Expert tech design help for startups

As the second devastating COVID wave rips through the country, communities and individuals are stepping up to help. From appeals for oxygen and hospital beds, to channeling food and funds, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become the country’s principal avenues of amplification.

This story focuses on one initiative by technology, design and product practitioners, who are offering you their time in exchange for a donation to a COVID cause.

On April 23rd, Anshumani Ruddra, Group Product Manager, Google, tweeted that he would give two hours of his time to anyone who donated Rs. 50,000 or more to any COVID cause they believed in. He would share expertise on topics like product building, organisation structure and career advice. “Heck”, he said,“I will even write your Product Requirement Document (PRD)”

Ruddra says that while he had donated money to several causes, he still felt a sense of helplessness. This was a way of creating greater awareness and nudging people to give more. His feelings clearly resonated within the ecosystem. Many others have followed suit, starting a trend of sorts.

This includes people from Prem Panicker, the eminent journalist, who will spend time with you to discuss your writing, to design leaders like Jay Dutta, Senior Vice President, MakeMyTrip, who will help you tackle design, career or team challenges. Founders like Ravjot Chug (Upgrad) and Vivek Hallekere (Bounce), have offered to guide startups, while Sanket Shah, Founder, Invideo, said he would also rope in experts from his team.

Here’s a partial, alphabetically sorted, list of people who have currently volunteered their time in return for a donation to a COVID cause.

Rahul Chakraborty, Designer, Google

Ravjot Chug, Co-founder, Upgrad

Jaydeep Dutta, SVP, Design, Go Ibibo MakeMyTrip

Aastha Gaur, UX Director, Google

Vivek Hallekere, Co-founder, Bounce

Pushpak Kedia, Early Stage Investing, Sequoia Capital

Madhuri Maram, Co-founder, Xperian, Nocode expert

Prem Panicker, Journalist

Siddu Ponappa, Senior Vice President, Internal Products, Gojek

Shashank Sahayy, Designer, Whatsapp

Kaushik Subramaniam, Global Lead, Business PM, Facebook

Sanket Shah, Founder, In-Video

For a complete list, see this Twitter thread by Diwakar Kaushik, Co-founder of community, Creators of Product, or visit their site for Covid resources.

Questbook, an upskilling app has even created a page for this on their platform. 120 members have already signed up at covid.questbook.app, including engineers from YouTube, Facebook and Google. There are also Indian students from Cambridge and Oxford, offering help with admissions. Co-founder, Questbook, Sriharsha Karamchati says that total donations have reached Rs. 16 lakh in just four days.

The THC View

Ruddra opened up 2 x 2 hour slots on Saturday and Sunday for the next thirteen weeks and these are sold out for May and June. People wrote back to ask him for time later in the year. Shah of Invideo also says his weekend is booked solid by startups seeking advice.

While offering time for a cause is a well-established paradigm in the world of philanthropy, almost every type of ‘incentivisation’ was in play over this last few days, as people sought to use their influence to encourage donations. Co-founder of private equity firm, True North, Haresh Chawla collected a sizeable sum for charity “Doctors For You” by matching donations. Designers like Jack Butcher and Amrit Pal Singh offered NFTs, with proceeds going to COVID relief efforts. However, most of these worthy efforts are borne of – and will end – with the pandemic.

With this ’Time for Good’ offer, we wonder if Ruddra has managed to seed a movement, that could well endure beyond the current crisis.

Young businesses are struggling and professionals are worried about their careers. This unfortunate situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. There are very few structured and scalable ways to unlock the time of senior professionals and allow them to share their expertise with people who could greatly benefit from it.

Globally, there are for-profit networks like GLGInsights that have adjacent models. Could we create a structure in India, which delivers benefits for both the receivers of advice, as well as the receivers of donations?

What do you think? Would you be interested in either availing of this offer or making one yourself? Let us know in the comments.

Considering the overwhelming response to this story, we are planning a follow-up piece. Drop your questions in the comments or mail us at community@thehardcopy.co

9 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, these are great initiatives. But as you pointed out, they have cropped up because of the circumstances. Have worked in places where many senior folks were more interested in throwing their weight around instead of teaching and nurturing. THC can actually create an upskilling community to take this forward.

  2. There have been multiple attempts to create upskilling model (remember clarity). Prob is when you take a marketplace model it just doesn’t work. This is about trust and vetting. As Pawan says, THC can do this.

  3. Useful article. Twitterati assume all of India are monitoring their tweets but many of us had no way of knowing abt this even if we want to book time. Can THC facilitate this further?

  4. Please do a follow-up article. I am betting that the big co guys have more responses than they can handle. It would be valuable to understand what were the patterns in the qs asked

  5. Agree on the need for a follow-up article. Here’s my bet. The people will be totally confused about what they need and will end up feeling like they gained nothing much. Luckily this is for a good cause so you won’t get complaints. If it was for a fee, there would be snark on Twitter.

  6. Do it do it do it Team THC. Just do it. I would love some sensible advice. The world is such a fucked-up place right now

  7. To the wankers saying 50k and 10k is high. You get one hour of solid advice that would change the fate of your startup. It’s actually unbelievable value for money. And a great cause. Hope to see more of this. As the story says, there is no way to actually do this in the real world

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