A 24-YEAR-OLD who wants to end hunger in India, a girl who is busy feeding people with ‘ghar ka khana’, a rickshaw puller who turned his life around with an innovation, a techie who is a TED (technology, entertainment, design) speaker and into the very complicated art of scale paper modelling, and a visionary who is the co-founder of Jugnoo — together, they shared their journeys, from failures to success at the first-ever Josh Meets community talk organised in the city on Saturday by Delhi-based Josh Talks.
The two-hour-long event saw inspiring speakers and their stories impress young minds at the Shosha Bar in Sector 26. Bringing them all together on one platform were two 22-year-olds from Gurgaon, Supriya Paul and Shobhit Banga, the brains behind Josh Talks. A community talking and meeting point born purely out of the need for change from the monotonous status quo, Josh Talks kickstarted in 2014.
“Stories bind us, enthrall us, and offer an insight into another person’s mind. Stories are powerful and we are harnessing it to motivate and change the course of many other stories, disrupt, move, motivate and inspire people, provoke conversations and trigger that passion in them to take chances, do something productive with their lives,” said Paul and Banga.
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Delivered in the form of short talks and videos, the stories cover entrepreneurship, activism, sports, arts and more. What makes it different from TED and TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) and other such talks is that Josh Talks doesn’t focus only on start-ups or entrepreneurs. Nor does it pay its speakers. The venues are also sponsored while a nominal fee is charged from those attending to maintain the seriousness of the meet.
Banga agrees bringing speakers on board is a challenge. “As newcomers with no backing, we were not taken seriously,” said Paul. It was their emotional arguments, dogged persistence and endless visits to venues and potential speakers that paid off, and today they’ve covered more than 50 stories and more than seven cities.
The vision now is to move to tier-two and -three cities where youth is not as exposed to opportunities out there.
In Chandigarh, Josh Talks saw Gagandeep Kaur of Ghar Ka Khana, Ankit Kwatra who runs Feeding Hunger, Chinmay Aggarwal of Jugnoo, designer Sohni Makkar, artist and techie Atamjeet Singh Bawa, organic farmer and innovator Dharamveer Kamboj, and poet group Kavitactics take centre stage and share their ground-breaking stories.
In fact, Paul and Banga too gave up the conventional set-ups to reach out through this unique platform. A BCom (Hons) pursuing Chartered Accountancy, Paul said she had no idea what she was doing with her life. On the other hand, a cyclist who was part of the ‘Specialised’ Indi cycling team, Banga realised there was no future for cycling in India and moved up north from Bangalore to Delhi to join the Lancaster College.
“I then got a chance to go to Harvard’s summer school and there I came in contact with brilliant individuals doing amazing things. It hit me that we need to do something productive with our lives too and not follow herd mentality. That’s how Josh Talks came about,” said Banga.
Initial funding came through the sale of his very expensive Roubait bike, and now they have another angel investor on board. “It will take time to turn it into a revenue model. Videos going viral is one way,” said Banga.