Home / Money / Personal Finance /  ‘A mis-sold insurance policy led to one of our most impactful videos’

Mandeep Gill and Rishabh Jain are the two founders of Labour Law Advisor, one of India's most popular YouTube channels dedicated to finance and labour laws. Even though neither of them have a finance background, they have managed to grow their channel to 3.5 million subscribers. Mandeep originally started out as a fitness trainer and blogger before he met Rishabh in 2016. Together, they attracted a vast following among employees who wanted to understand schemes like the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ State Insurance (ESI). 

Mint spoke to the two creators about their journey in the personal finance content space. Edited excerpts from an interview:

 

Mandeep, can you tell us about your journey? How did you get into content initially and then into personal finance content? 

In 2015-16, I had dropped out of a chartered accountancy (CA) course and started preparing for the common admission test in pursuit of a master’s degree in business administration. 

During my CA preparations, I had gained a lot of weight and became quite obese. After dropping my CA ambitions, I decided to lose weight and did some independent research sitting at home on how to go about with it. I soon had a good grasp of fitness and nutrition. Ultimately, I put this knowledge into practise and shed 32 kg. 

In March 2016, I came across this startup called Qriyo, a home tuition app. I visited them at their office to get myself on board as a fitness instructor. That day, I met Rishabh, the COO of Qriyo. We spoke for a while and he asked me, "Why don't you come and train me?"

During the summer of 2017, I stopped my CAT preparations, too, and got a little lost in life. Since my family was knee-deep in a financial crisis, I took up a sales job at a travel company. Unfortunately, and thankfully, I quit the job on my 50th day because of several issues. That experience helped me realize what I didn't want in a career.

Mandeep, can you elaborate on some of your problems during your first job?

I was doing things that didn’t let me sleep at night. The company thrived on mis-selling and a toxic culture. Combine that with 12-14-hour work days, and it took a huge toll on my mental health. My family needed financial support but I still quit. I actually cried while resigning in front of my manager.

What did you do after quitting that job?

So, two things were finally going my way after I quit the job. In 2016, when I started training Rishabh, I also created a blog called Fitness with Mandy. Rishabh asked me to write for Qriyo's blog, which is how I became a freelance content writer. I was writing on fitness and education while learning SEO (search engine optimization) and within six months, my articles started appearing in Google’s top search results. 

The second thing was an idea that I got while I was working at that travel company in 2017. I noticed my colleagues in sales had no clue about goods and service tax (GST) and were still selling travel packages. That’s when I thought I should start a YouTube channel and explain GST in layman’s terms. My CA preparation helped me here. After making a mediocre first video, I started learning video editing and soon became a freelance video editor. This took me a few months but I got clients from the US, UK, Israel, and China. I was not only making more money than I was at my sales job but also working fewer hours. Additionally, thanks to my Instagram account, I was able to get offline gigs for travel photoshoots and music videos.

I also began working on my own video channel. I made a variety of videos and one of them was a vlog of the Jaipur Literature Festival, 2018. The timing couldn’t have been better because Rishabh saw it and got really impressed. He then shared his idea to make videos on labour laws. He said, “let’s start a YouTube channel, we’ll name it Labour Law Advisor (LLA). Let’s make 6-8 videos and then we’ll see where it goes."

Rishabh, can you tell us about the consultancy background that your parents had and your decision to convert that into a YouTube channel? 

Rishabh: So, our consultancy was started by my grandfather in 1977. He worked in the Indian Railways and was the eldest of eight siblings. At that time, he had the responsibility to provide for his whole family. My father is a civil engineer and worked in Chennai at a managerial level. He was among the first in our town, Jodhpur, to buy a computer. 

My mother, a law graduate, and my grandfather spoke to clients while my father handled the technology side. In 2017, my family said, "A startup isn’t a stable profession. Since our business has been good for more than 40 years, someone should take the baton now. Why shouldn’t it be you?" And, I reluctantly agreed. 

I’m a civil engineer who had graduated from IIT Bombay. Understanding labour laws was a boring task. I thought I would make videos on labour laws even as I was learning about them. The simple to understand videos would surely help a lot of people like me. I pitched this idea to Mandeep and that’s how LLA was born. We uploaded the first video on 14 August 2017. It was on the ESI Act.

When did your content become viral?

Rishabh: For the first two-and-a half years, we ran the channel like newbies and were quite oblivious to the possibilities that we could unlock. One thing that was going great for us was the consistency of our videos. In that pursuit, we made all sorts of videos—from comedy to vaastu. It took us six months to get our first 1,000 subscribers, another five months to finally get monetized. Our first paycheck from YouTube was 27,000. We eventually got some sort of viewership but our revenue was miniscule and there were no sponsors . We were late to the party. It was only in the beginning of 2020 that we started making some decent money and getting better viewership. 

Did you get leads for your family business? 

Rishabh: We got a few leads but that’s just it. YouTube audiences are primarily employees, not employers. 

Can you tell us how you have diversified your business? What services do you provide now? 

Mandeep: We have four major sources. The first one is YouTube ad revenue. Second is the sponsorships that we get. The third is the affiliate revenue, i.e., a sales-based commission paid by brands. Anyone who signs up for their products using our link gets mapped under us and that’s how we earn our commission. The fourth revenue is our own product. We have courses for human resources (HR) and other professionals. 

Mandeep, can you tell me about two of your most popular personal finance videos? 

Mandeep: My family barely survived two financial crises in the last two decades. The most recent one was in 2017-18. We didn’t make enough provisions for contingencies and most of my father’s money was tied up for 20 years in an endowment policy which was mis-sold to him. In 2020, I realised that we’re not the only family to have faced this situation. You keep reading these sort of stories everywhere and there's probably more than a million families out there that have been mis-sold policies and are struggling to make ends meet.

I made an explainer video on endowment/money-back policies and it had a huge impact. Another viral video that I have made is on digital gold. 

When many creators were being paid to promote digital gold, I made a  video about why digital gold is not the best gold investment.

In the past few years, there's been a lot of crypto sponsorship on social media. How did you both navigate this space? 

Rishabh: Firstly, we’ve both invested some money in crypto. But our audience needed much more of the basics first. We made a conscious call not to promote crypto very early and to focus on teaching the basics first. 

What kind of money was  the crypto industry throwing into the content? 

Rishabh: Since a year or two, almost half the requests for sponsored videos we got were for crypto and they offered great money; no other brand could match those offers. It was in the 6-7 digit figure per video. 

Rishabh, how do you invest your own money? 

Rishabh: I'm a conservative investor. I invest in mutual funds via a systematic investment plan (SIP) and make an STP for any surplus cash I get. 

I'm beginning to invest some money in real estate.

What is your asset allocation? 

Rishabh: It’s 30% debt and 70% in equity.

Mandeep, what is your best and worst investment so far? 

Mandeep: It’s Bajaj finance and ITC. The worst investment is my crypto assets worth 5 lakh I'm unable to withdraw it. The lesson learned from this: Always keep your cryptos in your own wallet, not on any exchange.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Neil Borate

Neil heads the personal finance team at Mint. A former colleague called them 'money nerds' and that's what they are. They cover topics like mutual funds, taxation and retirement, all to improve your chances of building wealth. Neil graduated with a degree in law and economics. He passed the CFA Level I exam and began his writing career at Value Research, a mutual fund research firm in 2016. He joined the personal finance team Mint in 2019. Everyday, the Mint Money Team tackles personal finance questions such as where to invest and where to borrow, through articles, charts and reader queries. They also have a daily podcast - 'Why Not Mint Money' and an annual ranking of mutual funds - the Mint 20.
Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
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