This 17-year-old has developed an app to spread awareness on India’s rich culture and heritage
At 17, Avantika Khanna is an app developer and founder of India Story.
The teenager is on a quest to encourage her generation and the ones after, to rediscover India’s past, one story at a time.
She vividly remembers standing in the Fort of Edinburgh with her father and being awe-struck by the beauty of the well-preserved monument.
But when it came to India, her home country, she found that many historical monuments were not preserved the way they should be, and suffered from neglect by authorities.
She wanted to promote the same sense of wonder and preservation for Indian monuments.
And thus, she created India Story, an app that chronicles the story of India through its monuments. A student run app, it has detailed and curated audio guides that let one experience the magic of monuments.
Building the app
A student of Humanities of Shri Ram School, Aravalli Campus, Gurugram Avantika has always been passionate about learning the different facets of Indian culture and heritage.
She believes, “The loss of both intangible and tangible culture is a loss for human history and global diversity.”
This was the driving principle behind creation of the India Story app.
Her parents, both marketing experts, would play games with her that involved brainstorming solutions for everyday problems. This practice helped her to look at the problem of neglect with Indian historical monuments and create the app.
Avantika is also interested in technology and its power to solve micro and macro issues. She explored tools such as GPS and audio-navigation to create a prototype for the app, and created a user interface and the minimum viable product.
She has brought together a team of 30 history lovers and students who work as writers, marketing experts, photographers and programmers and help her to expand the app. India Story has also partnered with organisers of cultural walks and certified tour guides who can be contacted through its website. Currently, she is involved in helping teams from cities create content.
However, the road to creating the app wasn’t easy. Information about monuments was not easily accessible and she had to browse archives and research papers to get quality information.
Being a young entrepreneur was also a challenge; there were naysayers, investors did not take her seriously, she lacked a mentor and strategic guidance. However, she overcame all these hurdles and succeeded in creating the app.
Avantika has received seed funding for the app from the Indian Angel Network. She took part in an incubation program called Young Entrepreneurs Academy where she pitched her prototype to receive funding.
Avantika recently presented the app to the Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism and received guidance to develop the app. She is working on incorporating religious tourism incorporated into the app. The app was launched on both IoS and Android platforms in 2019 and since then, has received rave reviews.
Avantika hopes to expand the app to include more cities and states, and thereby help the world experience India’s rich and diverse history.
She envisions it as a one-stop shop for heritage content, expand the platform for heritage walks, available in international and regional languages, and easily navigable by the differently abled.
“The more we respect - even celebrate - diversity, the more unified we become as a team. More importantly, I learned the importance of self-reflection in leadership; it took introspection to identify my shortcomings and willpower to overcome them,” she says.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)