Divakar Shukla, 23 comes from a small village called Gonda in Uttar Pradesh. He spent the first 15 years of his life growing up in villages and small towns of India, building close bonds with people around him and lasting relationships with neighbours in particular. The inclination to help people and do something for society was subconsciously always present in him for, in school he and his gang of friends began an organization called “Samarpan” (Hindi for Surrender) that would provide study material and stationery to underprivileged students for the whole year. That entrepreneurship came to him early on, is clear from the fact that this whole operation was crowd funded!
While Divakar went on to study Electrical Engineering at New Delhi, his experiences in the big city were in stark contrast to those that he had had while growing up.
“My experience in cities, (especially Tier 1 & Tier 2) was that I found lack of interaction at its peak, which causes inefficiency and a lot of major problems for the neighbourhood and society. The younger generation gets a very limited chance and atmosphere to be involved in group activities, this impacts their personality development and creates a lack of community feeling,” he says.
Gaps in Governance
The other factor that disturbed Divakar and led him to entrepreneurship was the observation that the Indian citizen has little or no access to the Indian political class. He wanted to increase communication and transparency between the two as well as help connect neighbours from the same locality who in their busy lives forgot to interact with one another. All of these thoughts led him to create The Padosi!
The Padosi (Hindi for The Neighbour) is an android based application (he’s working on web and iOS versions as well) that acts as a civic body between the government and the public and as a location based social network for neighbours. Divakar aims to make societies happier and more interactive and governance more effective and efficient with this offering. Currently operational in Delhi, Mumbai and Lucknow, The Padosi’s 4-point agenda is:
- Connect & interact with your neighbours
- Connect & interact with your government officers
- Raise problems of the area/society as campaigns
- Offer location based deals and coupons of online as well as physical stores
Divakar says, “ThePadosi provides a medium to raise in-society campaigns. There are three options to engage on a campaign namely support, oppose and discuss. One can engage depending upon the value of the campaign. If a campaign gets the support of more than 10% people (variable as per the engagement on the app) of the locality, ThePadosi automatically conveys that problem to the concerned authorities (either political or government officers or both) and does a regular follow-up to ensure that a solution is found.”
A personally funded enterprise at the moment, The Padosi has Divakar as the sole founder who leads a 10 member team, though he isn’t averse to having a co-founder if he/she has the same passion towards the product. 80 days after the launch of The Padosi’s beta version on android, he has his revenue model clear and is already in talks with investors for raising early/seed stage funding. Revenue streams include advertisement, B2B associations and a public insight charge for politicians.
The Padosi’s Impact
Divakar says, “We don’t have any government bodies directly on-board for now, but we’re in touch with UP and Delhi government to provide support to the issues raised as campaigns by the users. If I talk about politicians, I’m very happy to say that more than 700 politicians are already on board to support the campaigns. In first 80 days of beta launch, without any advertisement, we have got 500+ users who successfully raised more than 100 campaigns. In this period we’ve got our first paying customer and that too a Cabinet minister. If I summarise the performance in bullet points
1. 80 days of beta launch
2. 500+ users
3. 2200+ Service Providers on board
4. 700+ Politicians on board
5. 100+ feeds and campaigns have been updated/raised by the users
6. 1 paying customer”
Going forward, Divakar plans to launch The Padosi in native languages and strongly believes in its potential of becoming a profitable self-sustaining civic body in the long term.