Saying goodbye to our loved ones is always tough but it sends us into a state of shock when they are gone forever. Death of a loved one is a permanent loss that leaves us with a permanent void and we end of suffering for months or even years. When Richa’s friend committed suicide she was devastated and realized the importance of emotional health in people’s life and laid the foundation of YourDost, an online emotional wellness coaching platform.
Born in Bhopal, Richa Singh has always been a jovial person who had a lot of friends confiding in her. She excelled in dancing, painting, has been a national-level swimmer and tennis player. Not just this, she was brilliant in academics, too. After STD 10, she went to Kota to prepare for IITs and cleared country’s one of the toughest exams in her first attempt.
Richa joined IIT, Guwahati and towards the end of her graduation she was placed in a fortune 500 company. Her hard work of years had paid off and a life of comfort and luxury awaited her.
Richa was living her dream, she was enjoying the sweet fruit of her hardwork, and was posting milestones of success one after another. Just when she thought she had built a comfortable castle for herself, a bewildering news shook her foundation.
One of her good friends committed suicide despite being surrounded by psychologists, counselors, and various others present on the IIT Guwahati campus. Her friend chose to shut down instead of finding comfort in someone who could have saved her life.
Richa was so moved by this incident that she started studying psychology of people around her. She summed up the causes such an extreme step to be peer pressure, relationship issues, ambitions, being judged by the society. People around her were unwilling to open up dreading that they will be judged and mocked at. For them the easiest way out was to make a permanent exit.
These events led to the foundation of YourDost who changed the definition of social entrepreneurship. She created a platform for emotional wellness coaching where the staff helps people anonymously and encourages them to be the best version of themselves. This enables people to make anonymous accounts and reach out to the counselors through text, voice, or video calls online.
In the last two-and-a-half year YourDost has helped approximately 1.2 million people with an average of 200 sessions per day. These endless efforts have got Richa into the Forbes 2017 list of 30 under 30.
Richa shares an incident where she was deeply touched. A girl called her up and told her that she was in a very tough phase of life. She aspired to be a teacher while her parents wanted her to be an IAS officer. This put a huge pressure on the girl and she faced constant criticism for being indecisive about what to do in life. Unable to decide, she called YourDost where she was supported and guided by the counselors. Today, that girl is a teacher in one of the best schools of Delhi.
In a similar event, another lady contacted them. She was a widow whose parents and in-laws refused to take her back. She was married at a young age of 21 and had to quit her studies. There came a time in her life when she became almost spineless and it took a huge amount of counselling to bring that back. The only thing she was good at was tailoring. After proper counselling she was directed to start a boutique of her own. Today, she owns her own boutique and has applied to get her incomplete studies re-initiated.
“I want to spread as much emotional wellness as I can and make people a better version of themselves. I want to make the platform more responsible and take people out of their miseries.” – Richa
The roadblock that Richa came across while expanding YourDost was that people were not ready to accept it as a business plan, they took it as an NGO. Richa, however, hires engineers and states that if they don’t get funds the idea will become unsustainable. But luckily, her colleagues believed in her idea, took it as an entrepreneurial feat, and supported her endeavor.
“We were bootstrapped in the initial period of our operations. We have now raised close to $4,00,000 (Rs 2.5 crore) in angel round. Owing to the uniqueness of the idea, we were able to attract established entrepreneurs like Phanindra Sama of Redbus, Aprameya Radhakrishna of TaxiForSure, Aneesh Reddy of Capillary, and many seasoned investors like Sanjay Anandaram of Seedfund, Venk Krishnan of NuVentures etc to our investor portfolio,” says Richa.
The mantra of YourDost is to provide emotional wellness to as many people as possible and make people better versions of them.
Given her feat, lakhs of people have benefited from her organisation and continue to do so in the present. She suggests entrepreneurs to focus on the problem area. They must set up the forte in problem area and focus on finding solutions. Deep down everyone is vulnerable and thus they must find acceptance rather than passing judgement.
Richa is saving a lot lives and improving the emotional health of individuals. Share this story if you think we need more endeavors like this