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E2 - Sourabh Kumar - Ripples of Change

by Srikanth
August 28th 2020

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A young changemaker who is on a mission to save lives and makes roads... More

So one of our news article was seen by a bank manager from Amritsar and he immediately said I never knew that part of fixing is such an easy to us. Can you please arrange the cold asphalt bags that you have for me and I'll ensure that we fix it in our vicinity. We have a lot of people. So hello everyone. My name is stricken and the host of the show inspired someone today. This podcast links in personalities from a cross section of our society who would share the perspectives, learnings, hags and experiences that can inspire all the first in our journey's come join me on this line. Yeah, mm. Today's guest on the show is a change maker and the social impact sector is associated with a cause that many of us can relate to potholes. Yeah, he's called 16 to answer his calling that is to save lives.

My guest today is a co founder and Ceo of the social enterprise called pothole Roger quoted as 100 most influential global youth marketing professional and on the machine to make India Portal three, please welcome, come on. A lot of us look at a situation and asked why and change graters look at it and say what can I do to fix it. We have once a change maker in homage to walk to his journey of the english status cope. So, uh welcome to inspire someone today podcast. Thank you so much you can is that for me to actually be honest. So thank you sort of myself and my listeners on which to our seats to return to your story, Let's jump writing. So quite quite interesting. I would say I actually seem I don't need to be quite uh feeling and interesting. So just to give you a brief background how I started, I graduated in 2014 as a software developer from Technical Institute of Technology from Court.

And uh I started working for XP as a software developer. Now. Uh, you know, life is moving on quite amazing. I would say, you know, I. D. World and a lot of opportunities. But somewhere I think there was a call that I that kept coming from inside that this this industry is probably not the right industry for me. That's where I started looking into uh if I wanted to work on an NBA. But again, I had this question on my mind that why exactly do I want to go for an NBA? Why is that needed? That's why I kept hitting. Because I think in their life I have studied, I will know only take my reference. I know it's it's a very generalized statement for all of us across our country as well. But I would say I have studied my entire life wherein I had no idea whether I really wanted to go for an engineering. I don't know, but I eventually did because everybody was doing it. Why should I shouldn't I do that? But this is where I thought that, you know, I actually need an answer to the why, why do I want to go for an NBA.

So that that was happening. But during the family universe, I think the universe had a different story for me and that is why I remember one new particle that took me apart and that said uh so there was an incident that got covered and I read that a couple was returning back from you know after having been a defense place and the husband trying to avoid a porthole and that's where he's headed off. The wife had got hit on the barricade one of the nuclear that is there on the side of the rules and she died on what? But interestingly the new article said the husband was booked for breast writing and I was like okay somebody has lost his family number newly married couple and and if I hadn't been lost against us then so that really hit me hard and I was like is this this is the real world that I'm living in what was the fault of that guy. And you're mentioning that it happened because he was trying to avoid the possible so you have all these things.

So then I started looking into only those stuff, it's related to fourth hole. I mean I would say I did not start looking for them but from every direction in my life I was reading hearing seeing only about portal accident deaths that really shook me apart. I was like I don't want to be in this state. I actually don't want to be in a state where then I can't do anything, but I can't help somebody. That's when I started my journey, yep, reporting Portholes. I was like, okay, let me just informed authorities that there are Portholes in business area. Even if you know out of hundreds of the report, even if one gets fixed, I think I probably would save a lot of life. Unfortunately, that did not go very well. It takes a lot of time. Then I started doing my research that as an individual, can I do something? I of course one thing was very clear in my mind that I did not want to be that person who this puts, you know, some debris or sand and takes a bottle temporarily. I was actually looking for something revolutionary. So you know, when I started doing all, they started bugging all my friends from, from engineering.

Of course I had no background to civil engineering. I had no background to chemical components. But I was looking for a magical product. I was looking for a product that will be in liquid state. Did you pour it? And within no time we get hard like okay, if I just go out and do that, nobody will even come to know this, that populistic. Let somebody take a credit. I don't care about that. I've unfortunately I couldn't find that. But what interestingly happened. What I figured out something else which is called cold as father cool assault is a very interesting thing. Now if I, you know ask you do you really need a cooking expertise to cook antagonisms? Of course, I think your answer would be no right. It just cut open the bag packet, boil the water, keep it. Of course it doesn't get ready in two minutes. It takes more than two minutes. But yes, the mold Maggie is done and you know, if you make a wonderful Maggie which can take care of your hunger, this was similarly the same thing. Exactly same. It comes in already makes you know, ready bad, you just have to cut open the backboard and that the porthole that you have Level it and allow the traffic to pass in just 10 minutes, you can support him.

And I was like, Wow, this is what I actually was looking for. I don't need an expertise but I know that I can fix the portal and that will be a permanent solution. As I said, you know when and I think I I love this quote that when you are working towards one particular thing, the universe guides you towards that particular thing. Okay, so I read an interesting article in the hindu newspaper which covered thing that what hold Asia is fixing potholes on the road. I was like wow, I actually had been resulting about this the last 78 months and there is a guy who's actually doing that, let me just go and retail to him and start volunteering and getting that you know, started with getting bottles. Now look at luck, I call this person. So I say, I mean I actually read about you in the newspaper and I wanted to know about it and if I can help you fix falsehood is that tomorrow morning they're doing from 14 16 in ST john's, can you join five o'clock in the morning? I was like, I was happy like I wanted to do this And so I joined him.

I went and uh you know joined him. I actually started liking because the entire thing what I saw the research. It was exactly the same thing. That's where my journey with portal brothers I think as a volunteer 78 months down the line. I figured out that this is what I want to do in my life without telling my mom and dad, I decided to quit my job because that was going to be very tough call. I mean that's another you know a story that I would uh tell sometime later. But yeah, it was a tough call. I joined without full time for you know popular became a two man army and 2017 remember it was then you know I started and from then it's been a journey. It is full of a lot of proud moment and a lot of and it's a you know a relief that I have every time that I hit the bag that you know because of the 7000 plus potholes that we have fixed approximately more than 10 like people on in a very, you know average, there are safe out there on indian does because of the effect that we have, that has been really amazing and that's a smart urban journey that you know, I've had so far.

Well that's the story of inspiration. I'm literally getting goosebumps here as a kind of here yard and that's the genesis of particle roger. So may 14 40 or month of her journey to find your mojo in the world Conspires and kind of takes you to this particular uh life dream of yours to help save lives and I'm sure the whole journey wouldn't have its own share of hurdles, what are the challenges in setting up of this enterprise as you did mention that We have presented in saving close to about 7000 place uh portholes till date. So what are some of those hurdles as you lived through it even uh you know that very interesting is your family is far from the support side when you start thinking about something which is not a conventional thing. So even I'm telling how I'm, I'm you know, it's a journey where my parents are still not comfortable with the world that I do and of course, I mean I don't blame them for that as well.

But living apart, you know the family side and coming to in the execution side. People have always connected and they said that you know, well this is such a wonderful thing. I would love to be a part of this. So we actually work with portraits, we work with corporate to the CSR initiatives. We engage the employee, we employ a lot of transgenders under to this community blue collar people practically take up this and with export hope there was no very important reason why we want the citizen involvement and engagement is because we want them to be a part of the change until unless we put our hands into something. We don't feel that that belongs to us. I think more than 2000 plus volunteers that have volunteered with us. It's because of them that you know, this has become such a big thing because they feel the pride they feel that you know, I have contributed something for the society that we live in. But at the same time it's definitely a very strong challenge to the system as people, we cannot keep reaching out to us because once we say roads, what's the first thing that comes to our mind?

Isn't it? The government's responsibility. I think we're paying road taxes and in the mangler it is the maximum road tax in the entire country then why should we even, you know contribute donate or why should we do that? I won't be breaking any law. What if somebody comes in stops is what if somebody that's rising as for doing a good job, a lot of equipment. It needs to be answered. So that's it. You know, the challenge and the thrill just to break this myth that we can actually go out and fix the bottle on our own because we're not breaking any law. There are certain law that has been written and that according to which we are not supposed nobody is in fact supposed to cut a road without somebody's permission. We don't do that. We don't do the road cutting, you cannot stop the traffic or any of your private purposes. What what does does that mean? Like let's suppose that you want to have a political rally. Let's suppose you want to, you know, organizing the event in the middle of the road because they'll be upset in the graphic. You need the permission.

You will see a lot of, you know, the marketing codings near the side of the road or in the median because that's a public property and somebody has to pay rent. So the authorities as well. It's also permission. Are they doing none of these things. We don't often the traffic house, Our work starts early morning, 5:30 AM, just one hour. Our work is before even the traffic starts, the bottles are done. We don't do any branding on the road. We don't believe in that at all. Plus we don't cut the road to fix potholes, we fix it as it is because this product that we have is, it's an amazing thing that, you know, it transforms into whatever shape and size it is. So that has always been a challenge and an exciting part as well wearing people think that can we do, it can be or can we not once they come and participate, you know what they say, can I take two bags and keep it in my car? They see wherever I see a bottle, I'll fix it on my wall and that's exactly what what we are intending to do. If you know this, this can be one small little uh tool that you keep it to your quarters, don't tell anybody or you know, if you feel like you tell somebody that you know what, this is what I did and you are saved so many lives, you can't even count.

Well this like looks like a magic bag for everybody in Bangla at least that everybody keeps the bags of the magic solution that you have and take care of the ball courts in our own vicinity. All right, I have something like that. I think you hit home a point where you basically said that you don't necessarily to have permission to kind of take care of something like this. And I did read up on how B B. M. P. Has kind of applauded the efforts that two days have been doing and again, the whole journey hasn't been one office smooth roll for you folks. So what are some of the hardest that you're dealing with and how are you planning to welcome back to fill the hurdle that I said that and again, it's a, it's a mindset that people need to understand that you know, contribution to the better society in better places. Is that your cell citizens as well. Uh, another harder if I would say of course, you know, people, the company that you know, we speak to a lot of things that retails that we do uh, there are peace, you know, somebody's working on environment, somebody's working on health and oil, but at the point of time they do understand right that this is something very important and a lot of times people think that as you mentioned that the BMP commissioner was there in one of our events and they say, you know, really applaud in the world that we were doing a lot of times people think that, you know, this is something that we're working against the government now, that's something which needs to be understood that we are not here to work against the government, NGOS or any social enterprise work actually for the people and they work along with the government and parallel to the government so that they can also contribute towards the nation building activities that needs to be understood.

It's actually, it's more like a collaboration, definitely it and it has to be a collaboration. Now the impact that we're trying to make, its not just Bangles. We wanted to go beyond bangle across the country and unless we have the collaboration, unless we have all the stakeholders in the same type, are we going to achieve it? Of course not. So that's not, you know, it's a collaborative work that we have to do. I think you read a preview of my next question that was coming through, which is basically one of your auditions vision that you have uh Artful roger is to make India part of all three. Okay, so how do you plan to take this up? How do you kind of manage is standing at the scale that we are as a country? See as you rightly said, of course, are we finished vision is to make us then that country, Portal three. And with that, what we mean is any sort of or anything can from any part of the country should be able to fix the pothole. And how are we going to, you know, make that we have a very interesting uh you know, numbers that we use, we actually have so that people can report potholes to us.

That is 814 outwards. Now, what does that mean after 8 1/4 if you open your dial pad and you type pothole 87, 88 And the corresponding numbers it becomes (814) 768 4653. So that's a very easy number to remember now anybody can with WhatsApp and with the internet facilities across the country anybody and everybody now used to using water. Everybody knows how to send a picture. What is the simplest thing that a person citizen can do click a picture of the party and send it across. Now that is map one status when once we have the data but they're portholes are they can connect with let's say somebody is reporting from Amritsar. Uh I like to you know now that you're adopting I'd like to give you an example of how we enable the person from Amritsar to support her on his own. One of our news article was seen by a bank manager from research and he immediately said I never knew that Putin has such an easy start.

Can you please arrange the cool at all the bags that you have for me and I'll ensure that we fix it in our vicinity. We have a lot of possible. I immediately connected we have a lot of now manufacturers and manufacturing across the country that are partners. They immediately called up and said can you you know drop two bags to the gentleman and he fix the puzzle on his own. He never traveled to America and now I have not been from this period but that ballistics that is something that we are looking at. How have you been on that question. Well how do you plan to answer this is how we plan for expansion. So there is room, we will also be you know relieving our you know mobile application as well where people can just click of a button, they can deport a porthole, they can get access to the nearby store wearing, they can get the asphalt that's delivered to them and they can fix it on their own. Super sort of. One thing I can assure you at the end of this shoe you will get a lot of paris particularly people in India to ask him for that gold has felt died so be prepared Also.

I mean we are all get up to you know make our nation bottle three I think continuing with that total one of the challenge with social enterprises scaling and you did dr board usage of technology how you can do ban in here. What was very intriguing for me also was part call Roger is also an S. 0 9000 when certified organization. So how do you see innovation in the social interface set up and how do you kind of see innovation in an industry or in an interacting a problem like sparkle fixing one of the things that I continue to hear from a lot of folks around who volunteered with us. I said that they've always wanted to do something like this or anything with no impact in the society. There's a lot of innovations that, you know, we have a family to take care of. We have loans, we have kids, how will we manage that expensive. And one question that everybody asked me, how do you earn if you're just fixing potholes, what is the revenue stream for you Now?

You know any NGO? For a matter of fact they don't work on this model. That ₹100 donation goes ₹400. In fact, of course, people over there are also working as full time employees and their contribution also needs to be taken care of this awful, there is administrative charges and all that can be taken care of. I mean that's obviously there now apart from that, as you know in the beginning you said Portola is also a social enterprise. Now, what does that mean? We continue to innovate. We interestingly have a very, you know, innovative product which is made out of completely recycled plastic. Now that's a honeycomb kind of max structure. It can be laid at any place and your road is done. You just have to level the surface later. Mac Efi interlocking Mac too late. You fill it with gravel, you fill it with mark, you fill it with tar, you fill it with cement, whatever, you know, your choice and your, your role is done for at least 15-20 years, there'll be no maintenance required. Not until now that is something that makes our information sustainable because a lot of people connect you know from private roadside now what is the private, private room?

Any industrial layout, any residential layout, any any property which is not directly controlled by the government. All these people also reach out and we work with them To make the entire rule facility, we work with them to maintain their entire facility 365 days, we ensure that that is part and three, how do we do that using technologies because of the mobile application, anybody over there can porter porter room like a picture, send it to us, our team goes over their fix. It it needs to be whether it is one poor soul, 100 portal doesn't matter. That's where technology is a very important role And that's how we continue to innovate. Another interesting has 13. There also everything, a lot of industrial waste, plastic waste grenade ways to come up with a very innovative product that is also at the last in the final stages of testing that again, is a kind of building block, you decide where you want to use it and you can become a local entrepreneur.

So with that, you know the way we're looking at it, the entire country is full of, a lot of ways micro entrepreneurship opportunities can be created across across the country, but in people, person living in a local park, let's say in the eastern part of the country from assam from Rogers town, from Tamil Nadu, they can take the subject and the technology, they can set up their own unit and they can start selling in their locality, they become an entrepreneur but that's how you know this entire ecosystem works and that's how social enterprise prize and you know, impact society wonderful not only fixing a social problem, but you're also kind of trying to create jobs to the process, creating livelihoods in the local community assessment. So what drives you to do all of this? Uh if I reflect back on what kind of person I am, I think you know one interesting story that I would like to share with you and then we were fixing a pothole somewhere near Birnam wood and uh of the embassy bus driver top bay, he waved at us and said thank you so much for doing this.

And I got blue balls literally standing over there. I was not expecting that the same thing happened when we were doing it in Delhi. A guy, he went he was on his way to office, he came back and he said I initially thought that somebody knows authority and somebody else is doing but I now realize that you are an NGO and you're doing that, thank you so much. I can't thank you enough that you know you have you have repaired the entire road at the same time. You know a lot of people are connected to last 23 months. We have been doing a lot of new covid relief work as well and we have provided more than 1.8 crore means to more than one black people in mango. I have personally gone and delivered food items to be and these are all basically blue collar segment very and they don't have a full time job. They relied on you know the daily wages or books are made for all of you know different kind of look or their jobs. David Knight, you know sir, you are like a you know bone for us like a bad one, get it up.

I'm already health technically a kind of these kind of words or something that you know we all team members are hearing that if we would have not received for another 23 days we would have committed to say this kind of statement now when we reach out to these people and we transform, I would not be transformed. But I think whatever capacity we can help them to live a better life, I think that's what drives me to kind of do this more and more. And I just said you know when we fix portholes, we save not just one life but thousands of life that go through that part on every single day and you know the amount of life that we can save and one philosophy that I have in my life is and I keep telling this to myself, nobody took birth to diana, literally nobody there are, you know, I am not, I'm not going to talk about anything else because a lot of rules if the issues are there, but definitely not a porthole, that is the last thing that I can see somebody dying because the aisle, that's where I have devoted my entire life, I will say to solve this problem and how much ever I can do in my lifetime, I will continue, excellent, so you're definitely in spending a lot of the folks listening or death uh to the global world that have been doing one thing that is definitely there on uh at least few of their minds is what are the things to consider to evaluate a career in the social sector, What would be your advice for folks thinking on these lines Till now, I see this industry, social entrepreneurship, social sector having a lot because earlier people used to connect only as you know something that you do for somebody is and there is no revenue stream, there is no model of revenue generation, whereas that is completely wrong, when somebody is looking at solving a problem, nobody in this entire world has said that you cannot have a model around a revenue model around it because unless you're surviving, unless you are looking ahead at expanding, you're not going to impact more life and the only concept, the only difference between a social entrepreneur and normal entrepreneurs, Social entrepreneur works more for the impact left for the public and unusual entrepreneur is the other way around.

Okay, of course they do a lot of impact as well. I mean I'm not denying the fact that all but over here social entrepreneurship, the focus is on impact a lot of times we compromise on the profit as well, but at the end of the day we want more, more impact to be done to all the budding social entrepreneurs and people are looking at starting the career and social entrepreneurs is what I would suggest is start looking into broad perspective. What I mean by that is start looking at what are the kind of possible revenue or a sustainable method that left the pool that you're not getting any donation or any grant. How are you going to survey if you can decode this part, you have cracked that you don't need to compromise on anything, you don't need to compromise on your lifestyle. You don't need to compromise on any aspect of your life and you can still impact more lives and you continue to grow now, there are a lot of impact on that are available that people are looking at investing in social enterprises contrary to what earlier it used to be only VC funding, but a lot of impact funding is available which are focused only on social entrepreneurs, Social entrepreneur social enterprises, if they are doing something meaningful for the society and you have a revenue model, that business model around it?

People are there to kind of support you give you grants, give you funds so that you can grow without thinking about initially of course, uh not the profit, but it needs to have, you know, our business models as well, but you'll have a fellow free handle no more, create more impact without thinking about, you know, the revenue part of the financial part. So the world is, you know, welcoming social entrepreneurs. The world is actually more welcoming with open hands saying that, you know what, if you're doing something really amazing, we are there to the book. That is something that I would like to tell to the audience wonderful, thank associating that. So that at some point of time, if somebody want to come and make a book, if they don't know the extent experiences based on the impact that you have created, what do you want to taken of that book to be called us? I think I would say act don't react or I would say be an actor, don't be a spectator. That's a lot of difference in between the connector.

Don't be a spectator. That itself brings a lot of difference. The mindset changes. And I think I follow, I told you I told you this thing because I follow that in my life. That couldn't have been any better title than that. I think, you know, lead from the front by seeing a challenge and doing something about it, definitely inspiration to many other first, what would be your message to the folks listening to this podcast. I would say that you know, there are a lot of times when they don't follow what we actually love and what they have always loved doing. If you don't follow your passion, just thinking one more little thing that you know, maybe it will make us financially weak and how are we going to go up? Another aspect is to all of them, I would say, take the plunge, take the risk. The worst that can happen is you would fail. There's nothing Apart from that do one thing you will rise again. We'll figure out definitely new ways because once you fail, you know, those are the things that you would not want to do and you will raise that and probably will become you come up with something really.

But you know, amazing thing, right. We all know the studio almost a tradition in I think if I'm not wrong, he said, I know 1000 ways of not making a bill. We know the story of uh angry but stay, they did not intend to make angry, but, but eventually it happened and it became the worst one of the biggest games in the entire world. So that's, that's something that I would like to emphasize on, hey chris until unless we take risk I think is gonna happen and for that, all you have to do is just take the first step, that's the most at first. But once you take the first step after that, there's no looking back, there's literally no looking back when we have taken the first step, it's very hard. Trust me, it's very tough. I have gone through that. But after that the journey is, you know, amazing, literally amazing, awesome. So that I'm sure a lot of the folks after listening to this who definitely want to get in touch with you want to do more of what we are trying to fix for the country.

What's the best way for people to reach out to you. As I said 814 pothole, I'm 24 7 available for any of your queries And speaking to any of you. So all you have to do is drop in a message 814 porthole is our number and you know how to decipher it. That's a magic number for a lot of us listening gate one for porthole. Exactly figure out so sort of, it reminds me of a very wise saying some martin Luther king in one of his um courts point is the beautiful struggle. He says it is in the struggle is the opposite e for growth beauty and we find the best in ourselves. I think it's the same beautiful struggle that I wish you the very best on your journey of embracing this change making an impact all the lives out there. Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure talking to you, getting some insights of what we have been doing, have a wonderful journey and the visual continued success. Thank you so much. I can't, I really trying to for having me on your show and wishing you all the best and all the luck in the world.

Thank you. Thank you for listening in to today's edition of inspire someone today. It's been a privilege to bring in these conversations if you like this episode and have any feedback or comments to make me at inspired someone today podcast at the rate at gmail dot com, inspiring someone is like creating recall surround us if you like what to listen, feel free to share them and let's create people's off inspiration. Do not forget to follow me on my instagram. Handle activate inspired someone today podcast with all the latest updates. This is freakin your host signing off and until next time. Keep inspiring. Yeah. Mhm. Mhm mm hmm.

E2 - Sourabh Kumar - Ripples of Change
E2 - Sourabh Kumar - Ripples of Change
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