He has chosen an unconventional career path to serve the humanity… and that’s how Serve Happiness a social venture came to life… An interview with its Co-founder Nitin Taylor a young and promising social entrepreneur from Gujarat…
Tell us something about your background and studies.
As born and brought up in a middle class family of small and beautiful town in Bharuch, Gujarat, I have always been absorbed to do something dynamic for the society and particularly involve like-minded enthusiasts to make a difference.
I have completed my school education from a small town Rajpipla in local schools. I completed my Bachelors in Engineering from DDIT , Nadiad which is Gujarat’s first deemed university. I completed my M.Tech in Information Technology from IIIT, Bangalore in 2009.
Were you always a bright student or had your share of ups and downs?
Being from a middle class rural background, my family members were not well educated. My father was working as a govt. clerk and mother was a housewife. I was an average student but from childhood instead of seeking for motivation outside I always used to motivate myself. Before getting admission in Computer engineering I had never seen computer in my life. I had seen lots of ups and downs in my LIFE but the only thing I have learned is no matter whatever happens just work hard, have faith in yourself and keep moving forward.
While studying at IIIT Bangalore, you were one among the several students selected across the world to be chosen as an international student in Malmo University. How did that happen?
I learned a lot during my study at IIIT Bangalore. It’s really a great institute. During college days I was involved in all extra curricular activities like placement activities, coordinating international conference , technical events at IIIT Bangalore. I was also teaching assistant under Prof. Chandrashekar. In final semester we can either go for placements or research or exchange program in foreign countries. I could easily get training in a good company but I thought to take international exposure so I applied for student exchange program in Malmo University , Sweden. Based on my interview, academic records and experience I got awarded Linneaus Plame scholarship as an international student in Sweden.
After completing your studies you seem to have worked only for an year. Why did you discontinue your job? Weren’t you satisfied with the work you were doing?
After my M.Tech degree I got a decent job in very good American start up company based in Bangalore. It was a nice experience to work there but after seeing life in software industry I found everyone running behind money. My life’s goal was not just to earn good money. According to me, my education and my work should create some value in society. I was not satisfied with my job. While working I always used to question myself that this is what I want to do in my LIFE. I did lots of self introspection and after sometime I thought this is not what I really want to do in my LIFE and I decided to quit the job.
From where did the idea of being a social entrepreneur begin?
This decision, however, was not an easy one for me to leave a good paying job and start something which is not to make money but to create positive impact in society. It was burdened by the apprehensions of my family, by financial constraints, marriage decision. Fears projected by other people always disappointed me. But at the same time reading Swami Vivekananda’s and APJ Kalam’s books encouraged me to continue contributing my work to society. People/relatives used to call me insane sometimes as I was not doing any job in an MNC after my M.Tech but was working in a village to set up an NGO to improve poor people’s health and education.
It was Buddha who said, “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” I was just inspired with this quote and started my journey of being a social entrepreneur. So far journey of Serve Happiness is quite interesting and inspiring. I have been visiting and traveling all over India to get connected with good NGOs and people to spread the word of Serve Happiness for which I am getting a very positive response.
Recently I got selected as a facilitator at Jagriti Yatra. Jagriti Yatra is an ambitious train journey of discovery and transformation that takes hundreds of India’s highly motivated youth, especially those who are from small towns and villages of India, on a 15 day, 8000 km national odyssey to meet the role models – social and business entrepreneurs – of the country. The vision of Jagriti is “building India through enterprise” .
My organization Serve Happiness is being invited to be the founding member of World Happiness Consortium under The International Happiness Initiative, an independent, non-governmental organization created in support of the United Nations General Assembly resolution establishing the International Day of Happiness, observed on the 20th of March annually.
I have been invited at United Nations Headquarter , New York where they would officially announce Serve Happiness as their founding partner along with other organizations of the world on 20th March which is celebrated as International Happiness Day.
What gave birth to Serve Happiness? How did you start up with this new venture?
I always find happiness while working towards bringing change in people’s lives with practical solutions. Taking first step towards this, I have started working as a head to setup an NGO with some prominent personality of INDIA to improve health and education of poor people using latest technology in rural part of my district, Bharuch in Gujarat, India. It was a challenging task for me as I was working in a different sector which I have never worked but found happiness after setting up good Foundation which today runs free medical clinic and education center serving thousands of poor people in surrounding areas in Piraman Village, Ankleshwar near Bharuch.
History demonstrates effectively that individuals who took their own path, who listened to their inner self despite the current norms of society, were empowered with the ability to bring an effect with a real change around them.
I am always passionate about discussing creative ideas and to bring those ideas into implementation to improve our society. Moving in the same direction, surprisingly I met Anugrah Agrawal, M.Tech (IIT-BHU),Co-Founder, Serve Happiness at a start up event by NASSCOM Foundation at IIM, Ahmedabad and we discussed on this idea and started working and we got first prize. We decided to carry this idea further and currently we both are working on this full time.
What problems did you face during the initial stages of Serve Happiness
Challenge is inevitable and now I am used to that and frankly speaking now I can’t imagine my life without challenges. Getting fund is the biggest challenge for us as this project is more about creating positive impact in society rather than just making money. Another major challenge is to spread awareness about volunteering and make people understand to contribute their leisure time for good social cause as people are more busy with their life. But still there are people in this world who are passionate to help others. We want to give them a platform to help other needy people.
How do you gather volunteers to work with your website?
Volunteers can register themselves with www.servehappiness.org or they can be in touch with us by our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SocialSrishti . We are also planning to setup an office with a dedicated person who can answer all the queries related to volunteering in their respective cities.
Tell us something about your recent venture Openfuel.
Openfuel is a non-profit initiative that wants to take home beautiful ideas and a start up dream to every young Indian starting from its students. It works to develop programs based on its grass root experiments with youngsters, leveraging technology that empowers distant communities across the country to kick start entrepreneurship activities.
My friend Yash Saxena, is a founder of Openfuel. We are trying to create a strong eco-system to promote entrepreneurship among Indian students.
You can find more information at www.openfuel.org. Facebook page: www.facebook.com/openfuel.org
Do you think our society discourages youngsters to take up a career geared towards a social cause?
Yes. According to me, our society should encourage youngsters to take path on social entrepreneurship. I did not get any kind of support when I jumped into social work. People in our society measure you only by the money you earn. To become a social entrepreneur one must have the passion to do something for the society.
It would be great if you could give a piece of advice to those who want to serve the society in whichever way they can.
History demonstrates effectively that individuals who took their own path, who listened to their inner self despite the current norms of society, were empowered with the ability to bring an effect with a real change around them. These were the people who did not take a ’NO’ for an answer, who were compelled to find new answers to old questions. We all might not be able to go down into history and become prolific game-changers, but we all can certainly learn the value of listening to our inner voices.
I have just started this project with the thought of helping society in a global way. We have overheard this conversation many a times, “I want to do something for the society but don’t know how we can contribute”. We tried to give an answer to such people by creating this platform and just helping them with their search for happiness.
Today everyone is running behind a job after completing their studies, those who have already got a job are running behind promotion and more offers. But in this race we are forgetting that our role in this world is not restricted to only ourselves but we also have to contribute to our society, culture and our country. Education should not be just to make money but your knowledge/work should create a positive impact On the society.
I used to deliver inspirational talks in colleges and schools to make them aware of the goal of education and to encourage them to do work/job which can bring a positive difference and SERVE HAPPINESS in this WORLD 🙂