Pick a Fight – How we do it, and what all have we done so far?

It has been 4-5 months now since the seeds were sown for  Pick a Fight, and I think its time to summarize how we work, what have we done so far, and what’s next in the coming months? The last 4-5 months have been really wonderful. We have met and connected with so many amazing people, some fighting for a cause and some willing to contribute to different fights in the society. The Anna Hazare led anti-corruption movement just showed that ‘we care‘ about our country and will come out to fight if the right options are available.

How we work?

We have found out that people always want to help others, as, either aware or unaware, that gives human beings the most satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment. But most people don’t know where to go and whom to approach to volunteer their services or resources. After this, another important factor is lack of trust that whether their resources are being used for the right purposes or not. This is not strange considering the amount of corruption in India, even in the NGO sector.

So when we take care of finding opportunities where different people can contribute, and making sure their help is utilized as they intended it to be, people are more than willing to help. We have people from Kashmir to Karnataka, from New York to Hyderabad who are volunteering their time and using their skills for our requirements.

We have formed different teams in cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi and for different work categories such as design, communication, technical work, etc. People come up with new ideas, meet and discuss them and partner with different NGOs and try to help them in whatever way they need help. In all, there are around 40-50 people who have come forward with their willingness to contribute.

A week long transplant coordinators training program by Gift Your Organ

A week long transplant coordinators training program by Gift Your Organ

What have we done so far?

Gift Your Organ is a NGO promoting Organ Donation. They recently held a 5 day training program for transplant co-ordinators of different hospitals in Bangalore where 60 people from all over the country participated. We helped them in designing the brochures for this event. Apart from that, they want to hold awareness sessions in schools, colleges and companies to spread awareness about Organ Donation. We are reaching out to our network to help arrange this for them.

Beyond Carlton is a NGO working in the area of fire safety. They work with the fire department to ensure proper awareness among people about fire safety. They approached us for help regarding promotion using social media and for their website. We have connected them to a social media strategist who is devising a strategy for them right now. Also, a web design company has volunteered to design their website totally free of cost. We are glad we are able to contribute to their cause.

Apart from the above two, we have also helped a few orphanages find some teachers to teach the students and have asked people to go spend some time in old age homes. We have also initiated Waste Management activities in 3-4 apartments in Bangalore since we started, as an extension of the No-Waste initiative I started last year.

Beyond Carlton organized a free medical camp for firemen and their families at Manipal Hospital

Beyond Carlton organized a free medical camp for firemen and their families at Manipal Hospital

What’s Next?

We already have a functional team in Bangalore and are building teams in Mumbai and Delhi as we speak. So if you want to join our team in any of these cities, or take up forming a new team in your city, do contact me at sumit@pickafight.in or call me at 9916532966. I will get you started and make sure your help is channeled in a proper way to make a difference.

If you don’t want to join actively at this time, you can always join us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to keep updated with whatever we are doing. Lets say Gift Your Organ wants to have a awareness event, and you can connect us with the right people in your company. This way, you can contribute to a cause without having to be an active part of it. So do join us on these platforms and stay updated.

So let us all do our bit. And as Mother Teresa said, “It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”

7 Lessons from SaleRaja and other start-ups I have been associated with

When I joined my first job, work was on full swing to launch 99acres.com . I was part of the team which did all the technical work and the site was launched one month after I joined. Thereafter, I launched Sukip.com in Jan 2007 and Saleraja.com in Aug 2007. After moving to Bangalore, I worked with Jivox.com for 18 months. Recently I started PickaFight.in, this time as a non-profit initiative. In all these endeavors over the last six years, I got a good exposure to starting up and scaling up websites, both from a technical, product and business point of view.

There have been many lessons along the way, most of them learned the hard way. Here are seven important points I would like to share with one and all who might be interested in starting a web based business. UpdateHere are eight more lessons which I wrote as a follow up article 🙂

1. Passion in what you are doing

Always do what you are passionate about. If you are starting a new website based business, it will keep you awake at nights and make you work on weekends. So it is very important that it is something you are really excited about.

2. Prioritize

In my first job, my boss gave me a valuable lesson, “In a startup, you will always have thousand things to do but not the resources to do all of them. The key is to prioritize among them and then keep your focus on doing the selected tasks to the best”. I have never forgotten this. You will always have more than your plate can hold. So prioritize, prioritize and prioritize.

Working in a startup can be totally fun and 'not like' work

Working in a startup can be totally fun and 'not like' work

3. Release regularly

We launched sukip.com after 6 months of development, and then SaleRaja.com was launched after just 11 days of coding. Release early, release often is the idea. Rather than planning and building a Taj Mahal after months or years of work, start with a basic model and then make changes based on market feedback. Because the customer is the best judge of your product. Period.

4. Understand technology driving your product

As a founder, you might not do all the coding for your product, but it is very important to understand the technology behind it. By doing so, you will be better prepared to perform your job when you step in the shoes of your sales guy or the product manager. In short, it will allow you to make better business decisions.

5. Work like a family

Starting a company is like raising a baby, and hence it is very important the atmosphere is very cordial and like a family. People need to trust each other, care for each other and treat the work as their baby. This family like work culture could be the difference between success and failure later on.

6. Hire people smarter than you or who fill your gaps

You might be smart, talented and hard working, but nobody can know or do everything. Hence it becomes very important to hire people smarter or more talented than you are, or who are talented in the areas where you have a skill gap. Many times people don’t do this for personal and ego reasons, but this is a valuable lesson which I have learned the hard way.

7. Work with people who share your value system

Although your work might not require you to deal with your moral and ethical values very often, it is better to work with people who share your value system. In times of crises, or in times of extreme excitement and growth, these value systems can sometimes prevent us from making big mistakes. At the same time, a difference in the value system can cause rift between the team as both parties might consider their beliefs as right and blame the other party for not understanding.

What was the need for Pick a Fight?

As many of you know, I am working on my latest initiative, which we have named “Pick a Fight“. The aim is to become a one stop destination to connect anyone who is fighting for a cause and looking for help with anyone who is willing to contribute in terms of money, time or resources. But why? Why have we started this? What was the need for such an initiative? In this article I will dwell on this question in detail.

George Bernard Shaw once said –

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity”

Today, as we live in a 21st century India which is economically progressing at a brisk pace, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Do we care about our fellow countrymen who have been deprived of this growth?”, “Does it hurt us when we see news of crime against women and elderly?”, “Do we care about our society in the same way as we care about our family?” You might answer yes or no to these questions, but nobody can deny the fact that real (inclusive) and sustainable growth cannot happen if there is no social and economic equality and a large number of our people are still hungry and unemployed. A society cannot be called prosperous unless it takes good care of its weak and underprivileged populace.

Creating a Culture of Giving

I have always been proud of how much we Indians care for our family members, how much we sacrifice and give for the happiness of our family. But outside of family, our giving is very limited. Being very religious people, most of our giving outside our family is confined to religion. But unfortunately, all that has not made its way to the needy and for development purposes. We give money and gold in huge amounts to Gods and temples, but surprisingly, we don’t give for the values and teachings that these Gods stand for. Pick a Fight aims to create giving as a culture to promote values and ideals preached in all major religions.

See Giving as an Investment in Social Change

We need to see giving as an investment in social change rather than just an outgo of time and money. Giving for social change is like an investment which will come back to benefit us and our future generations. It is not for someone else’s benefit, it is for everybody’s, including ours, benefit. With Pick A Fight, we aim to provide options for people willing to give so that they are aware of the difference and social impact they are making.

Giving for Social Change

Giving for Social Change

Giving for Development Assistance rather than Charity

Giving can take two forms. One option is giving for charity, like feeding a hungry person or giving medicines to those who can’t afford them. Another form of giving is to give for a development process, like for an employment program or for education, which enables the receiver to empower him/herself and improve his/her living standards so that he/she doesn’t need the donor from the next time. A perfect proverb to highlight this point is – “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. We need to move our giving to the second form which builds long term sustainable growth for the recipient.

No Common Platform

India has over 3 million NGOs working on a myriad of issues. But there is no extensive repository or listing directory available for donors to search based on their state, area of interest, etc. (There are few like NGOPost, GiveIndia, but they are limited in their operations and reach) We intend to fill that gap with Pick a Fight as we grow. Apart from that, a common platform can also be used for communication between different stakeholders. NGOs can share their best practices from different causes they are working on, and people can share stories of hope and courage to encourage and inspire others. Sharing resources and knowledge on a common platform will be instrumental in shaping the future of India.

We are the Privileged, and have the Responsibility

We are the privileged section of the population to grow up in the last 20 years when India has seen economic progress. We are also the ones who have been directly benefited by this growth and the reforms after 1991 have made a considerable impact in our lifestyles. But there is still a large part of our population who have missed it. It is our responsibility to take the decisive steps required to make them a part of this growth so that they also contribute to the economy for the next phase of growth.

So this was the reasoning behind starting Pick a Fight. After all, we export our software all over the word and are known for it. It is time we use our software and technical skills to help our own people and country. And Pick a Fight is still in its infancy, we would need a lot of support from all parts of the country to make it a success. We would also need a lot more initiatives by privileged people like me and you to ignite the next wave of growth and send a ripple of hope across the nation.

Pick a Fight – A poem

It is time

It is time

Life is so great,
Why should you wait?
You are a hero,
Go show some bravo!
The light will shine bright,
If we decide to pick a fight!!

Few of us are not so lucky,
Want to make them happy?
Then this is your chance,
Their dreams we can enhance!
The possibilities are infinite,
Let us all pick a fight!!

This is your life’s journey,
Are you going to live it fully?
Find out what interests you,
We have a lot on our menu!!
Let your hopes rise like a kite,
Big or small, but pick a fight!!

You can make a difference,
Light the world with brilliance!
Step outside of your shadow,
But don’t wait for tomorrow!
A new fire let us today ignite,
This is our chance to pick a fight!!

It’s time to welcome the new,
If not me and you, then who?
Let us create a new future,
Which is sweet and not bitter!
Together we must all unite,
Now is the time to pick a fight!!

P.S. – Visit http://www.pickafight.in for more details..