Interview with Chander Thareja, founder of Intellemind Technologies, a startup on the BfE Programme.
A. What motivated you to start Intellemind Technologies?
Four years back, a friend of mine invited me to join her for blanket distribution in slums. It was a Sat evening and my movie plan had cancelled. I joined her. I really enjoyed the activity. I became part of the group. We used to work for an old age home (Earth Saviours Foundation) and an orphanage (Bal Vihar). We used to identify their item requirements, collect those items from people and give it to these NGOs. In many cases, we bought new items and gave to the people served by these NGOs. We did not give cash as we were not sure if all of it would reach the needy. We started to expand. One drug de-addiction center approached us and asked us to help them. Slowly our volunteer base grew to 75 people. I am a techie. I always know we have to use technology to scale this model that was working well. I sensed there is a huge global opportunity to make a substantial difference. I resigned from RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) to start this :) We conducted an extensive search on the Internet. There are many portals that allow donors to give cash against a cause/project. Giveindia.org is one such example. We came across select NGOs who listed their item requirements on their website, such as Goonj. We did not, however, come across a portal that listed the item requirements of NGOs across a range of causes, locations and item categories that a donor could choose from. Moreover, we did not come across a portal that leverages the rapidly expanding e-commerce space to fulfill item requirements of NGOs. From speaking with donors including corporates and individuals, we found that people are willing to donate but simply don’t know of a painless and transparent way to do this and that there is a large segment of donors who prefer donating items as against cash. We also conducted research on the e-commerce space in India- which is soon going to expand to become the largest in the world. People are getting more and more used to buying on-line and e-commerce companies, with their extensive logistic s networks, are making it more and more easy for consumers to make purchases. Through, Donate Items, we are looking to leverage the growing e-commerce space including their efficient logistics set-up to serve a good cause. In the case of used items we realized that people are firstly not used to the concept of donating used items through an on-line portal and secondly, most people are not aware of good causes and NGOs, located close to their homes, that might benefit from their donation. We sense tremendous opportunity to make it convenient and faster for people to donate new and used items. We have conducted a small pilot with Teach For India’s centers in Pune and Hydrabad to test our model and assumptions.
B. How did Bridges for Enterprise give you the opportunity to act upon these motivations?
The journey of a startup is more difficult than I thought. There are so many aspects that need to be worked on with so little resources at hand. Specially in our case of a social startup where we are introducing a completely new way in which people look at donations. It is not possible for us to achieve this without support of several like minded partners, volunteers, employees, vendors, service providers. Association with 'Brides for Enterprise' gives us confidence and hope. It gives us a sense that we are not alone in this journey. We have got good support from you and 180 degree consulting so far. We value your association. We appreciate that you are putting in time and effort to make us successful. Thank you.
C. What words of encouragement would you like to give to others?
We are in this world for a maximum period of 100 years or less. If you think about what made you truly happy in the past, you will realize it is not when you accumulate big cars, luxury or houses for yourself. True happiness is in serving others, making someone happy. There are so many growing issues related to poverty, income inequality, violence, diseases, unemployment, education, global warming, hunger etc. We need more people who can dedicate their time towards solving these issues. In return, there is a lot of happiness, joy and fulfillment in doing this. Together, let's do whatever we can to make this world a better place. Stay Blessed.