Igniting Passion Through Digital Platform
Now our goal is to reach out to the real India that’s the tier 2 and tier 3 where 70% of our population resides and they need this exposure and access to various passions.
(L-R) Karthik Kittu, Co-Founder & CEO, Abdul G Sait, Co-Founder & MD, Shubham Deva, Co-Founder & CTO, Passion Connect
A Gallup poll has found that only 13 % of workers feel ‘engaged’ by their jobs. That means they feel a sense of passion for their work. The remaining 87 % are doing jobs which they should not be doing, which they are not passionate about, thus underperforming as well as not being happy.
To help fill this void, three young entrepreneurs have started a technology-based platform that is going to make a difference in the lives of many individuals. In an exhaustive Q&A, Abdul G.Sait, Founder & Managing Director of Passion Connect talks about how the platform is unique and is expected to be a game-changer.
Talent / passion / interests are highly individualistic. Such being the case what made you start Passion Connect, a platform to tap passion among disparate set of individuals?
Today, the sad reality is that most of them are stuck in a job that they are not passionate about. They are stuck in a 9 to 6 routine which at the most helps them earn a living. But at the end of the day, what good is the money they are earning when they are stressed out, depressed and just not happy?
We wanted to step in here and help them bring back meaning to their life by helping them discover and rekindle their passion. The aim is to help them break out of the mechanical life that they are living. To identify, nurture and live their passion!
How does Passion Connect address the variety of talent people have? Or are you focused only on certain segments?
Passion really can't have segments, it is boundary-less and hence we want to open our doors to all kinds of passions. We do understand that each passion requires a different type of support and approach. However, we are initially focusing on Travel, Food, Fitness, Music, Technology, Dance, and Photography. But in time, with growth…we will expand to accommodate as many passions as possible.
Why do you think there is a need for such a platform?
Did you know that only 13% of the world follows their passion? The remaining 87% are stuck in mundane jobs. That's a large number of people with no help and we want to plug in that gap as much as possible. We want to be their stepping-stones towards their passion. It doesn't have to be something they take up professionally. By just making a little space for you to follow what you are passionate about every day, it helps them live a happier life and perform better in everything else that you do, who wouldn't want that? That's why we saw the need to help and hence built our platform!
Are they any models anywhere in the world, if yes, how different is yours?
There are a number of other platforms offline and online that help people follow their passion but they are usually always focused on a certain kind of passion eg: dance or music etc. They focus mostly on helping individuals with one part of their journey whereas we have our doors open for all kinds of passions and with us, the journey is never ending, it's an infinity circle where one can step in, step out and come back in whenever.
We believe in a 3-step module:
Identify- Identifying one’s passion through psychometric tests, curated articles, blogs, quizzes, polls and passion videos
Nurture – Nurturing one’s passion by sharing it with buddies and getting mentored by our expert panel of mentors
Live- Living your passion through our organized events (Bengaluru Passion League/ National Corporate Passion League) meeting mentors and through the internship opportunities we offer with various reputed organizations.
We are an entire eco-system within ourselves and this is unique to us and that separates us from others.
Is there an enabling environment in India for passion/talent to grow?
In the past, not too long into it, the answer would have been a definite ‘No’, but today there are a number of places that are providing a platform for passion to grow. There are a number of opportunities for people with no financial backing to make a mark, and most importantly there are a lot of creative careers that are being respected in the mainstream and more doors are opening up every day. Parents are also encouraging their children to look at different career choices. So, yes, India is developing an enabling environment for passion to grow but there is still a long way to go.
How did the idea of starting Passion Connect come about?
I have been working with many entrepreneurs for the past 13 years and I realized that many of them have unfulfilled desires in terms of their passion and that is affecting the quality of their life. Karthik Kittu, my co-founder, was working in the IT industry for about 9 years had the same observations and jumped the boat to start Passionconnect with me because he was passionate about helping people live their passion. He said that he had to wait for 21 years after his return from Germany where he was born to follow his passion rather than being stuck in a mundane IT Job . Shubham, another co-founder,, having just passed out of college, had a similar thought. When we researched there was no such platform. So, we got together to build one.
Has digital technology helped in Passion Connect reaching out to a larger base? Also, tell us when you started and what kind of membership base do you have?
Digital technology helps us in a big way, it helps us reach out to people all over the country and beyond. It is impossible for us to reach out to, say, maybe a singer in a remote village in Punjab all the way from here, without going digital. It also helps us provide up-to-date information on the various passions that our members are interested in, besides helping in connect them with mentors and buddies on a daily basis. We currently have a 60,000-user base and hope to see this grow to much greater heights and across geographical boundaries.
Can you give us some examples of the talent you have promoted through your platform and the heights they have reached which they may not have reached otherwise?
In November 2016, we held our first talent platform Bengaluru Passion League (BPL). BPL was both offline and online; we had over 500+ entries participate out of which a selected few got to perform live on the finale day. We had Rannvijay Singh of the MTV Roadies fame host the event and he was impressed with a drummer and shared his details with eminent people in Bollywood. The drummer also played at various cricketing events like the IPL. Our winners in the music category are now working towards bringing out their own album and also have their own YouTube channel. For us, it is lot more satisfying when, after the event, we see parents promising to support their wards in pursuing their dreams. On our Youtube Channel, many stars from various fields who are living their passion, have given their exclusives videos to motive others to live their passion. Some of them includes K L Rahul, Manish Pandey, Mayank Agarwal from Indian cricket team, Ricky Kej, Raghu Dixit from Music, Rana Dagubbati & Sruthi Hariharan from Acting, Bahubali Producer Shobu Yarlagadda, Martin Klassen, an award winning lighting designer amongst many others. What we are attempting to do is something that cannot be done overnight, it is a process and we have a number of people currently identifying and nurturing their passion… in time we are confident we will see greater results.
As a start-up, what kind of funding is needed to launch such a platform? And what is the revenue model for the same?
To start such a platform to reach up to a certain level, a funding of anywhere between $3million and $5million would be required. Since this is an experimental model, initial funding is required and also, people need to believe in the magical journey that we are currently on.
Our revenue comes from the identification process of one’s passion; our mentorship model will soon kick in, following which we have lined up our merchandise offers pertaining to the various passion groups. Other than this we will also be seeing revenue from our tests, events, passion courses and passion experiences. More than anything, the reason we do what we do is for the passion!
Can you tell us about your team and their passion? Are they in your company for the job or because it is their passion to promote passion?
We tell everyone whom we hire that they themselves have to follow their passion in order to be here. If, at any point, they find that they are not passionate about their given work, we give them an opportunity to move around within the other roles in the company or even outside if they choose to.
The team at Passion Connect is like a family and we constantly brainstorm ideas amongst us. There is no way that a person without passion can perform the way we expect them to… and they deliver!
Our partners have always emphasized on the fact that if we are not living our passion we must not be at Passion Connect; as living one’s passion is at the core!
What is the goal of your company?
Passion Connect was an idea, a thought to help people live their passion and be happy. We went from this idea stage to creating a complete platform, creating a movement where people rejoice in passion. We brought life in it by having live cases and we built the entire process of identifying, nurturing and living people’s passion. We did this beta in vibrant Bangalore and we have got a phenomenal response as we have done the course corrections along the way. Now our goal is to reach out to the real India that’s the tier 2 and tier 3 where 70% of our population resides and they need this exposure and access to various passions. Subsequently we will explore going international.
Our goal for this year is to turn Passion Connect into a revenue model because we need to swim the big oceans and we need the finances to support us. We also aim to work harder towards helping people follow their passion. We are currently working on National Corporate Passion League, Passion Mentors and Passion Experiences which will be much like BPL, but for corporates alone. We hope to change that 13% to a much larger number with every passing year. We want Passion Connect to be a go-to for everyone out there discovering himself or herself!
What is the growth strategy for the company, financially or otherwise?
First and foremost, we wish to build our user base and through the platform we aim to transform lives as we help our users - identify, nurture and live their passion! Another Top priority on the list is to help people identify their Passion through Tools available on our Platform
In terms of our growth, we believe the more we can engage people with their passions the better our growth will be. For this we have very engaging content and we are coming up with new features like Passion Buddy, Passion Mentors, Passion Merchandise. Also, we are gamifying the whole experience so one can earn points while he or she browses through our website or app. The key is getting people addicted to their passion.
In terms of finances we aim to become a sustainable model by the end of this year. If required, we might also take some strategic investment.
As the Co-Founder of the company, what are you most passionate about? How has it helped the company and yourself?
I am most passionate about entrepreneurship and fostering entrepreneurs and that's what I have been doing for the last 14 years. I have felicitated more than 40 entrepreneurs and co-founded 20 companies along with them, this has given me an insight that if people’s passion is kindled the potential can be unleashed infinitely.
What inspires or drives you to be a serial entrepreneur – is it returns, is it creating social impact or is it something else?
The kick of driving people to become entrepreneurs and watching them unleash their potential. This subsequently leads to great social impact because it leads to larger employment. Of course returns also matter at the end of the day because you have to create sustainable models.
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