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Crowdfunding, a way to earn fast buck on the net, catches up among IT savvy Gujarati middle class youth

By Satyakam Mehta
Crowdfunding, an internet-based practice of collecting money for small projects or ventures by raising small amounts from large number of individuals, is picking up as a craze in Gujarat’s penny-wise IT savvy youngsters. While many consider it as a way to earn a fast buck, one just needs to upload a project idea on a crowdfunding website, explain its concept, specify the funding you require, and just wait for individuals to transfer money to your bank account.
Take the case of Karan Pujara, son of a modest paan shop owner in Bhuj, district capital of Kutch, Gujarat, who at the tender age of 15 decided to do it after taking up a diploma course from a reputed institute. Soon, he realized he didn’t have the resources to buy expensive books. Bent upon wanting to buy books, which he preferred over going using library, he developed an online portal, studentdesk.in to buy, sell, rent and exchange books and magazines.
He got his portal project launched on a Gujarat-based crowdfunding platform, start51.com, and managed to get a funding of Rs 64,000, which he considers “generous”, though his target of Rs 1 lakh seemed pretty far away. Pujara tells Counterview, his portal aims to “help” readers by facilitating them with easy and free exchange of books, magazines and study material.
Students, he believes, can find used books from college or from their area using location-based tracking of books. He adds, "We want to build a community of readers by reaching to all libraries and school and colleges so that readers will have a wide range of reading material. We are also planning a mobile application of studentdesk.in for different platforms."
He is one of the many in Gujarat, who have “managed” to get financial help from this crowdfunding platform. In fact, those who control the site claim, there are eight out-of-the-box Gujarat-based projects which have got funded through Start 51. One of them is Ateet Bajaj, who was into chemicals and textiles business and is now the mover of the crowdfunding platform.
Bajaj told Counterview, "When I wished to start my own business, I had the support of my family. But it occurred to me that many youngsters often don’t have the resources to convert their dreams into reality for want of funds. That’s how I launched the crowdfunding portal.”
He points out, "Several innovative ideas need just about Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.” Bajaj says he started with the support of the Gujarat Technical University, but Start51 has not earned anything from the project. “The worldwide formula is that crowdfunding platforms get five per cent of the funding received by contributors, but we have not taken anything from the start-ups. We are backing them at the moment.”
Another project getting funding is of 22-year-old M.Tech. student Kinjal Chaudhari, who has developed an android application called Sign Speaks that helps interact even if you don’t have the knowledge of sign language.
According to Bajaj, “It is an interpreting app; a combination of verbal language as audio, Indian sign language as video and text. This mobile app has combination of verbal and Indian sign language such that by choosing what to say, one can express oneself without knowing another language. This makes communication possible for hearing and speaking impaired people in their own sign language.
Then there is Jayrajsinh Chavda, all of 24. His music documentary, “The Connoisseur's Journal” showcases evolution of music and culture in Ahmedabad. It tells us the story of regional artistes from theatre, arts and music background of Ahmedabad.
The documentary contains an elaborate collection of video footage from different music genres like rock, metal, pop, jazz, blues, Hindustani classical, traditional and Sufi, which have been performed in Ahmedabad since 2010. It also has rare footage from veteran musicians dating back to 1980s. The documentary, which is expected to be released in November, has got moderate funding though his requirement is some Rs 2 lakh.

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