Year: 2012. Place: A small bajji shop lined with small wooden benches; the smoke-laden air was heavy with discussions revolving around the Bandh (strike) in the city. In a corner, Jaydeep Rao and Sharath PR, both techies, sat snacking on bajjis and talking hurriedly. Little did they know that this conversation was going to mould their future into something bigger. It resulted in their online venture, knowyourstar.com. Techies by the day and writers by the night, they interview, write and publish profiles of the movers and shakers of today. “We bring you stories of people who have fought battles to bring about a change ,” says Jaydeep.
On their website they profile ‘unsung heroes’ who have taken up a cause and fought for what they believe in. In addition to this, they also make the struggle of others, their own.
“Great ideas strike when you are hungry. And this was exactly what happened to us. We were contemplating life and our passions that day at the bajji shop. That is when we realised that we wanted more than spending hours coding in office. We wanted to write so that our ideas touch thousands of lives. That is when the idea for the website was born,” says Jaydeep. Once the concept came about, like-minded people started coming together. And eventually a team of 13 techies was built.
A different passion
The group of 13 were always passionate about writing but when they graduated, they automatically enrolled in engineering or medical colleges, as every child in their family had done. And it was natural to go the same way.
So when Jaydeep and Sharath spoke about the idea to people from different companies and departments, their buried desires surfaced.
“We also wanted to set an example for other students who are being forced into engineering. Each and everyone should follow their passion. I get more satisfaction after writing for 5 minutes than the whole day of coding. We want the youth to push the boundaries of their comfort levels. Now is the time to look beyond the conventional,” says Sharath.
Connoisseurs and the common man have found equal space on the website. “It is the struggle and not the achievement we concentrate on. We have profiled famous people like Hariprasad Chaurasia, Shakuntala Devi, Vilas Nayak and also documented stories of people for whom everyday is a struggle,” says Jaydeep.
When you have a passion, you also find time to pursue it. Same is the case with them.
Lunch breaks and weekends double up as ‘work timings’ for their website.
And they say that once they take up an assignment, no matter how tired they are, they make sure they go through with it.
The youngsters also have a ‘no advt’ policy for the website, so they don’t let out spaces for advertisements on the website. Money needed for the project is shelled out from their own pockets.
When C Karthik, a person with special needs,
graduated after much effort, he didn’t know that there would be no takers for his skills. A Chennaite, Karthik struggled for almost three years going door-to-door but no one hired him. He knew he had to take responsibility of his life and eventually started his own library, Sri Chakra, with 40-50 subscribers.
Taking Karthik’s struggle a notch higher were the techies who recently raised 500 books through their website and Facebook page. They started the movement on their website and soon their inbox was flooded with requests from people, who wanted to donate. “You should have seen the smile on Karthik’s face when we gave him the books,” says Jaydeep.