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Jayati Godhawat

JWB Blogger

Engineer Sandeep & Anil Tell JWB How Chennai Floods Prompted Them To Start Donatekart

  • JWB Post
  •  January 3, 2017


The 2015 Chennai floods severely impacted millions of lives in Southern Part of India and it was during this time that our country stood united to help the disaster-stricken people.

Sandeep Sharma and Anil Reddy were amongst the many people who volunteered during the Chennai floods. It was during their volunteering work under the NGO Goonj, Anil observed that the most needs of the flood-struck weren’t met due to lack of communication and awareness about what they need.

Anil Reddy & Sandeep Sharma

In a Skype interview with JWB, Anil and Sandeep shared how this realization led them to start a different kind of crowdfunding platform, .

“Most of the affected people weren’t getting what they actually needed. Also, I realized that most people who reached out to help were interested in making donation in kind rather than in cash,” confided Anil.

It was during the winter vacations of the 21-year-old Engineers, they conceptualized Donatekart.

“We had come up with another Digital Media startup before Donatekart. But, we were always interested in doing something which would generate revenue and also contribute to the society in a certain way,” told Sandeep.

Donatekart is a fundraising platform where NGOs put up their requirements like stationery, clothes, electronics, etc., through raising a campaign. Based on the needs, there are sellers who are enlisted on the website through which a donor can purchase and make payments for the same. However, instead of delivering the purchases to the donor, the proceeds are advanced to the assigned NGO at the end of the campaign.

I had been thinking it all along that most of the Engineering students go for high-value jobs after attaining the degree. So, “Why did you choose the riskier path of starting up a social enterprise?” I finally asked them.

“We were privileged that in NIT’s seventh semester they introduced the subject of Entrepreneurship to us. We were taught by renowned Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs through Skype. Also, many popular Indian Entrepreneurs took guest lectures and shared their success stories with us. I think all of this sprung the idea of venturing into a startup,” explained Anil.

“Of course, we both had our campus placements in our hands. However, we always wanted to contribute to the social sector in some way and with Donatekart we are trying to accomplish it,” added Sandeep.

“How did your families react to your decision?” intrigued, I asked.

Anil was prompt to answer. “It wasn’t difficult to convince my parents. I asked them to give me 2-3 years to prove myself and assured them that there’ll be other job opportunities even if this doesn’t work out,” he said.

Sandeep Sharma & Anil Reddy

A bit hesitant, Sandeep shared, “Before we decided to go further with Donatekart, I was working at Vedanta. However, in 2-3 months, I quit the job and came back to Nagpur to plan and start the company. Initially, my mother was not happy about me leaving a well-paying & secured job for a startup which can be risky and full of uncertainties. But, my brother was very supportive and convinced my mother.”

“Do you relate to the pressure of becoming an Engineer in India? How can the scenario change?” I inquired.

“Of course. We relate to it. I come from Andhra Pradesh and everyone around me was either an Engineer or was pursuing B-tech to become one. Everyone assumes that you will also follow the same footsteps. There’s not much choice for us. Most of us decide after a year or two in the college about our future and what we wish to do in life,” confessed Anil.

“The parents feel that if we become an engineer our life is set and that we’ll get a good package & will have job security. Gradually, we are breaking through this mindset. However, it’ll take some time to completely change the perceptions. Consider us as the first generation of Engineers who are venturing into businesses and startups leaving behind lucrative job offers, and by the next gen, I am hopeful that the scenario will change,” continued Sandeep.

*fingers crossed*

Back to Donatekart, Sandeep and Anil also shared that they have raised more than Rs. 10 lakh so far and plan to expand their operations pan-India in 2017.

“It’s been two months since the inception, and over 8 NGOs have associated with us, and we have run many successful campaigns with them. We’ve are operating in four cities namely Hyderabad, Pune, Bangalore, and Delhi and we want to grow city by city. We are also looking for potential investors and hope to reach out to as many NGOs as we can in the coming months,” told Anil.

Anil & Sandeep are the real pathbreakers who are bringing a social change in more than one way through their determined efforts & dedication.

P.S. If you wish to know more about Doantekart, or if you want to make a donation, you can visit their website, here.

Photo Courtesy: Anil Reddy

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