The often used and clichéd altruism ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ probably doesn’t read truer than in the startup system.
I recently met someone who lives by this philosophy – Karl Mehta, the CEO and Founder of EdCast Inc, an edutech company based in Silicon Valley, which aims to make learning a lifelong phenomenon.
Karl was born and raised in a lower middle class family and spent his growing up years seeing poverty all around him. This environment is what forged a desire in him to help uplift the lives of the less privileged right from a young age.
Unassuming in personality, Karl is the quintessential achiever – an award-winning serial entrepreneur, an engineer, investor, an author, and the first White House Innovation Fellow. His recent ventures, however, are what interest me the most – 'Code for India' & ‘SkillUp India’. He demystifies both programs for us.
Code for India, an initiative aligned with the Prime Minister Modi’s vision of Digital India is trying to build a community of techies of Indian origin and get them to volunteer for social causes. Karl is of the opinion that technology can be leveraged to eliminate poverty in India.
At the moment, Code for India has over 5,000 software engineers of Indian origin with roughly about half of them based in Silicon Valley and other half scattered over the rest of the world. Of these, about 1500 are based in India. The initiative also has a Bengaluru chapter, which conducts meet ups.
Code for India provides a platform for everyone to volunteer, donate their time, and talent. “All of us cannot wait for when we retire and when we become multi-millionaires to devote time,” says Karl. This is about philanthropy and giving back to the society from an early age just with time and talent.
His experience of working at the White House as an Innovation Fellow taught him many lessons in inclusion. This led him to write a book called 'Financial Inclusion at the bottom of the Pyramid', which was launched recently.
Talking about his venture EdCast, Karl emphasises on the fact that learning should be a lifelong process. The current educational infrastructure was set up during the industrial economy but we are now in a knowledge economy and we need to look at education and learning from that lens.
Today, people live in a culture of social networking and Edcast’s vision is to tap into that social networking plumbling of people but also give them learning and knowledge to enrich their life, effectively promoting social learning.
Watch the full interview with Karl Mehta to get more insights into his vision.
Camera person: Rukmangada Raja