If you just have a look at the honor and awards that have been presented to Sharad over the last couple of years, you will get a viable idea about his ingenuity and vigor to make a change. At the small age of 16, he founded Dexterity Global, an internationally awarded social enterprise that designs solutions and platforms to help democratize education and create greater access for middle school and high school students to scholastic and co-curricular opportunities, resources, and platforms.
The next five years, surely overwhelmed both Sharad and others associated with him looking at the kind of impact his startup had on people. During this time, it engaged close to 1 million students in more than 46 countries across six continents, online and offline. Sharad also sits on the Board of several startups and advises several others informally. Sharad’s vision is to democratize education and create a platform for every child.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
Dexterity Global democratizes access to educational opportunities, empowering students to change the world by giving them access to its ecosystem of innovative educational platforms.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
I saw how my parents who had fought their entire life for their own education were yet again fighting for the education of their children. They put up an incredible fight. And, their fight matters to me. I want to make sure that no parent ever again has to fight that hard to send their kids to school, to secure good academic and co-curricular resources and opportunities for their children, or to save enough bucks to “buy education” or “buy educational access”.
And, that’s the reason why I set out at Dexterity Global to create a world where the access to education would be truly democratized, where every child will have a platform to look forward to, and where no parent ever again will have to choose between skipping meals and sending kids to school.
What is your life mantra?
“Consistency. Clarity. Courage.” I like to stand for consistency, clarity and courage in my thoughts, words, and actions.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
The world today is so used to “helping poor kids”, “donating to charity”, and “saving the world through summer projects” that enabling people to look at systems level, all-inclusive, self-sustained and scalable solutions was challenging. We work for children. We don’t ask for donations. And, we believe non-profit is a legal structure and not a business model. And, to inspire people to move beyond traditional approaches to “doing good” has been challenging but very fulfilling.
How did you overcome those challenges?
We inspired confidence in ourselves, reflected that in our actions and models and results, and it eventually began inspiring confidence in all parties alike.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
We have a self-sustained business model. We haven’t raised any outside investments or a single penny in donations. However, despite that, we’ve created a magical model which says, “If you can pay, you pay. If you cannot, Dexterity pays.”
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
We are not creating a startup; we are creating history. Money is not our sole focus; impact is. And, thus, boys and girls working at our offices are making history together. They are neither concerned about paychecks nor lured by it. The day we stop living up to our promises, they will leave. It’s a promise we have made to ourselves and to the organization.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
- A Monk’s patience
- A Warrior’s courage
- A Child’s imagination
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
Google Business Tools are great. Asana is an amazing task manager. Dropbox is useful too.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
I walk a lot. It helps me think better and also pumps me up for the next task
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
Maybe, I am too demanding a CEO. I would like to get a little softer there (but, not too much).
Answer in less than 50 words
One tip to success:
Pitch your idea to as many people as you can.
One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
Avoid the “I am always right” syndrome. It hinders learning. It’s alright to make mistakes.
One most important lesson that you have learnt till now:
Surround yourself with optimists. It helps.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
We are hoping to contain growth for the next two years. Test out our backend and bandwidth completely so that there isn’t a single micro-scopic error. And, then explode, hopefully crossing the 200 million mark and encompass every single SAARC country.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
Start even earlier. (Started at about 14 though.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
- California (I amn’t into vacations yet. I work 24×7, 365 days.)
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
Sorry, it’s a little long but I truly hope every child grows up reading this and every honest entrepreneur reads it once a week.
“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” – Mother Teresa