Just as they say “Necessity is the mother of invention”, “Need is the most powerful driver for Entrepreneurship”. And when you have an eye for unmet needs, your career as a Serial Entrepreneur begins to take shape from school.
Hitarth Sheth, Youth Venturer, started his first venture in Class 9 by developing an app for his class. His entrepreneurial journey has led to the launch of several ventures in education and healthcare. Read his inspiring story …
Hitarth, tell us about your background
I currently study in Class 12 at Smt VD Desai School, Surat. I am currently preparing for the engineering entrance exam, JEE. Before starting my venture, when i was in my 6th class, I was more interested in animations, video editing, as well as playing Subway Surfers :p. When I was in Class 7, my friends and I often used to forget our school homework, and most of us were too lazy to note down the homework in the school diary as well! At that time, many of my friend’s parents didn’t allow them to use WhatsApp and the school didn’t have its own app. That is when I decided to develop an app, just for my class so we could all chat easily.
What were the steps you took to start your journey in Entrepreneurship?
But then, the question arose — how do I make one? My dad took me to a few local coaching institutes, but most of them politely suggested that I should learn Microsoft PowerPoint and more age-appropriate software and not something as complex as Java. Later, I looked up for information on the internet, and to my surprise, I found videos with every single step explained in detail on how to develop an app. I learnt to develop apps, on my own! I developed an app called RemindMe, just for my class and started to learn more languages and software with the help of YouTube.
Why chose to work on Social Initiative?
My grandfather was diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes is a disease which can cause more harm if it is not detected early on. Keeping that in mind, I developed an app to diagnose pre-diabetic symptoms using a simple quiz-type questionnaire, which was widely downloaded. I pitched this app at Ashoka in my 9th class, and got more ideas about social entrepreneurship. As I used to attend Ashoka’s workshops in Bangalore, which usually lasted 3-4 days, I wasn’t able to attend my regular classes at school. I thought that if I was able to learn how to programme online then i would also be able to find Class 9 videos regarding subjects and classes I missed? But to my utmost shock, I wasn’t able to find a decent video for my syllabus in my native language, Gujarati. I decided to solve the major issue of a language barrier that is faced by millions and millions of students in India who study in schools with a State Board curriculum. That is how the idea of “Gujju Student” was born. Initially, I started the app “Gujju Student” with textbooks and some notes. Now, it has been updated with videos, customised tests and many other features. It has completed 2 years recently and has over 100,000 downloads!
How did you feel when you just started off working on your initiative? Did you face any resistance from society/ parents/ friends/ family/ teachers ?
Since I started in Class 7, my parents, teachers, friends and school have been constantly supporting me and my initiatives. Some of my teachers and friends have also joined my initiatives as contributors to help them scale and create a larger impact.
Tell us about some of the challenges you faced.
Being a fulltime student while working as an entrepreneur can be tedious and stressful. But if you love what you do, even the late nights are worth it! Currently, I am preparing for my undergrad engineering entrance exams. I face issues in balancing both the options with equal priority. I don’t have a team as of now, hence managing my ventures gets tough sometimes. When you are running a venture that needs your involvement every day, then it’s going to be difficult to find that balance, but what I believe is — if you want to change things and work on real social problems that help solve real-life issues — then, you have to be more than willing to do whatever it takes. Please do. The world needs more changemakers – so, step up!
What’s a typical day like? What skills do you need for your work? Awards?
I have been asked this question from many students that I have interacted with – “I want to do something but I don’t know where to start & what to do!” The first step is always to look for the problem. What problems people around you are facing? What is the problem you encounter and feel like this needs to be solved? It is something that will take time. In my case, it was simply that I & my friends forgot the daily homework. Next? Think about how you can solve it. Has someone already solved it? How can you add more value to it? In my case, the available solution was a school diary, but as I mentioned before, we were either too lazy or would forget to write it down. I realised that when we open our phone back at home, something should come up as a notification to remind us about the pending homework. That is when the idea of RemindMe, my first app came. Then, you start building on it gradually. Coming to skills – empathy – the ability to identify and solve people’s problems, as well as bringing people together, that is teamwork.
My typical day ranges from classes in the morning till noon, to studies in evening and working on my initiatives mostly at night. I do coding, design and other related work during that time.
I have been selected as Ashoka Youth Venturer, and have received a Responsibly Digital Award for my work in cyber safety awareness. My venture “Gujju Student” was also awarded with the Best Startup award in the Education category at Global Entrepreneurship Week.
I realised that, beyond Gujarat, there are millions of students across the country as diverse as India, who study in their native language. They lack access to quality learning content. Buddhimaan is a centralised platform to provide learning content in 8 Indian languages for every student across the nation. Apart from this, we at Buddhimaan are working towards designing affordable VR headsets that can be used by schools across India. I have complete faith that every student across the country will be able to learn and understand their concepts, in a language they’re comfortable with, at their home using a phone.