Agents of change

People with passion can change the world’, reads the website of Josh Talks, a platform through which Supriya Paul and Shobhit Banga, both 22-year-old, aim to build a community of people who want to achieve something in their lives, and not let it pass by.

It gives a platform to individuals from varied fields to come together on one stage and share their stories of passion and courage.

“There was no such eureka moment that led to the conceptualisation of Josh Talks, but a culmination of a lot of conversations and observations. While Shobhit and I were in college, we realised that people around us just sat, went from one cafe to another, and let every day go by. There was no drive in them, or no josh, to get up and do something. People were ignoring their own potential, and we decided to change that,” says Paul, a graduate from Delhi University, who met Banga at a mutual friend’s birthday party.

She adds that they intend to build a community of people where each member pushes the other to work harder, overcome obstacles and achieve something they never thought in their wildest dreams was possible.

“We believe that people with passion can change the world. This is the belief we want to inculcate in them,” she tells Metrolife.

With a target audience comprising youngsters (16-25 years), the duo realised that “stories were the most powerful tool of communication”, and decided to stick to them. Their first event happened in April 2014, and since then they have organised eight events and covered around 100 stories. While Josh Talks is their annual signature conference, they also organise Josh Meets, monthly informal meetups.

“Our speakers are advocates of our belief. We do thorough research in various categories and shortlist stories of people who have created something remarkable, taken a leap of faith in life, followed their heart, overcome something incredible or just have an amazing experience to share. We make sure that each event presents a diverse set of stories so we make sure we cover different domains like entrepreneurship, social innovation, a young change maker, performing arts, stand up comedy and more,” explains Banga.

He, however, admits that while it was initially difficult to convince speakers to come on board, it got easier once they shared their ideas and beliefs. Adding, the duo says that sponsorships are, and have always been, a tough task.

“Convincing someone to invest their money in two 20-year-olds is not easy. However, things have changed with time. It was about getting the first brand on board, and now with past events to show, and many speakers backing us, sponsors understand the potential in investing in us. We also try and make sure that we give them value equivalent to the amount through traffic and sales,” they say.

Recollecting an episode, Paul says her journey with sponsorships started with repeated cold-calling on landline numbers which were redirected to 10 different people over a span of seven days, “to finally get to the right person only to be rejected”.

But how are they different from TED Talks?“TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and speaks about ideas that can change the world. As a platform, we focus on only sharing personal life experiences and stories, something which is very relatable to everyone in the audience. Our target age group is also the confused college goer looking for a push or direction to put him on the path to success. We curate our content in a way to be understood by younger audiences and also impact them on an emotional level urging them to do something big,” says Banga.

Adding, Paul says, “We’d like to call Josh a revolution or a dream machine, more than a company.”

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