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Madhavi Shankar

In recognition of her contribution, Madhavi, 29, was invited as a speaker to United Nations.

BENGALURU: Madhavi Shankar is a young, passionate, socially committed entrepreneur who advocates equal educational opportunities through her start-up SpaceBasic- an interactive hurdle free application for student housing. In recognition of her contribution, Madhavi, 29, was invited as a speaker to United Nations. Within two years, her engagements resonated through a series of appreciations, awards and recognition from the country.

Speaking about her encounter with the start-up ecosystem, Madhavi Shankar takes Deccan Chronicle through her two-year journey from an entrepreneur to becoming one among the 9 ambassadors for UN’s ‘One Million Global Youth Leaders for Sustainable Development by 2030 (1M2030) initiative launched in Geneva. She was invited along with her co-founder Aiden Bingham to represent SpaceBasic.

One afternoon, on a working day, I found myself resorting to watch a series after delegating work. This was the initial trigger that urged me to yearn for four-and-a-half years of hard work that resulted in my promotion as a Product Manager at Vodlo Pty Ltd, a start-up in Sydney. I missed the feeling of working at the ground level in a start-up, like we did in building Vodlo with a 5-member team. Instead of looking for a change in job, I decided to experiment by setting up one myself.

While this urge lay deep within, it bore fruits after my meeting with Indu Navar, my mentor and co-founder of SpaceBasic. I decided to move with my parents to India to work towards fulfilling my dreams.

What is SpaceBasic and its social outreach?

SpaceBasic is an interactive networking platform, where we address critical problems like student safety checks, digital data management, open and improved communication channels between all stakeholders within independent student housing communities (SHC) and SHCs in schools and colleges. Founded in 2017, SpaceBasic is headquartered in the US with Bengaluru as the functioning branch in India. We have currently collaborated with over 70 educational institutions and 120,000 users in Karnataka with two set-ups in Delhi and Mumbai.

We also work towards creating equal opportunities for students by connecting them with global companies seeking student engagement in the form of internships, skill development training etc. To provide equal educational opportunities, we have expanded our reach towards tier 2 cities in Karnataka. Based on our collaboration with UAS-GKVK, Bangalore, 20+ students were chosen for a 6 month farming internship in the US. By 2020-21, I want to be able to reach out to 1 million students from the world. With calls of interest from the Middle East and Vietnam, we want to impact lives of students pan India and pan World.

What were the challenges that you faced in the transition from being an employee to that of an entrepreneur?

Challenge for me was to basically sail through the mindset internally and externally. By internally, I mean the effort of getting accustomed to the Indian working space and moving in with parents as I was an overseas student and an employee. Externally, I would directly like to specify the social norms of prejudicing women’s roles in the society.

Can you give some insights about your recent participation at UN’s ‘Beyond 2030’ initiative?

There are about 1.2 billion youngsters globally, and this number is expected to grow by seven per cent in the next two decades. I was one among the 9 young leaders invited as a speaker and panelist at the United Nation’s ‘One Million Global Youth Leaders for Sustainable Development by 2030.’  This was launching event to train the next generation of community entrepreneurs.

On this occasion, 9 speakers including me were appointed as ambassadors and committee members, by Dr. Walters, Director of Global Challenges Forum to lead the march to attain the sustainable goals.

Whom would you like to attribute this successful journey?

Behind every successful man is a woman. However, in my case, I believe, behind my aspiring journey was my father’s support and guidance throughout. Sim ilarly, without Indu Navar’s mentorship and confidence in my spirit was indeed the turning point in my life. My mother and sister raised me to become independent and fierce. Also, my great founding team has made my dream work.

As an advocate for global women educators and employment, what is your contribution?

Giving back is in our corporate philanthropy. We are part of the movement called Pledge 1% movement. We pledge 1% of our profits, time and software to reinvest into our community and towards educating women each year.