UPDATED on 11 August 2021 at 10.45am to incorporate response received from BizGurukul
BizGurukul, as it describes itself, is an online e-learning platform that sells skill development courses related to entrepreneurship, career and business development and additionally provides training to earn money with the help of social media. However, even though BizGurukul has its own website where these courses have been advertised, one cannot buy them directly from the website, without putting in the sponsor ID.
One must go via what they call their affiliate program, which incidentally, is being projected as spectacularly lucrative. More importantly, this opportunity to make big money has nothing to do with either the course content or the qualifications, age or work experience of the affiliate. It manifests through the commission that BizGurukul pays to the affiliate for every person who buys the course material.
This is unlike other sales program that allows consumers to purchase directly from the websites without using an affiliate link. BizGurukul by contrast sells its course material through affiliate links ONLY, and such a link is provided to the potential buyer.
It is also unlike other affiliate programs wherein a potential affiliate is not required to purchase the parent company’s product. But to become a BizGurukul affiliate, one must compulsorily buy one of the courses on offer. There is no compulsion, however, to become an affiliate after making the purchase. The affiliate then proceeds to sell the course to others, earning a hefty commission from the company for each closure of a sale.
Upon enrolment, students get their own dashboard where courses are pre-recorded and only training and webinars for how to earn as an affiliate are live as well as pre-recorded. Training is provided to new affiliates so that they know how to promote the product and start earning. This training is provided free of cost.
Thus, after making the purchase, the buyer stands at a forked path, one going towards utilising the knowledge gained from the course for seeking a job or setting up one’s own business, and the other, leading to the affiliate program, which entails selling the course in the market and earning a commission through each sale.
Most prefer the latter due to the dazzling display of the phenomenal wealth earned by affiliates, prominently displayed in the BizGurukul advertisements.
Affiliates who have been asked if this business model resembles the multi-level marketing (MLM) model, usually respond by claiming that BizGurukul is a private company under the Companies Act 2013 and is registered in New Delhi, with the registrar of companies under the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA). However, their legal status does not justify their business practices.
Hence BizGurukul appears to be neither fish nor fowl but an effective red herring indeed, as in the garb of a marketing company, they are actually an affiliate program behind the façade.
Why have they done that?
I first became aware of BizGurukul after reading a post on LinkedIn (see here
). I did not reply to the person in the comments section and instead reached out to her via direct message (DM), at which point she gave me her mobile number.
Currently, one can become an affiliate marketer for any business by promoting the products of the company on any social media handle or a website. People can create their own blog pages, and obviously, they will need to purchase domain names, and SSL certificates but they do not have to pay for affiliate marketing itself. To become an affiliate marketer, BizGurukul requires people to enrol for their course. The course is thus a camouflage for the affiliate program.
The analogy provided by the affiliate in this screenshot is thus flawed, because it does not show the amount paid by the affiliate to purchase the course.
BizGurukul Courses: Are they worth it?
BizGurukul course packages are divided into three categories: Gold, Sapphire and Platinum, with sub-courses, in different price brackets. Buying any one of the packages requires the customer to provide sponsor details, that is, information about the affiliate, who closed the sale.
You can check out their course content (here
). These courses are pre-recorded, and most of the content covered can be found on YouTube, Google, and in several other free online courses.
BizGurukul also offers live webinars and pre-recorded or live training sessions for increasing sales. In these training sessions, BizGurukul affiliates are provided training on how to increase the sale of their courses.
However, we do not know, who is teaching these courses.
(A screenshot of Copywriting course content offered by BizGurukul)
(A screenshot of copywriting courses available for free on other platforms)
(A screenshot of courses offered by BizGurukul in their Sapphire package)
(A screenshot of similar marketing courses available for free on other platforms)
As an institute that focuses on imparting and training students with the necessary digital marketing skills, BizGurukul has never advertised the success stories of its students. Unlike other institutes that bring their research to the table, BizGurukul does not offer industry insights, instead it actively only seeks to expand the affiliate programs, while the course is just for namesake to prevent it from looking like a pure MLM.
In a typical MLM, the sponsor gets a commission for recruiting a new person below his level without any limit and can also help his downline to recruit new persons below their levels. There are two structures, one the sponsor increases the number of downlines below his level horizontally (1: n or many) and two, he increases his downline in binary mode vertically (1:2).
Most MLMs pay commission on recruiting new persons and then the ‘so-called’ royalty income on the number of new recruits in binary mode. BizGurukul does not have royalty payments since its entire business model is based on selling its education package to as many people as possible in ‘1: n’ module. For this, it pays commission directly to the sponsor based on the package bought by the sponsor and the recruit. (See image below)
Furthermore, the LinkedIn profile of BizGurukul founders has no mention of digital marketing skills. As an institute that focuses on imparting and training students with the necessary digital marketing skills, BizGurukul has never advertised the success stories of its students.
Let us go through the LinkedIn profile of BizGurukul Founders.
Rohit Kumar Sharma- co-founder, business head. Graduated in 2014 from Northern India Engineering College. Although BizGurukul was incorporated in 2020, Rohit mentions in his profile that he has been chief operating officer at BizGurukul since 2011. Rohit has 6,348 followers on LinkedIn, but only has two or three likes on his posts, indicating a very low engagement rate (perhaps his courses are not helping him anymore!) and many of his followers are repeating themselves frequently.
Existing Digital Marketing institutes
In this section, I am including links to some websites of digital marketing institutes that offer different types of courses with live classes (online or offline), where you can purchase the courses directly from the websites without any affiliates, and that have strong placement opportunities as well.
and there are many more.
(Note- I am not affiliated with these institutes. I performed a simple Google search to find additional institutes offering programs in digital marketing. I intend to draw a comparison between these websites, their manner of operations and BizGurukul’s manner of operations and its website)
Is BizGurukul misleading young people?
BizGurukul affiliates post lucrative job openings on LinkedIn, with no eligibility requirements. Well, they say that their affiliate program is open only for people, who are 18 plus. See the screenshot below. Yet, the same affiliate in my contact has posted a WhatsApp status showing earnings made by another affiliate by selling BizGurukul courses. This other affiliate is a student in the 10th standard! Well, she may be 18+ and still in 10th standard! Hard to believe.
As a next step, the affiliates post extremely enticing content and screenshots of their earnings, sometimes even describing what they purchased with the money earned as commissions.
Lack of Regulations
An increasing number of online skill-based programs are available that offer certificates, diplomas, training, and tutoring. Moreover, these courses enable students to develop skills that make them more employable, since curricula offered by universities do not reflect the skills demanded by industries.
Though these institutes offer certificate programs, they fall under unregulated education sectors and are registered as private companies. When designing courses, they set their own course structure, fees, quality, methods of evaluation, and training. In absence of any regulations that provide minimal benchmarks for the course content offered by such private companies, there is a proliferation of companies advertising lucrative incomes for graduates once they join their courses.
Currently, online regulations by the University Grants Commission (UGC) govern only universities or institutes deemed to be universities, whereas All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) regulations govern institutes that provide technical courses.
Even if such unregulated e-learning platforms are classified as e-commerce entities, but there are no specified quality standards for such courses. Hence, it is difficult to dispute the quality of services.
Why must action against BizGurukul be taken?
We are staring history in the face. Like BizGurukul, there was a company by the name E-Biz, which offered various IT-related courses through its affiliate marketing program.
E-biz courses had little or no value, but young people were attracted to the prospect of more money, easier and quicker. Over Rs5,000 crore of funds had been siphoned off by this illegal operation. In a posh area of Noida, the office space of E-biz was spread across a multi-storeyed construction of 500 sq. yards.
In March this year, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a prosecution complaint against Ebiz.com Pvt Ltd and its managing director Pawan Malhan in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) special court.
According to the ED, the accused ran an MLM scheme for the sale of worthless products like computer education packages which were downloaded freely from the Internet. It says, “Ebiz products were only for name’s sake. The primary purpose of the members joining the scheme was to get a commission from enrolments and not for the products. They extensively advertised their commission model in which very high commissions were paid to sponsoring members for enrolment of new members.”
BizGurukul affiliates often mislead young people by showing how they earn money in lakhs in a month, as well as by purchasing expensive accessories like iPhones, laptops, and cars. By doing so, they encourage people to take up BizGurukul courses and register quickly.
It is pertinent here to quote the cautionary note issued by the Reserve Bank of India on 1 January 2015: “The Reserve Bank of India has cautioned the public against Multi-level Marketing (MLM) activities so that investors do not fall prey to unscrupulous entities.”
Explaining the functioning of these entities, the Reserve Bank stated that MLM, chain marketing or pyramid structure schemes promise easy or quick money upon enrolment of members. Income under such schemes majorly comes from enrolling more and more members from whom hefty subscription fees are taken rather than from the sale of products they offer.
It is incumbent upon all members to enrol more members, as a portion of the subscription amounts so collected is distributed among the members at the top of the pyramid. Any break in the chain leads to the collapse of the pyramid, and the members lower down in the pyramid are the ones that are affected the most.
The Reserve Bank has advised that members of the public should not be tempted by promises of high returns offered by entities running multi-level marketing, chain marketing and pyramid structure schemes. The Reserve Bank has reiterated that falling prey to such offers can result in direct financial losses and they, in their own interest, should refrain from responding to such offers in any manner.
The Reserve Bank has also said that acceptance of money under multi-level marketing, chain marketing and pyramid structure schemes is a cognizable offence under the Prize Chit and Money Circulation (Banning) Act 1978. Members of public coming across such offers should immediately lodge a complaint with the State Police.”
UPDATE: On 26 July 2021, Moneylife had sent emails to BizGurukul’s available emails on its websites seeking answers to some specific questions. After nearly 15 days, Kartik Dang, business support head of BizGurukul, replied to our questions.
Here are questions asked by Moneylife and the response (verbatim) given by Mr Dang from BizGurukul...
1. What is the churning ratio of affiliates? On average, how many affiliates join and leave BizGurukul in a 12-months period? What is the affiliates' retention rate in this line of marketing?
BizGurukul's Reply: Bizgurukul is an e-learning platform providing excellent skill development courses. Users enrol for the paid courses provided by us and get a lifetime access to the courses designed by our experienced panel of trainers. BizGurukul believes in the holistic development of the learners. Therefore, along with the courses, we also provide them several live-training sessions every month for their career development and growth into various areas and aspects of life. Some of the training sessions that we have conducted include topics such as email etiquettes, financial planning, public relation skills, emotional well-being, decision making skills, grooming skills, oral hygiene, eye health care, diet & health etc.
Users enrol to learn and apply the skills taught in the courses in multiple ways like freelancing, starting their own digital agencies, earning from social media through influencer marketing etc. The enrolled users have an option to become our affiliate and promote these courses, only if they wish to do so. Hence, there is no fixed number of the users who opt to become an affiliate, or continuing the affiliate promotions as it is up to their own free will. Whether the users work as an affiliate or not, they still get lifetime access to our courses, other resources and training.
As of now, we have approximately 70,000 users enrolled and learning with us. Every user is a learner but not necessarily an affiliate.
2. What is the average amount, an affiliate typically earns in a year?
BizGurukul's Reply: The tenure for which an affiliate promotes the product is unpredictable. The income also varies according to the interest and efforts of an individual affiliate. Although, it is not possible to share the exact figure, but a reasonably active affiliate earns approximately 2.5 to 3.5 lacs per annum. Again, it entirely depends upon the user's choice to earn by referring the course or not. Bizgurukul is a learning platform where the users enrol for learning the skills and not marketing/earning which is just an option only.
3. How many affiliates earn less than Rs1 lakh as commission in a year?
BizGurukul's Reply: That's our confidential data, we may not be able to disclose the specifics.
4. What is the maximum amount an affiliate has earned in a year as commission through your marketing scheme?
BizGurukul's Reply: Please make note that we are not running any marketing scheme here. We are an edtech platform focussed on quality education, consistently upgrading and adding new courses as per the need of digital entrepreneurs. We are also planning to add hundreds of skill development courses that are concurrent with the ongoing market and career demands. Just like many other edtech platforms like Udemy, Unacademy etc. which are operational in the market, we also offer our users an option to promote our courses and earn referral commissions. A learner who likes the courses and opts to promote it, gets referral incentive, which is of course not the primary or only motive to join the courses offered. As per our record/ information, the maximum amount earned by one of our affiliates is approximately 45 lakhs rupees in an approximate period of over a year.
5. Are the products sold by BizGurukul priced competitively? If not, how much is the difference? Is it true that these products are costlier by over 100% than similar products available in the market since BizGurukul you claim to provide lots of money as commission?
BizGurukul's Reply: Our products are definitely priced competitively.
It would be unfair to state that our courses are overpriced.
We have made the courses highly affordable and provide more value than the amount we charge for them.
Our commission percentages are similar as compared to what international and prominent affiliate programs like 'clickbank' provide on digital products like courses, ebooks, digital tools etc. Since the courses need to be created once and the cost of maintenance is very low, we are able to provide a good amount of commission on the courses. It absolutely in no manner implies that the cost of the courses are high due to high affiliate commissions being offered. In fact the quality of the content provided in our courses is much higher in value as compared to the price and the competitors.
6. Who has certified your training programs/webinars? Is there any certification from UGC or any other regulatory body in India?
BizGurukul's Reply: BizGurukul is a registered private company offering e-learning courses. Our courses, training and webinars need no affiliation or certifications from any regulatory body as we do not provide any school/ college degrees or any technical education. Like many other edtech start-ups in the country, we are offering skill development courses designed and conducted by professionals who have experience in the specific field. We take utmost care and due diligence in selecting the subject-matter expert trainer for our courses. We do provide a certificate of completion to our students for the courses they complete after they clear an online test for the same.
7. If someone decided the direct selling business is not for him, what is the refund policy of BizGurukul?
BizGurukul's Reply: To make it clear, we are not a direct selling organisation. Affiliate marketing is entirely different from direct selling.
We are an e-learning platform where we charge only for the courses from our users and provide a refund policy of 24 hours, which is clearly mentioned on the website home page and on our registration page through which a person registers himself as a user/ learner with us. It is only after agreeing to our terms & conditions and refund policy can one make payment to register/ enrol with us for our courses.
We take no charges/ investment whatsoever for our affiliate program. It is completely optional for our users to refer our courses. The option to become an affiliate is available only to our customers because we want only genuine referrals/promotions to be done which only a customer can do after using the courses i.e. studying our courses in our case. The same model is followed by a number of trainers, coaches and edtech platforms running across the globe.
8. On your website, you stated, "Unlike MLM/ Network Marketing/ Chain Systems/ Pyramid Schemes: 1. You get commission only for the sales made directly by you through your personal link & efforts. 2. You don't get paid for the sale made by any affiliate who registered with BizGurukul through your link."
You are selling the Gold product for Rs3,499, however, you are offering a commission of Rs2,000 to an affiliate who sells this product. How's this possible or how can you offer more than 60% as commission?
BizGurukul's Reply: Please refer to the answer to Question 5 for the same.
9. On social media, your affiliates are seen marketing your products with an offer to earn monthly Rs50,000 for 'anyone' by working 2-3 hours daily. Does this mean, your products do not require to have a basic or minimum education qualification for an affiliate?
BizGurukul's Reply: We offer skill development courses and to learn these skills there is no need for any prior educational qualification. To become our affiliate, the customer needs to have a valid photo id proof and PAN for TDS deduction purposes. We also provide proper disclaimer on the website and in our webinars about our affiliate marketing program and earning claims.
(Harshita Shah is a student of law and is strongly convinced that there is no easy money.)