Uttarakhand Floods Update 8: Red FM Interview

Red Fm Mumbai interviewed us to find out what we will be doing in Uttarakhand Floods and what are the things we need and how you can support us.

Just to re-emphasize We need money,things ( utensils, solar lanterns and torches) and volunteers.

You can listen to the interview here. Long live the radio.

Part 1

Part 2:


Uttarakhand Floods: Volunteers needed

Thanks to more than 150 donors we have raised close to 12 lacs of Rupees for the Uttarakhand relief and reconstruction.

We are in regular touch with our volunteers and contacts in the hills. As per discussion with our contact people on the site … army personnel, coordinators of relief material distribution; lot of relief material is heading simultaneously to the areas. The scarcity of resources might just be covered already if these materials are distributed effectively. With that, the next level of activities will need more focus. Assessing the situation first and then taking actions will be more sensible than doing a one time activity now without knowing its need.  Keeping this in mind we will be sending the first team of volunteers to assess the situation on the ground in the next 2 weeks or so. Only after this we will be deciding how to best use this money.

We also envisage that we will require lots of volunteers in our second phased. We will need volunteers  who will be willing to travel to remote villages, assess situation on the ground and detail out the needs of the villages.We hope to dispatch these volunteers by 30th  of August for a period of 2 weeks.  So if you would like to volunteer and can spend 15 days in the hills then do let us know by filling the form. Please note that we will not be able to to bear your expenses for this trip. So only apply knowing that you will have to cover your expenses.

Volunteers who are selected for need assessment in the villages will be provided training by iVolunteer in Delhi before they go. 

Click here to apply


Uttarakhand Floods- What we must do

I feel the most important thing is that we must do something. Action will be more powerful that a million words.

Like any disaster, this will play out in the mind of the people for a few more days till the channels are beaming images and then something else will become news. So before that happen we need to galvanise support for the people of Uttarakhand.

Here are some of the ways in which we can help

1) Donate money: Money will needed and lots of it will be needed. Once the relief phase is over, money will be needed to re-build lives. There are many ways in which you can donate. For instance you can donate to PM relief fund, or through http://www.giveindia.org or many such efforts. A small effort that me with a few volunteers is   available here. Our appeal is to give donations to building lives after the initial days of frenzy is over. You can access the link here.http://em.explara.com/event/flood-relief-uttarakhand. So far we have raised 45k. We need to get to 10 lacs.

2) Donate in kind: What is needed is medicines, food grains, container to store water, warm clothes. Please do not send summer clothes or western clothes. Its unlikely that people will use them. And no torn clothes or expired stuff either. My friend Anshu Gupta from Goonj is leading the effort in this. Please find them here http://goonj.org/. And Goonj also needs money to transport stuff from Delhi to the hills.

3) Volunteer: If you would like to volunteer in the hills for some time then let me know and I will connect you to relevant organisations. We need doctors and people who can build things.

My Startups- Lessons learned

11 years after IRMA  3 start ups out of which 2 were personal failure doesn’t make me an authority on start ups but it does gives me some insights into what went wrong. My mistakes are  particularly precious to me because I try very hard not to make the same mistakes twice ( or in some cases thrice).

Here are some lessons that I learned

1) Work for at-least 2-3 years: Starting fresh from out of college  like I did might sound like a cool thing but getting a couple of years of experience in a proper organisation is extremely valuable. While there are advantages of starting fresh like not getting used to a corporate salary and perks but they don’t come close to getting experience of working in a formal set up.

2) Don’t work with people you have never worked before: Pick your co-founders carefully. My first start up ( www.ivolunteer.in) worked out well because the three co-founders had studied together in IRMA and were part of numerous class assignments. We learned about each other’s work style, strength and weaknesses and were able to support each other. In other two I was not so lucky. The worst situation for everyone in a start up is when you don’t like each other’s work styles. And I have been there at-least once.

3) You can’t run a business part time : This is the worst mistake that I made is that started the other two companies thinking that I will be able to  give time to them while continuing in present organisation. Very soon I was dealing with conflicting priorities. Don’t try make something that can be good hobby into business if you cannot spend 8-10 hours on it.

4) Start working on customer database right from day one : Once you are in business this becomes your most valuable asset. Don’t wait for even a single day to start this. Once you reach some sort of scale this is the most difficult thing to start. This is our biggest pain point at iVolunteer.

5) Learn to say NO: Wrong YES sucks away time money and attention. If you don’t like some idea or proposition so NO and walk away.

6) Move ON: When things don’t work out don’t burn bridges- walk out with grace. Move ON.

7) Pretend like a big business: Don’t save money on getting good logo, website, cards etc.  Save money in paying yourself less, travelling by train etc etc.

8) Don’t scale in a hurry: Actually don’t worry about it at all. Remember unless you are absolutely sure don’t fret your energies over scaling up. Done in a hurry scale impinges on quality.

9) Love it and love every moment of it: Do things from heart. Believe me the customer can feel it when you are interested only in his money and not in him. And have fun. What’s the point of doing it anyways if you are not having any fun doing it. You might as well get a job.

10) Narrower you focus the bigger you become: Focus narrowly and you will be hugely rewarded. Focus everywhere and you will be lost. We dropped 3 well paying things to focus on volunteering and it has been hugely rewarding for us.

11) Please don’t give up. I have failed but I have not given up. My newest venture is a walking holiday outfit called viawalks .Currently its more of a hobby and I won’t call it a business till I have quit whatever else I’m doing. Because I’m clear about what I want viawalks to achieve I’m loving every moment of it. You can read more about it at www.viawalks.wordpress.com