Sucess Stories:
Her Story Her Way

Brief introduction about yourself and something about Your Dost? About Richa: Richa comes from an interaction design background with specialization in User Experience Design from IIT Guwahati. Prior to YourDOST, she has led the product development for webfluenz for 3 years – now, webfluenz is ranked among top 15 social media analytics tools. In March 2014, Webfluenz got acquired by Mu Sigma, leading Big Data and analytics solutions provider. She has also worked with D.E. Shaw & Co and o9 Solution in Interaction Designer and Product Management roles About YourDOST: YourDOST can be thought of as your personalized emotional wellness coach. Anyone going through emotional problems or anyone wanting to seek guidance or help on self-improvement, or issues pertaining to relationship, career, parenting, etc. can chat with our experts anytime, anywhere, while being completely anonymous through our website and mobile app (bit.ly/YDandroid). Through personalized guidance, our Experts help you develop:

  • Healthy personal relationships
  • A productive and satisfying work-life balance
  • A more focused approach towards achieving your goals
  • A more confident self
  • The ability to deal with stress, anxiety, depression and pressures of all kinds and from many sources – personal, societal, peer, etc

  What ignited the spark in you to start a unique venture, breaking the taboo & myths related to mental illness? I was actually studying in my undergrads in IIT Guwahati and it was around our placement time when one of my hostel-mate committed suicide. She had no visible signs of depression but then she took such a drastic step. This made me wonder how could that be, and that too when we had some of the best psychologists available to us. This incident is etched really deep into my memory. I couldn’t do much that time, but when I started working, I could see people around me stressed because of career, relationship, etc. and they were just not willing to share their feelings with anyone. And that’s when I decided that a change is needed and it should happen through me. This is when I conceptualized the platform YourDOSTan emotional wellness coach YourDOST aims to reduce the stigma attached to seeking help for mental wellness in our country and with the effective 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. We believe technology is a potential contender for filling these gaps – especially anonymity and reach. This has helped us get some early acceptance of this solution from people.   How has been your entrepreneurial journey been so far and what are your planned future goals for Happy Hands? My entrepreneur journey has been really exciting, I learnt a lot. Few incidents that stood out for me are

  • The day when our platform went live and we did our first live chat.
  • The day we were able to convert “Sanjay Anandaram”, “Bharati Jacob” and “Phanindra Sama” from our mentors to investors.
  • The day when I was selected as an INK fellow (for starting YourDOST)
  • The day Economic Times named us among the Top 15 of 2015 who are impacting millions of lives.
  • The day we moved to our own office from a 2bhk apartment.
  • The day we got a message on our Facebook page from one of our users saying, “You have been saving lives, and one of them was mine”

Our plan is to focus on the Indian market & crack this completely. We want to become a one stop solution for mental and emotional wellness of people be it personal, professional or academic. We are aiming to find high stress zones like colleges, corporates, coaching institutes and capture them one at a time. Our endeavor is to continue making people around more aware about mental wellness and break the stigma that surrounds it.   Did you face any financial or any other challenge while starting YourDOST The biggest challenge we have faced (and we still face) is to break the stigma associated with mental health in India. And we are still working towards it. Healthcare itself has been a field which is largely ignored in India. Coming out of a doctor’s clinic without a prescription or medicines means “usne loot liya”, etc. That’s one of the challenge mental health brings with it. Counseling sessions are mostly about empowering you to take decisions which would help make things better, not about preaching or prescribing medicines. It’s a solution found by an open conversation between two individuals in a proper setting. A lot of this is changing today.   Indians are globally among the worst sufferers of depression but still can’t stop following the age-old stigma attached to it. Do you think we need to broaden our mentality related to mental illness because just a small help can save a life & nothing can be more important than saving a life. Yes, most definitely. If you go by statistics, 1 in every 10 Indian is going through depression, and 1 in every 4 Indian have some or the other kind of stress and anxiety issues. Mental illness is as pressing an issue as physical illness and this has to change. All our efforts at YourDOST are aligned to bring this fundamental change in people’s mind and make the expert help possible even in the remotest of corners of India.   What piece of advice would you like to give to the aspiring youth who wish to pursue their dream of becoming an entrepreneur? 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.   According to you, what are the top three essential skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

  1. Passion
  2. Perseverance
  3. Open mindset (for learning)

  How encouraging has been the family before & throughout your entrepreneurial journey? Initially they were not so excited about it given my age and no steady income. They wanted me to get married rather than pursue an unknown path but after seeing my dedication, they feel proud. My brother was always by my side which helped me in convincing everyone else too.   What are your views and opinions towards the ambiguous need to promote women entrepreneurship and women empowerment in India? I think that is the way for India to grow from developing to developed nation. It is not like we don’t have talent, it is just that we need to foster that talent to shine and to be their best. An empowered women is a sign of a developed and progressive nation. I personally think we all as a community should come together and provide women a platform / a country to feel safe and to be their best.