A 13-year-old girl, Anoushka Jolly, has become the youngest contestant to pitch her entrepreneurial idea to the country’s leading investors at Shark Tank India. More importantly, she has gained the limelight for her idea, which is aimed at helping children of her age fight the cruel problem of bullying in schools and colleges.
Jolly, a class 8 student at Pathways School Gurugram, appeared on the Indian reality TV show Shark Tank to pitch the idea of an app called ‘KAVACH’.
However, this is not her first take at bullying as Jolly has earlier, too, dealt with the issue through a different app. “I was motivated by a pressing need to do something about the issue when I heard people’s stories of how bullying impacted them and made them feel powerless and less about themselves. It made me more sensitive towards the cause. I decided to take some action towards eradicating bullying by raising awareness as no one deserves to be in that mental state. This led to the birth of Anti-Bullying Squad (ABS),” she told Indianexpress.com.
The Anti-Bullying Squad is a social initiative that aims to minimise bullying on the ground by raising awareness. This digital platform acts as a community where specialists come together to organise one-on-one sessions in schools against bullying. The platform was set up with the aim of cutting down the instances of the issue significantly, and Jolly claims that with help from schools, NGOs and professionals, over 2000 students from 100+ schools and universities have been positively impacted through ABS.
While ABS was becoming a success and was fulfilling its purpose, Jolly soon realised that it was anonymity that played an important role in reporting of such cases. Many victims shy away from reporting such cases due to fear of further bullying, embarrassment and fear.
“After establishing ABS, I realised that if the issue or an incident is reported, it is often resolved. But anonymity is a big element that empowers the victim to share their side of the story without feeling threatened. Since KAVACH allows anyone — student or parent — to report incidents of bullying anonymously, schools and their counsellors can tactfully intervene and take appropriate action to prevent these occurrences from taking place,” she said.
The 13-year-old now wants to build a strong network of anti-bullying ambassadors, who will be able to get downloads and track their progress concerning the number of people and lives they impact directly or indirectly.
To achieve her goal, Jolly pitched her idea in front of the ‘sharks’ in the reality TV show ‘Shark Tank’, and received funding of Rs. 50 lakhs from Anupam Mittal, founder and CEO of People Group (shaadi.com) and Aman Gupta, co-founder of boat. “They understood the magnitude of the issue at hand and the impact KAVACH tends to make on the youth of the country. Initially, I thought I wouldn’t get a deal that day. However, then Mr. Anupam made me an offer and gave me exactly what I asked for and before I could process the splendour of that situation, Mr. Aman jumped in and agreed to a two-shark deal,” she recalled.
Jolly now aims to learn about brand building from Aman Gupta and learn ‘ideation and execution’, as well as brand forecasting from Anupam Mittal.
‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’
On the occasion of ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’, Jolly sends out a message of hope to all her fellow dreamers. “It’s time we recognise and celebrate the critical role women play in science and technology. So, to all the girls and women out there interested in or working in STEM, you are acknowledged and appreciated, let’s make a difference.”
Jolly also received support from her school faculty and her classmates. “We take immense pride in the spirit and passion of Anoushka Jolly whose work towards eliminating bullying in schools and campuses is not only educating many about the issue but also empowering young and old to stand up for themselves and for others,” said Capt. Rohit Sen Bajaj, Director, Pathways School. “She began her journey with us at Pathways School Gurgaon and being a Pathwaysian, we wish her remarkable success in this and all her future endeavours. We truly believe in her exceptional capabilities and will continue to support her in all possible manners.”