Yes! I Am Happy is an initiative started by Shivam Kapoor, which is aimed at providing learning opportunities to children in urban slums, by employing methods that would help them grow holistically.
Our team interviewed him to gather further insight into this undertaking.
1. Tell us about your background. Share with us briefly, your entrepreneurial journey and inception of Yes! I Am Happy.
Coming from a humble background, with the support of my parents, I graduated as an Electronics Engineer in the year 2014 from Kurukshetra University. Initially, I seldom participated in social gatherings as it made me spend a lot and I had to save to make up for my expenses. Nevertheless, my wits and passion to strive for excellence paved the way to frequent achievements and laurels that came my way. When I was awarded with the best student of the batch- ‘Aman Waldia Award’, it made my choice to pursue an engineering degree a valid one.
I started an initiative (Startup) in the seventh semester named as RoughPolish wherein I presented many success stories and entrepreneurial journeys through a magazine. I still remember how my team, Anurag Tiwari (Co-Founder with Shivam), Sachin Bansal (CTO) were working smartly, the night before our first placement drive was organized and it was also the day our first magazine was to be released. Not taking up the job in an MNC or other IT companies was the best decision I made.
Right after finishing college, I went to Patiala and started volunteering with Patiala School for Deaf and Blind under the guidance of Col. Karaminder Singh, Secretary and Renu Singla, the Principal. This story was shared by TOI under their Joy of Giving Week.
In July 2015, I joined Piramal Foundation and Kaivalya Education Foundation as a fellow. I am currently working with 3 headmasters and over 70 teachers and 1800+ students in Urban Slums with the prime focus on classes 3, 5, & 7. I am creatively engaging these kids with Origami and storytelling.
2. What is Yes! I Am Happy all about? Tell us in detail about the services offered.
Yes! I Am Happy is not a registered NGO or a Foundation yet, but an initiative in its early stage.
Currently, we provide specialization in non-cognitive skills and capacity building sessions for upper primary graders, from classes 3-8. Our mission is to provide creative education, primarily through Origami and story-telling.
The initiative has been featured by TOI and has won a position in the domain of Non-Cognitive Skills in Primary Education at an event, Kaun Banega TNM organized by Piramal Foundation for Gandhi Fellows, Batch 8.
We also did a campaign to provide access to healthy food for poor kids living on streets. Apart from this, Bachat Bank for students by the students, has fostered importance of saving money and is running very well in 2 schools for over 7 months now.
3. What is the business model of Yes! I Am Happy? Can you briefly summarize the growth achieved in both volume and value from the Day One till now?
The Model basically works on Volunteerism and Crowd Funding over platforms like Ketto and Milaap. It can be summarized as creating a solution oriented project to cater to a problem pertaining to children from urban slums, and plan accordingly to receive help for mentorship based on network built from my previous startup, RoughPolish and the Society for the Welfare of the Handicapped, Patiala and Gandhi Fellowship.
More than 3000+ kids have benefited from the earlier run of the Happy Friday Campaign and the ongoing Rangeen Kagaz Campaign, started 7 months back. There has been no financial profits, anyhow, all that I receive as funding is given straight to the campaign’s implementation, along with my personal savings.
4. How was your journey as a beginner? What were the challenges you faced in setting up and scaling up your enterprise? Any hurdle that you faced or are still facing?
The journey has been really insightful and full of learning. From peer learning to critics on social media, all of it has shaped my entrepreneurial skills. My parents have played an important role by allowing me to step beyond my potential and financial setbacks to explore what I wanted to.
From Col. Karaminder Singh at Patiala School for Deaf and Blind, my teammates at RoughPolish, mentors like Harshal Korhale at Gandhi Fellowship, to school kids as young as 7, have given me learning – directly or indirectly. Also, Origami Mitra, Mumbai are helping me with tools and the know-how of Origami since my initiative Rangeen Kagaz has started. Sarika Baheti, founder at Neeranjali and the Director, Vectus Industries Limited has been one of my strongest supporters.
There are no such challenges apart from clings of regular work and other emotional setbacks. Funds raised did not completely meet targets, but I have managed well so far due to peer support.
5. Can you tell us about your other founders/core team, their background and rich experience?
I do not have a team so far but subject to the needs, volunteers are always there to support me. I do have a very sound mentor support for building my skills in Origami – Kamlesh Gandhiji and Mani Lalji at Origami Mitra, Mumbai. Mentors from fellowships are always there to support me. Sarika Baheti has been a supporter who gives me an enriched perspective for my learning and growth. Shweta Nagaria, has helped me present documentations and compile proposals to raise crowd-funding.
6. How is ‘Yes! I Am Happy’ funded? Any early stage money/seed stage experience that you would like to share with us?
Funding is needed to tackle problems dwelling in the urban slums regarding children. I manage this by crowd-funding through platforms like Milaap and Ketto. Sarika Baheti and Patiala School for Deaf and Blind have always supported me with funds.
7. Any other areas or initiatives that you plan to venture into in the future?
As of now my prime focus is to scale Rangeen Kagaz so as to bring happiness and joy in the lives of over 10 thousand children coming from humble backgrounds, through creative education- primarily Origami and story-telling.
To provide creative education to children in Urban Slums is my next planned move. I wish to grill my skills and foster my experience and knowledge before I step into social entrepreneurship, as an extension to my startup.
8. What will Yes! I Am Happy look like in 10 years from now? All perspectives – people, business, revenues, team, size or anything you foresee for the venture.
To be registered as a ‘Foundation’, with a well-built network of donors, working in at least 250 different schools located in or around the slums of India, starting with my hometown Saharanpur in U.P. and adjacent locations in its North is what I have planned for the coming years. Additionally, I also aspire to have a working staff of at least 25 members. This would include two years of working in collaboration with a similar foundation for initial set up.
9. Any school/ campus-connect initiatives that you are pursuing or plan to pursue?
All the campaigns are implemented and carried out in the urban slums, mainly at government schools. I thank the Kaivalya Education Foundation and Piramal Foundation for helping me in this aspect.
10. Any experience or advice you would like to share with soon to be start-up founders out there?
Working to the best of your abilities will make you learn at every step of your startup. The world has many problems, even though everybody knows it’s only some people who have the courage to actively focus on doing something about it. You can be the one to lift the dreamers and make it a reality. The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.’ Be the change you want to see in the world.’- Mahatma Gandhi
We wish Shivam good luck for this noble endeavor and hope he can fulfil the dreams of several young minds in these urban slums through his thoughtful initiative Yes! I Am Happy.
Check out his links-
Be a Happiness Agent! Visit Yes! I Am Happy
Check RoughPolish | TOI Feature
Want to know more? Write to him at [email protected]