What’s an entrepreneur if not competitive? Always striving for that extra mile, driven by something nobody else can see.
And what’s an entrepreneurial journey without a good competition to get these 500+ entrepreneurs buzzing?
The Biz Gyan Tree is an annual business modelling exercise first started in 2009, where the yatris are divided into different verticals (or Key Focus Areas) as per their interests, and are made to create sustainable solutions to the challenges of rural India.
The focus is on the seven verticals, as mentioned below:
The process of BGT is divided into two phases: On the train, during the yatra, and second, residency program that begins post-yatra.
On the train, each group presents a business plan – which is feasible from a technical and financial point of view. This happens in a village called Barpar, near Deoria, where they make use of all resources available (which are admittedly scarce, hence teaching them resourcefulness) to present a sound business strategy that has been analyzed from every angle.
Their ideas are rigorously tested, and winners are handpicked for the residency program. The winners are invited back to Deoria and build a detailed business plan, as well as validate their assumptions.
If you are visiting a new place in India, you typically hire a guide who takes you around the major tourist attractions, takes some pictures, and lets you go. By the end of it, you’ve visited the place as a tourist, and yearn to get the pulse of the place. This yearning to experience a new place as a native has given birth to a lot of new-age travel start-ups in India. Because in a guided tour of major attractions, one would have never known how a native experiences that place. One wouldn’t have got the chance to know the culture and unique practices or one might have missed that yummy street food in that locality or a cycle tour in a city. Wouldn’t it be better if one had a friend who could have taken him all around the city and help one get the feel of the place he is visiting? Tapping this niche segment by offering the local flavor of the place with the help of a local greeter, an interesting new-age travel enterprise ‘Padhaaro’ was launched by a group of young, passionate travel enthusiasts in 2012.
Wouldn’t it be better if one had a friend who could have taken him all around the city and help one get the feel of the place he is visiting?
Tapping this niche segment by offering the local flavor of the place with the help of a local greeter, an interesting new-age travel enterprise ‘Padhaaro’ was launched by a group of young, passionate travel enthusiasts in 2012.
Padhaaro offers local tour services through the eyes of a native expert which otherwise one wouldn’t have explored. It is a curator of travel experiences beyond standardized tourist itineraries.
“The idea was born when I was traveling in Moscow after attending a youth forum in 2011 and couldn’t figure out what to do and how to explore the city really well. And what’s better than having a knowledgeable local who knows the city and has expertise to deliver the right experience?” asks Ish Jindal, co-founder of Padhaaro. By then, having travelled in Jagriti Yatra 2010, he was already part of the amazing yatri network and he speaks high of it in his entrepreneurial journey. The thought evolved after they came back and started it as a volunteer-based model. They bootstrapped their venture for a while and are now funded by Morpheus, a start-up accelerator which is mentoring them as well.
The model is designed in such a way that both the tourists and greeters are connected and benefit from it. The revenue model is through a certain cut on every experience booked. Apart from creating a network of locals whom tourists can trust, it could also help locals to incentivize their skill sets and talents in their interactions with tourists. This would enable greeters to be micro-entrepreneurs as well. In the longer run, when locals sell their hometown well, tourists go back home with a happy experience, which augurs well for tourism in the country.
Padhaaro’s primary customers are foreign tourists who contribute about 75% to their customer base. The Bengaluru-based start-up has now expanded to 18 cities and has to deal with competition as a number of startups are cropping up in this space. According to Ish, “Customer acquisition has been a challenge all through and in
According to Ish, “Customer acquisition has been a challenge all through and with Airbnb expanding in this, the competition is tough.”
Padhaaro’s larger vision is to make the discovery of travel experiences easier, safer, local and social and a very memorable one.
Someone wisely said, “Travel far enough, and you’ll eventually find yourself.”
This is what happened with Vaishali, a textile designer, when she decided to quit her unsatisfying job and travel.
In 2007, she backpacked across India (before it was a trend), and met with “the real, genuine people of the country.” She volunteered with a rural NGO in Himachal Pradesh for almost a year, where she got to understand the challenges faced by them first-hand.
It was here a seed was born. She wanted to help underprivileged women break the vicious cycle of poverty, domestic violence, and illiteracy. She finished her MBA in Social Entrepreneurship, where she heard of Jagriti Yatra.
“I was very inspired because impacting lives was what I’d always wanted to know more about. I had no direction, but I had hope. At Jagriti, I interacted with a lot of peers, and met with role-models. It was an eye-opener, knowing that you could make this much impact, especially without being a societal outcast, which was very unheard of, back in 2009, in the kind of community I hail from. It gave me friendships and memories that have transcended time and distance. They’re always around…they were the first guests on my wedding list.”
2010: After coming back from Jagriti, Srujna was born.
It is a not-for-profit that aims at assisting underprivileged women through skill-training, business training, and linking them to markets and opportunities. Since 2010, it has generated jobs worth INR 1.6 Million for more than 5000 underprivileged women.
“I know it seems like we are helping them but the truth is, they are the ones changing our lives.”
While starting Srujna in Maharashtra, she met women who knew how to sew, knit, and embroider, but did not possess the business skills to make it a viable, sustainable source of income. Her professional knowledge helped them in production, and reach a wider audience. Her vision through Srujna is to create a world where every woman has the resources and the ability to live a meaningful life.
“They get confidence from this. They derive their identity from this. Surprisingly, money is a secondary concern for them. I knew right there and then that this is what I want to do the rest of my life. Even now when I think about what we do, the impact we are making, the point of it…it all boils down to their stories in the end.”
Love travelling but on a low budget, then choose a Backpacker’s Hostel. One such Hostel was set up by our yatris, and had named it AAO HOSTELS.
Mahendra Pyati, Yatri 2009 along with his friend Saurabh Jain, Yatri 2011 piloted this idea in Nashik for a month and formally launched in Bangalore in 2015 as a private limited company. Pyati, who is a traveler by passion, has felt the dearth of such shared accommodation in India. He observes that such hostels are very few in number in India unlike 50-60 such hostels in a European city. “The idea to start up was there since some time, but it got kick started when I was travelling in the Yatra”, says Pyati, who is an IT professional as well. He adds, numerous discussions in the Yatra have also helped him.
It offers decent accommodation (20-bed) with a host of services and helps travelers have cultural exchange too. On an average, about 400 people visit this centrally located hostel in Koramangala, Bangalore every month. Set up with a limited budget, AAO Hostel’s journey has been smooth and registered profit in its first year. It has won funding from the Karnataka Government’s Idea2POC fund in a hackathon titled ‘Pitch to the Government’ in September 2016. This would enable them to scale up. They are currently building up an e-commerce platform for such hostels in India. Pyati says that they are willing to help others to set up their own hostel ventures and are also working with the Karnataka Government in bringing up a policy for Hostels.
The next time you visit Bangalore, don’t miss to check in AAO HOSTELS as it’s an ideal place for Budget, solo travelers, and Backpackers! Travel More, Stay in Hostels More.
“If you dare to dream and go against all odds, then get RAWed”, says Alysha Tharani, the youngster who set up Raw Dreams Consultancy.
With an aim to encourage different aspirations of individuals, be it education, or career. With the help of Leadership Consultancy guides or mentors, Raw Dreams facilitates young minds of 13-28 year old into making informed potential investments in their careers. She wants to solve the mismatch between market demand and supply of skilled, innovative and futuristic human resources.
Alysha Tharani shares, “One of the aspirants was interested in becoming an astronaut, Raw Dreams guided him to participate in a competition that paved his path to Mecca of astronauts. Because of his exemplary performance, he was invited to NASA to meet all the existing and aspiring scientists. He definitely has better clarity and direction to pursue his goal now. For those who are not very clear about their career options, we guide them based on their interests.”
As a young girl, Alysha was fascinated by animals and studied BiPC(Biology, Physics and Chemistry) in plus2 and graduated with a liberal arts degree. Later on, she worked with business consulting firms and founded an Event Management company. She pursued Future India Fellowship and travelled in Jagriti Yatra 2009. What she studied was completely different from what she was aspiring to do. She realised that as a child, she had no clear guidance or awareness to follow her heart and found the same dearth for guidance for students even today. Alysha says Jagriti Yatra made her less hesitant and gave access to a wonderful network. All of these experiences led to the birth of her venture in 2014.
With its base in Hyderabad, Raw Dreams has extended its operations to Chattisgarh and Maharashtra and reached over 4000 people till date. If it was her innovative idea that gave a challenge in the initial phase, the current challenge is to build the network of mentors and to let this human intensive organisation expand.
Jagriti Yatra is a 15-day journey in a train that you end up thinking of as home; that leaves its 500+ tenants changed forever.
In fact, the Indian railways is used by 22 million passengers to travel across a 1,15,000-km network, every day.
To put it in perspective, 120+ countries in the world have their total population LESS than 22 million.
The railways’ website alone receives over 10L hits per minute.
And hundreds of thousands of these million passengers every day deal with a waiting list instead of a confirmed seat. How many times have you faced the same situation? Going home for Diwali vacation? Oops, waiting.
Important interview for a college?
What do you do? What if it doesn’t get confirmed? Should I go ahead and try for a flight anyway? Or do I leave my fate up to chance? The problem that every second common man has to face on a daily basis.
Well, not anymore.
Vineet Kumar Chirania, a 2011 yatri has developed an app called Trainman that provides the intelligence to tell you the probability of your ticket getting confirmed. It is intelligence, combined with information. The app provides you everything you need about your train ticket – using your PNR number, it will tell you the average delays and coach positions, as well as any changes. It also uses a large dataset of the train itself with higher accuracy of prediction.
With daily visits of over two lakh, the startup is partnering with some other players to offer services such as food delivery and bookings.
And all of this started with another train journey, a trip called Jagriti Yatra.
Inspired by his colleague who took the Yatra in 2009 and came back a changed man, Vineet took a chance and signed up.
The idea sparked then. He was in a comfortable job, but his interactions with other entrepreneurs aboard the Yatra train shifted his perceptions about putting expertise to use. He describes it as a crash course MBA.
For him, the Yatra brought him face-to-face with problems of different strata of society. In Patna, he learnt the value of sustainability, while in Rajasthan, Bunkar Roy(Barefoot College) taught him about empowering the common man. The most important part, however, was learning not to take people – and their stories – for granted. The lessons that he learnt whilst on Jagriti Yatra, paved the path to Trainman.
Here’s to your story, Vineet! May you create many more of them.
Unsure about your ticket confirmation, don’t sweat, just visit www.trainman.in or download the application your application store(available for all the mobile platforms).
For 28-year-old activist and travelpreneur, Akram, to travel is to, literally, live. He has been on the road constantly since 2009 and has bicycled, hitch-hiked, trekked, and walked almost 32,000 kilometers across India.
It all started with Jagriti Yatra, a 15-day long train journey that he undertook in 2009. Hailing from a small town, he was an engineering student, trying desperately not to end up in the rat race, but unable to find a way to break free. At the yatra, he felt for the first time, like he belonged.
“After being alone most of my life in my thought process, there were suddenly 500 people around me who were as insane – if not one step further – as was me! It was exhilarating.”
It was an eye-opening experience for Akram, who made sure to capitalize on this opportunity. The next step was the final plunge, he dropped out of his college, and he pursued what was really dear to him, performing arts while he travelled. As he covered various stretches on his journey, he shared his ideas with the people he met on the way, breaking regional and language barriers.
He started The Cycle Natak, a one-man natak mandli, with barely 300 rupees in his pocket, but an immense faith in humanity to sustain him. And has it paid off!
Complete strangers, and of course, the immense Yatri network, has stepped in at every junction to offer him food, accommodation, opportunities, and of course, validation.
“I once lost my phone while I was cycling near Chennai. A few of my friends pooled money and bought me another one immediately. They even bought me a camera for my birthday this January,” says Akram. To support his travel, Akram at times has run Kickstarter campaigns to generate funds, and to his awe, each of his campaigns has received an immense support.
At this exclusive interview, we asked him about his life as a nomad and the wonderful thrills and challenges associated with it.
“One of my biggest challenges continues to be society’s expectations of what it considers as normal. And I definitely don’t fit in those bounds of a normal person. My family constantly faces questions about the kind of lifestyle I lead and the small size of my wallet. I belong to a very small town – nobody there has ever experienced anything like it! I am lucky my family accepts me for who I am, without judgment.”
Being on the road constantly is another battle. He’s faced terrible accidents but made sure he showed up for the performance the next day. Backaches from traveling cross-country on a bike in terrible winters, or endless bus rides through the hills, nausea, headache…it’s a struggle to not let physical pain detract from the joys of new experiences.
One of the life’s biggest twists happened when he decided to launch a campaign for a world without borders through theater.
And was arrested two days before India’s Independence Day. He was “illegally detained” for a week in Rajasthan simply because police thought he seemed “suspicious”. He was at the Rajasthan border, inquiring about the further movement to the restricted area when the police arrested him.
He was kept in the police station in the name of interrogation and several agencies such as IB, and RAW grilled him on various issues.
He was kept in custody for three days, while his family ran pillar to post, looking up all contacts who could help release him.
It was the most traumatic time of his life, both physically and emotionally.
But the show must go on.
Akram is currently planning an Africa Caravan, in order to take his travels to Africa, and shall be back soon with new stories! At Jagriti Yatra, we understand how not all those who wander are lost, and truly commend Akram’s spirit. He is a true inspiration for all of us sitting at our office desks.
A hall swarming with more than 400 women, flashing smart phones and tablets, and capturing everything that is going on the stage. A Yatri entrepreneur who has built her business to over 2 Crore revenue, sharing her journey of enterprise from a small village in Maharashtra. Laying the foundation for a world-class Enterprise Centre that aims to cater to a 70-million strong region. A humble beginning but positive ambition to ‘build India through enterprise’.
All of this was not happening in Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. But in a Tier 3 district of ‘Middle India’ – Deoria in Purvanchal – where Jagriti is building an enterprise ecosystem. And the occasion was the 8th edition of Jagriti Annual Independence Day Weekend Conclave.
The first day of the Conclave, 13th August, saw Internet Saathis – a cadre of digitally trained and equipped women who will train 3.4 million rural women across 7 districts of Purvanchal – constituting a majority of the 700-strong audience. The day was themed around ‘women empowerment through enterprise’. The day started with a speech where I reminded and challenged the citizens of Purvanchal of our duty to participate in the re-building of Purvanchal. I invoked the spirit of Mangal Pandey who hails from this revolutionary area. You can read the speech here. The Jagriti Enterprise Centre – Purvanchal’s flagstone was unveiled by our esteemed guests. Through this Centre, Jagriti aims to generate 40,000 local employment opportunities and inject more than 600 crores in the local ecosystem by incubating 2400 enterprises over a 7 year period.
Vanita Viswanath, advisory board member of Jagriti and former CEO of Udyogini, brought out the challenges of women entrepreneurship in the Tier 2 & 3 districts of the country through a panel discussion. Panelists included Pooja Sahi, a Deoria resident and founder of Deoria Designs; Savita Mundhe, founder of Rajlakshmi Foods based in Vadali of Maharashtra and a Yatri; and Vrundan Bawankar, manager at Pawan Public School in Nagpur and a Yatri. Indrajit Shaw and Suvarna from Jagriti team presented the Internet Saathi program to the audience and invited few Saahis to share their experience. The sight of confident and passionate women with smartphones, sharing their experiences before a brimming hall made us realise that we are on the brink of something path-breaking. The opportunity to change the lives of rural women through Internet Saathi program is unprecedented. And Jagriti is delighted to be at the forefront of this revolution in Purvanchal; thanks to our partners – Google and Tata Trusts. Farhan Akhtar’s song ‘Choo le aasmaan’, which is now the theme song for Internet Saathi, concluded the session on an energetic note.
The second day, 14th August, was marked with informative sessions for the local small and medium entrepreneurs. Moderated by Ashutosh Kumar, Executive Director of JEC-P the first panel discussion dived into the ‘challenges, insights and perspectives on regional incubation’. The panelists were Dr. Sunil Shukla, Director of Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI); Prof. Satyajit Majumdar, Chairperson for the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at TISS; and Vanita Viswanath. ‘Challenges and opportunities in agribusinesses’ was the topic for he second panel discussion, moderated by Amit Raj, Executive Director of JEN. The panelists were Vijay Pratap Singh Aditya, founder of Ek Gaon; AP Mishra, founder of Kautuki Agro Products; and Shriram Singh, an expert in agribusiness market and a Yatri. AP Mishra also explained the role of milk supply chain in rural economy and offered support to the local entrepreneurs to participate in the this growing network. Hari Bhardwaj, formerly with Amazon, talked about the power of e-commerce in creating market access for the local businesses. Finally, Shashank Mani and Ashutosh Kumar laid the vision for Jagriti Enterprise Centre – Purvanchal and ‘Naya Deoria’ (an urbanization planning for Deoria). Together with EDI and TISS we plan to make our annual visit to Delhi, when the train stops a ‘Celebrate the ordinary Entrepreneur’ event.
I am pleased to declare that we have started to get financial support from well-wishers for the corpus required for building the Jagriti Enterprise Centre – Purvanchal. The Flag hoisting ceremony on 15th was held at the Banyan Tree, the symbol of Jagriti in Barpar village where we have acquired a 5 acre piece of land for the centre. With Trupti Doshi, a Yatri and the architect of the centre in Gorakhpur, we spent time looking at architectural details of the centre and also met with builders who we are shortlisting for the centre. We are keen to get support from well-wishers for the funding of this centre, the details of which are outlined here. Please contact Ashutosh Kumar in case you can help financially, in kind or through intellectual inputs towards this centre. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Conclave strengthens our resolve to focus on ‘Middle India’ – Tier II and Tier III districts – where 58% of India resides. This focus with an enterprise formula can propel this district, Purvanchal as a region, and our nation towards growth and development, an aim Jagriti is committed to. On behalf of Jagriti, I would like to thank all the guest speakers who travelled from different corners of the country to participate in the Conclave. I extend my thanks to Sharat Bansal and Surendra Sharma, Advisors to Jagriti for gracing the occasion with their presence. A heartfelt thanks to the organizing team who pulled together the biggest Conclave so far – Ashutosh, Amit, Indrajit, Vaishali, Ram, Suvarna, MD, and Dheeraj from Jagriti; and Vicky, Vijay, Harinder, Ashwini, Abhishek, and Sanjay from the local Jagriti Sewa Sansthan. Finally, our gratitude to Shashi Tripathi, my mother who founded Jagriti Sewa Sansthan and all the citizens of Deoria who are now aware of the power of Building India through Enterprise.
We are at Abira, a business set up by one of our alumni- Priyanka Khandelwal. Abira creates fashion jewellery, but more importantly, creates independent, confident craftswomen. We are received with great enthusiasm by the Abira team- Abiras as Priyanka calls them.
Priyanka, tells us about how she began her enterprise. She was working with Anju Bansal in a jewellery-making business that sourced products from China. Priyanka, wanted to create this high quality jewellery in India by training women from lower economic backgrounds and with no previous experience. This was a big challenge, which she overcame by working together with the women she hired and trained. When Priyanka hires her Abiras, she looks for nothing more than the desire to work hard. The year-long training program builds on inherent skills and channels the women into jewellery-making, quality-control, marketing, accounts etc. But what is unique is how Priyanka develops the women’s personalities by teaching communication skills , teamwork and leadership. This for-profit organisation has the soul of a social enterprise.
The work areas are clean and cheerful. The walls are full of professional shots of the Abiras, modelling the jewellery they have created . They look stunning. The photographs too, are taken by one of them- an Abira training to be a photographer. There are 25 women working with Priyanka today and she plans to grow her business by also training women to be carers for the elderly as well as for children.
Priyanka invites the Abiras to speak. Each is surprisingly articulate and confident. They speak emotionally about how financial independence through jewellery-making is just a part of what they have gained at Abira. They have found a voice, they have found companionship and they have found the ability to live their dreams. We are moved by their heartfelt words. The impact Priyanka’s enterprise is creating is obvious.
I am reminded of the solar engineer grandmothers of the Barefoot college at Tilonia whom we meet during the Yatra. It’s the same joyful spirit and confidence that we see here. No coincidence, as the Barefoot college was a great inspiration to Priyanka when she joined the Jagriti Yatra in 2013 as a Yatri, and again in 2015 as a voluntary organiser – a part of the engine room club ERC.
The Jagriti Yatra, is an intense experiential program that inspires future young entrepreneurs to build India through enterprise. It takes the form of a 15 day pan-India journey of learning and inspiration. Each year at least 40% participants are women and 65 % from tier 3, 4 districts. After the 15 days, we organise mentorship workshops to sustain and build on the Yatra learnings. In March, we organise the Jagriti Sakhi Udyogini – events to promote women-centric enterprise, as well as networking and mentoring among Yatra alumni.
The audience today is mainly composed of Yatra Alumni and interestingly, there are more men than women. An informal discussion begins and I see networking in action. One Yatri recommends the latest NSDC programs to Priyanka. Another suggests mentors for her next horizon- training women for senior- care. Yet another puts her in touch with a potential investor. Many ask questions to understand her financial model and growth strategy and share lessons from their own ventures. All are energised by what Priyanka has created.
The event ends with delicious wada- paav, the Yatri Geet and a feeling of joy. The Yatra spirit is rekindled. I congratulate Priyanka on what she has created and wish her luck. Her response is simple – “ It’s all the effect of the Yatra”. The effort of hundreds of selfless volunteers that make the Yatra, is validated once again. The journey goes on.
“दम लगा, उद्यम बिठा.” “पूरे होंगे स्वप्न-हज़ार, पनपेगा जब उद्यम-विचार.” “ज़ोर लगा के हईशा, उद्यम बिठा के बढ़ता जा.” ऐसी ही कई सारी पंक्तियाँ जागृति रेल यात्रा-2015 के दौरान भावी उद्यमियों से भरी इस रेल के प्रत्येक डिब्बे में मौजूद शौचालयों के बाहर लगाई गई थीं। आपके डिब्बे के शौचालय के बाहर भी आपको ऐसी कोई न कोई पंक्ति ज़रूर मिली होगी।
इस प्रयास के पीछे का उद्देश्य भी यही था कि जब भी यात्री नित्य-क्रिया के लिए शौचालय के आस-पास पहुंचें तो उस समय भी उन्हें ऐसी कुछ रचनात्मक पंक्तियों को देखकर मुस्कुराने और लगातार अपने नये विचार को खंगालते रहने की ऊर्जा मिल सके। यदि ध्यान देकर सोचिये तो आप पायेंगे कि अक्सर ही बड़े-बड़े रचनात्मक विचार आपको शौचालय में बैठकर ही आते हैं, बस इसी विचार ने जागृति-यात्रा की सोशल मीडिया टीम को इस ओर सोचने और ऐसा रचनात्मक एवं मनोरंजक प्रयोग करने का विचार दिया। आइये उन पंक्तियों पर ज़रा एक नज़र डालते हैं जिन्हें देखकर आप कभी मुस्कुरा पड़े तो कभी अपने साथियों के बीच हंस-हंस कर लोट-पोट होते रहे तो कभी उन्हें अपनी तस्वीरों में सहेजने का प्रयास भी किया। इस पर कुछ यात्रियों की प्रतिक्रिया भी रिकॉर्ड करने की हमने कोशिश की जो कि इस ऑडियो क्लिप में मौजूद हैं। इसे सुनिये और अपनी यादें ताज़ा करके आप भी अपनी प्रतिक्रिया दीजिये कि आपको ये पंक्तियाँं कैसी लगीं ।
खाओ पापड़ चखो अचार, मन में लाओ उद्यम-विचार ।
हल्के होने के दौरान ही सबसे भारी विचार आते हैं।
मित्रों होकर हल्का, मचायें उद्यम का तहलका ।।
दिमाग़ का कचरा खाली कर, उद्यम से विकास शुरू कर ।।
जागृति एक गतिमान रथ, लेता जो उद्यमिता-व्रत।
ज़ोर लगा के हईशा, उद्यम बिठा के बढ़ता जा ।
पाटने को विकास की खाई, जागृति की रेल है आई ।
खेल-खेल में चलेगी रेल, नव-उद्यमियों का होगा मेल ।
कब तक करोगे नौकरी की तलाश ?
क्यों नहीं जगाते उद्यम की प्यास ।।
तो आपने अपने डिब्बे के बाहर लगी इन पंक्तियों की ओर ध्यान दिया या नहीं ? और आपके डिब्बे में इनमें से ही कोई पंक्ति थी या फिर इससे भी अलग ? सोच क्या रहे हैं ? यही कि आपके डिब्बे में तो कुछ और ही लिखा था । अरे! तो हमसे भी बांटिये। कमेंट कीजिये, शेयर कीजिये और बताईये कि आपके शौचालय के आस-पास कौन सी सोच थी ! हमें इन्तज़ार रहेगा ।