‘My first startup bombed and I decided to introspect to find what I really wanted to do’ – Deepak Singh Bonal, founder, HelpiezSnigdha Sinha
Study to earn the big bucks
“When I was a child and then a teenager, my only understanding and aim was to study well, get to a good college, get a well-paying job, and earn a lot of money,” says Deepak Singh Bonal, fondly called ‘Dazi’, who did his schooling from Sainik School, Ghorakhal, and is a chemical engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. During his college days, he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. His first startup (Hamarabroker) bombed and Deepak decided to take a good look at where his life was heading. “In college, I felt like it’s a rat race and it wasn’t going to give me any satisfaction.”
Stopping and revaluating choices
His friend, Gaurav Jain, and he started looking for internships with NGOs. Deepak adds,
We found that there was no dedicated platform for social service-related activities where we can find volunteering opportunities. We talked to lot of people to know what they think about their responsibility towards society and to our greatest surprise more than 85% people were always thinking of getting involved in social service-related tasks but they never found an appropriate platform for doing so.
A realisation that became an opportunity
Gaurav and Deepak realised that they had an opportunity to build something that would help people, organisations, and the society; it would also satiate their desire to do something meaningful. The duo brainstormed and came up with an answer – providing the people interested in volunteering an opportunity to look for what interests them and facilitating social networking. Helpiez is an NGO database cum opportunity portal for help providers (volunteers) and seekers (organisations and initiatives).
We asked Deepak about the story behind the name. He says, “There is a beautiful quotation – The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others. Helpie is a person who helps someone and since we were preparing a platform for persons like these, we came up with the name Helpiez, which according to us is a community of people who want to help in any capacity they can.”
The core team members are Sachin Garg, Sumit Garbyal, Mayank Tewari, Dharmendra Pratap Singh, Kapil Sharma, and Ankit Singh. There are student interns as well.
What’s in it for individuals and organisations
Helpiez caters to two user groups – individual user and organisation user.
Individual users can create their profiles, search for information and contact details of organisations, explore volunteering, internship, and event participation opportunities, and also find like-minded people. Users can also write about their work and experiences and share it with their community. The most engaging part of the platform is that users can create social campaigns and encourage participation from their Helpiez community.
Organisations, on the other hand, can showcase their work, find people to work for them in various capacities, manage volunteers through a volunteer management system, and also keep their subscriber base updated with posts and photos of their work.
So far, Helpiez has helped over 650 students to find work with over 30 NGOs. “We have received very good feedback from all the users who have visited our website. More and more people are getting connected with us, which means that it has created a very good impact on society. We are getting invitations from many NGOs and social cause organisation to work along with them and provide them with volunteers who can actually convert their efforts into success and we believe that all this will not stop here,” says Deepak.
At present, they are working on their new product which will be launched in December in the form of a mobile app to enhance user experience.
Monies and challenges
Deepak tells us that currently they’re not looking at the profit angle. He does understand that it is not something he can put away for long since sustainability is the big question. He says, “We want to make it self-sustainable. We campaign with the help of NSS India and students. NSS India provides funding for our campaigns.” In the future we plan to run programmes for the corporates and take charge of their CSR wing. He says, “We will try to take our operational costs out of it.”
The duo unanimously says that their biggest challenge is to find self-motivated individuals who have the right skill-set and are ready to work with them to make Helpiez a roaring success.
A drop in the ocean
Deepak did not take up a campus placement because he wanted to devote all his time to Helpiez. A decision like this can often stir up a storm in families. He says, “I consider myself as very lucky. Friends and family have supported my decision completely.”
Deepak’s dream for Helpiez is to become the first choice of common people when they want to donate their time for a cause. He adds, “I want people to showcase their work and feel great about it.” In 5 years, Deepak says that Helpiez will be the largest social service provider and help seeker network serving the society and would be bring people closer minimising racial, economic, cultural, and regional differences among people. On a parting note, he quotes Mother Teresa, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”