Richa has always been intrigued by challenging work and is ready to face difficult problems. She loves solving complex problems by providing simple and elegant solutions. She has extensive experience with web-based products in domains as diverse as social media intelligence, analytics, finance, human resource management, medical counseling and enterprise resource planning. After completing her Bachelors of design in interaction design, she started her career as a summer intern. Slowly and steadily, she gained ample experience to climb the ladder of success.
However, over time, her desire to create solutions for social reforms took to her mind and she started to mull the idea of launching her own company. She came across the idea of building a support system to help people deal with stress. This is where YourDost came to the forefront. It is an emotion wellness solution where users can anonymously seek support from psychologists and other trained individuals.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
The idea behind YourDOST nurtured deep within us every time we faced or witnessed educational pressure, workload or a bad break up. The emotional trauma really does wear on our attitude towards life and our motive is simply to support you during these tough times. Research states that 20% of Indians suffer from depression and every 4 minutes a person commits suicide in India. Have you ever wondered why? If you look at people around you, you will realize a lot of your friends having problems, or times when you wished you had someone to talk to.
We have been there ourselves and we know how it feels. Most of the time we are not willing to talk about their problems fearing social implications, being judged and for the fear of being called mentally ill.
With the belief to fix this problem by doing something for people like us, we have built YourDOST (www.yourdost.com).
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
YourDOST aims to reduce the stigma attached to seeking help for mental wellness in our country and with the use of technology, make expert help widely and instantly available to people looking for emotional and mental wellbeing.
However ironic it may sound but the word “mental” is associated with madness and insanity. As a result, seeking mental counseling is a huge taboo in our society. Seeking support is considered a sign of weakness. Most of the times we keep our problems to ourselves because we are not very comfortable accepting our vulnerabilities. There are issues of discovery and availability also present with searching for a relevant counselor nearby.
Another challenge we face as a country today is the importance of Mental Healthcare. In fact, Healthcare itself has been a field which is largely ignored in India. Counseling sessions are mostly about empowering you to take decisions, which would help make things better, not about preaching or prescribing medicines.
How did you overcome those challenges?
We believe technology is a game-changer for filling the gaps of discovery and availability – especially with anonymity and reach. This has helped us get some early acceptance of this solution from people.
As soon as we started working our immediate focus was to create awareness about mental wellness and encouraging people to warm up to this. We built the website with an intent to create a knowledge pool so whoever is seeking any information on mental wellness should be able to look for the relevant information.
The website offers an array of options to explore mental wellness which comprises of inspirational and moving blogs, open discussions, uplifting quotes and one on one chat with special friends.
Secondly, we build the YourDOST platform where people can anonymously discuss their problems with special friends, which consists of psychologists and other experienced individuals. We support people in every possible way we can — by making them comfortable, listening to their problems and striving to be the friends of those who need someone to talk to. Over a period of 6 months, we have helped over 30,000 people by listening and helping them in the multiple ways.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
YourDOST – is an online counseling and emotional support system where users can anonymously seek support from psychologists and other trained individuals. We have built a user-facing platform, which helps people willing to seek support to engage with our experts and access self-help tools. On the other side, the experts are provided with a system to access the platform. This side is completely different than the user facing platform and gives experts the freedom to make notes, access history, read/ reply to messages and many other features including live chat with the users on a seamless basis depending on their availability.
What is your life mantra?
“Keep doing the good work, and people will start noticing you”
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
We were bootstrapped for an initial period of our operations but have now raised close to USD 400,000 (Rs. 2.5 crores) in Angel round. Owing to the uniqueness of the idea, we were able to attract established entrepreneurs like Phanindra Sama (Redbus Founder), Aprameya Radhakrishna (TaxiForSure Founder), Aneesh Reddy (Capillary Founder) and many seasoned investors like Sanjay Anandaram (Seedfund), Venk Krishnan (NuVentures) etc to our investor portfolio.
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
We are a relatively smaller company with close to 18 odd employees as of now. Over time, we have just been able to add people to join our mission and only a handful of them have actually left us owing to personal reasons or pursuing the higher study.
We believe that when you value your people and give them respect, freedom and ample opportunities to learn and grow, they value you and give their best.
As for the culture, we are trying to build a family where we know each other’s likes and dislikes, where we care for each other, be a part of each other’s good and bad times. For instance, a lot of us (esp cities like Bangalore) stay away from our families, so we try to celebrate all festivals together — be it Diwali, Christmas, New Year or any other festival / occasion, we celebrate it like a family with full josh and hungama food, decorations, gifts, music, dance, etc.)!
We know there will be times when things might not work as per the plan. The most important is to have the confidence of your team on you, for them to stand by you. Working at a startup more often than not is challenging so building a home like an environment helps tackle that stress associated.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
- Open mindset (for learning)
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
Focusing on what is essential and not what is urgent.
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
Eating junk food
Answer in less than 50 words
Think big, nothing is impossible.
- One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
Don’t do stuff just for the sake of doing or just because it has to be a tick in the checkbox. Make everything count.
- One most important lesson that you have learned till now:
It does not matter what’s your background. The only thing that matters is how much efforts you are willing to put to make something happen.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
Create a happier and healthier Indian society by Increasing awareness about YourDOST and bringing mental health to the forefront as physical health.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
I would want to start YourDOST much earlier.
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
“It doesn’t matter how big you start, what matters is how big you end”.