bachelors and worked for Ernst and Young for a year, I had missed many things with my parents. But now I can be around them, know their likes and dislikes, and what kind of medicines they take. One’s life revolves around themselves – their grades, academics, and we miss on asking our parents about their well-being. Although I have my problems, the positive side to it is now I can sit and have a hearty conversation with my parents and chill with them at home.
A piece of advice that you would like to give to our readers?
One piece of advice to the readers of Brown Magazine is to try to find yourself in this life journey. Considering the present times, it is very easy to fall under peer pressure and get carried away with things and consider and imitate someone else’s path or goals as yours or make a name in the world. But no, relax! While you are trying to chase long-term goals, try finding yourself – who you are, what you want to become, what your background is, and what will be the most satisfying thing for you.
“So feel lucky for what you have around yourself. Try being your own self, find a little happiness for yourself, your personal goals that satisfy you… Find something that helps you sleep peacefully at night.”Says Kavach Khanna
Definitely, the chase for materialistic things will never end; there will always be things bigger and better than you have been in terms of your money, watches, cars, or even your marks and personal relationships. But this age of turning 21 or 22 from 16 is tricky and will pass so fast that when you look back, you would realize that you were trying to be someone else rather than being yourself! So amidst all the hustle-bustle, an ever-growing competition, and race of life, explore and be yourself.