We were lucky to have the chance to talk to Vivek Satya Mitram, Editor & Co-founder of AdviceAdda.com. For over 12 years, Vivek had a very successful career in journalism with reputed news organisations, like PTI, Star News, India News & Sahara Samay. He became India’s youngest Channel Head in TV News Industry when he was just 28 years old. He was instrumental in launching 4 national news channels as Output Editor, Assignment Editor & Channel Head.
He decided to leave and start AdviceAdda.com, a platform where youth in India can get expert advice on every part of life, ranging from relationships, careers, education, beauty, personal finance and much more. Everyday, 7000-10000 youths visit the website.
1. Why did you start AdviceAdda?
There is no one line that I can tell, why I started this website. There were many things which combined together and ultimately AdviceAdda.com came in to existence. But yes! in one line, it was a strong realisation that I was not doing the work that I always wanted to.
The very first thing which actually started this process was a strong confusion about my job. My career was extremely successful in terms of growth & exposure, but still I was not enjoying it.
In 2013, many questions started haunting me 24X7 in 2013. “Am I doing the right job which I wanted to? Did I choose this career for whatever I am doing? Am I enjoying my work the way I used to when I started? Am I going to do this only for another 30 Years and for what?’’ Somewhere, I started feeling as if I am not able to do justice with my feelings, my values, my capacity & my life goals.
While working on human angle stories, I saw that our youth population is very vulnerable. They have a lot of questions in their minds to ask but they don’t. They have a lot of problems to share but they don’t. They have a lot of curiosities to get addressed but they don’t. They have a lot of secrets to share but they don’t because they are not suppose to ask, share or discuss these issues in their families in the name of cultural, moral, traditional values.
This silence becomes a life threat for them. Every year, over 60,000 youths (16-29 years old) commit suicide, according to the NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau).
I was deeply concerned about this situation. We are losing thousands of lives but there is not even a single platform/ helpline number where these people can access to share their problems. So, I took this challenge and thought of creating a platform where people can avail ‘Expert Advice’ on everything they go through for free.
2. Was it hard leaving your successful career in media?
No, not at all. When you realize whatever you are doing is not worth doing, then every passing day feels like wasting your time. So, leaving the successful career in media was not a challenge for me.
However, planning the next journey was a concern. I belong to a middle class family. In a very short career of 12 years in journalism, I haven’t saved a huge amount of money to invest in my idea and survive without earning for the next few years
Ultimately I decided to go for it because I was damn convinced about my idea, and it’s potential as a Social Entrepreneurship venture. I personally believe, you can do wonders if you are convinced with your idea and you carry the skills that are required to implement your idea. And if you want to create history you will have to give a try to your idea to validate it. There is no gain without taking a risk in life.
3. Where do you envision Advice Adda going in the next 2 years? How is it going to go?
We are doing good in terms of our reach and services. Now, our first priority is on evolving a revenue generation model without disturbing our social commitment (Providing Free Expert Advice to youth & teens). We are trying to work out on various revenue models which are yet to be experimented.
Secondly, we are looking for funding from like-minded people, organisations or groups who share same set of values & principles. So that, we can sustain our idea and we can take it to the second level where we will require bigger expert panel, larger team, more resources to serve people in large numbers. We are not worried about making this website profitable venture, but we are concerned about earnings to grow. We want to develop services that are extremely essential for serving millions of youth & teens in India.
We have plans to go for Vernacular Editions of the website so, we can help even them who has language barriers because for us, AdviceAdda.com is not just an idea but a life saving tool.
4. Can you tell me about a time when you thought Advice Adda was going to fail? How did you overcome it?
Hahaha! (laughs) No…not even in dreams. Because, I know every idea requires some grace period to get validated. I have full confidence on my idea, my vision and my team. It may take some time but it will be a huge success one day.
I must tell you, I have a great team with me at AdviceAdda.com, which is damn energetic, hardworking, extremely talented. Everyone work really hard, they care for society, they have courage to take challenges and they are not afraid of being unsuccessful. What else you need to Rock?
Even if you go by simple business rules, “where there is a demand, there has to be a supply”. In our case, there is huge demand but there is no supply. So if you are first & only in the space of demand-supply chain, how the question arises of failure.
5. What is the scope of Advice Adda? How many people contribute to the platform? How many questions do you get a day?
As of now we have 7-10 staff on the team and more than 50 experts on our website. Every day many new experts join our panel. We have around 7,000 to 10,000 everyday visitors and we receive more than 200 queries a day which is increasing sharply.
There are over 200 million youths in India with access to the internet. Most of them has a lot of problems in their lives to share. As India’s first & only non-commercial Advice Website, we have enormous scope to grow.
We really need all round support from every corner of society to sustain this idea. Professionals can join as experts, writers can contribute articles, media outlets can create awareness of our initiative, and college students can volunteer or just tell their friends about AdviceAdda!
6. What are the most pressing issues facing youth today? What are some of the most common questions you see?
When we started the website, we thought we are going to be bombard with a lot of questions on relationship & sex – but actually 50% of queries are about education and careers. The other 50% include many queries in Relationships, Sexual Health, Depression, Beauty and much more. The questions are unique, unprecedented & sometimes very awkward. But, this is the truth of young India.
From the queries, I see that today’s generation is very confused about life goals. They are after everything that they feel could be a safeguard for them.
7. What is one piece of advice you would give to youths in India?
Life is not just about earning money, facilities & fame. It is larger than our imaginations.
While planning your career, you should not be influenced by your parents, your friends or the latest trends. You should not think, how much you want to earn but what exactly you want to do?
Instead, think about how you want to be remembered after 40 years in the society. And then you should analyse your skills, your talent & your physical viability to achieve success in your career. Because, until you enjoy your work, you can’t live a happy life in the true sense.
I left a damn successful career just because after 12 years I realised I wanted to do something else. I think nobody should waste their precocious time in life. Every moment of life is important, it won’t come back to you. Just figure out your passion and choose that as your career. The rest will follow automatically.
Have a question about life but don’t know who to ask?
Submit your query on AdviceAdda.com. Your identity is kept confidential, and you can receive advice from experts at no cost. : )
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