“Seeking happiness on the path of life is ordinary; Adding happiness on the path of life is extraordinary.” – Naveen Lakkur
Most people start a project or a venture with an intention to make it big, gain wealth and seek happiness. Some people go a Little Extra and add happiness to other people’s lives through their projects. Let us look at some people who have added happiness on the path of life.
Story 1 –
There are more than 2 billion people on Facebook, 1 billion on Instagram and 500 million on LinkedIn. Most communication happens through images. But not all of them are photographers, neither are they graphic designers. There are many businesses with Facebook pages, but not many have graphic designing abilities.
People who go to college to study graphic designing take an entire semester to learn different buttons including where the buttons are along with the nuances of designing. This is why Adobe tools have a longer learning curve. There is a tool that even newbies can use instead of going to learn graphic designing.
In 2007, when Australian entrepreneur, Melanie Perkins was in university, she started Fusion Yearbooks to solve the challenge of putting yearbooks together. While it was difficult to secure funds to grow the business, she however, had prepared another pitch deck to pitch her second startup, Canva.
Melanie wanted to make the use of design tools as easy as using social media tools. The innovative platform Canva’s tools include a wide range of templates, fonts, colors, photos, and videos. You can design anything from Facebook covers to Instagram posts, logos, cards, infographics, etc.
Her strategy was to go a Little Extra and provide a freemium account, and then more tools were available for a subscription. The designs were stored in a cloud account. It was by chance that she connected with Hollywood stars Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, who invested $3 million in Canva before the website was up.
Melanie knew Canva would be able to add happiness to non-professional designers. With the new capital, Melanie reached one million users by the end of the first year. Canva has added happiness to its founders and stakeholders by becoming profitable in 2017 with more than 294,000 paying customers. Its value as of June 2020 is a whooping $6 Billion. But on the plus, it has managed to reach 10 million users in 179 countries today adding happiness to users by making graphic design easy.
Story 2 – Breaking Glass Ceilings
Born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents, Mashal Waqar is today the co-founder and COO of The Tempest, a media startup. She joined the startup as an editorial fellow while in college. She was however, trying to make her career in cybersecurity with a B.S. degree in computing security from Rochester Institute of Technology.
She along with the founder of Tempest Laila Alawa loved their mission of empowering women to take ownership of their voice. Mashal soon grew through the ranks and was invited by Laila to be the co-founder. In the new role, Mashal worked hard to be innovative and create significant traction for The Tempest among the readers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Seeing how their media startup was adding happiness to women in the Middle East, they decided to grow the platform with a dedicated focus on the Middle East. The going was tough for both the co-founders. While trying to raise money, Waqar came across someone who made verbal advances to her, traumatizing her.
Waqar had to learn the ropes of being a businesswoman. Deep breathing and mental preparation are the steps she took to prepare for meetings with support from her co-founder. The odds were stacked against her because only 2.2% of female founders got funding of $100 billion in VC funding in the US last year.
Waqar also had to be a mentor to the team. She invested in her team and learned what drove her team members personally and professionally. She is adding happiness to her audience, her employees, and stakeholders while growing the brand.
In 2017, Waqar went a Little Extra and gave a TED Talk on cyberbullying, social media, and women’s efforts to combat trolling. She also took up an opportunity to work on a UNHRD project to help children in crisis, approaching it from a behavioural and neuroscience perspective.
Today she is also a startup mentor at Techstars Startup Weekend, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), and StartAD. In 2019, she was recognized as Forbes 20 Under 30, transferring her knowledge to young people and adding happiness.
Story 3 – Shedding Light on Rural India
Mullaria village in Kerala had no electricity even after half a century after independence. Kerosene lamps lit most of the homes there, darkening walls and blackening lungs. Handattu Harish Hande stayed in the village and convinced the villagers to adapt to inexpensive sustainable projects.
Harish Hande was born in the temple town of Udupi and grew up in Odisha. He finished energy engineering from IIT Kharagpur and finished Ph.D. in energy engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Harish founded the Solar Electric Light Company (SELCO) in Bangalore in 1995. Most of Harish’s customers come from rural low-income groups. A farmer Aravind Rai was his first customer. Despite the resistance, Rai did not agree to install Harish’s systems. However, Harish installed the system in Rai’s home when Rai was absent from his home for free just to let him try it.
Harish came back after a week and saw a delighted Rai who paid the full amount of Rs.12,000 to Harish. This was just the start. Since then, Harish has managed to add happiness to the lives of more than 150,000 households.
SELCO’s systems consist of a panel, a battery, and a charge regulator. It can power low wattage appliances like lights, fans, television sets, mobile chargers, and radios. A fully charged SELCO system can function for 12 hours. SELCO also provides after-sales service. The team is available 24/7 to fix problems, and its products come with long warranty periods. SELCO has a lamp manufacturing facility in Mangalore.
Some of its popular projects include providing 1,000 homes in Karnataka’s Belthangady taluk, solar heating system to heat 100,000 liters of water a day in Dharmasthala’s temple, and vegetable sellers have successfully used rental lights provided by SELCO. The only drawback is that the system is not subsidized. To counter this, Harish and SELCO helps villagers in taking out a cheap loan to help pay for the system.
It has provided systems to villagers in Karnataka, Kerala, and Gujarat. Harish Hande’s SELCO has also been an inspiration to other organizations in adding happiness to the poor. Kolkata-based ONergy has been active since 2009 and installed over 3,000 solar lighting systems. Their aim is to create 50 renewable energy hubs in East India in the next five years and educate villagers about solar energy.
Mera Gao Power (MGP) provides 35 villages in Uttar Pradesh. Harish won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2011 for his efforts to add happiness to poor rural households. Harish opines that India can be the centre of innovation for the removal of poverty. Harish has moved away from SELCO, and since 2014, he is the CEO of SELCO Foundation with an idea to seed-fund aspiring young entrepreneurs from rural India with business ideas linked to fighting poverty, adding happiness on the path of everyone’s lives in the process.