Vivek Satya Mitram is the founder of AdviceAdda.com, a portal that offers free expert advice on a wide variety of topics to teens who are going through various problems and dilemmas in their lives. A former journalist, he has been reporter, output head and channel head, working with PTI, Star News, Sahara Samay, India News, and NWS. He defines this journey “damn successful”, but adds that “I wanted to do social work for my people, my country and my generation. I wanted to help youth to be free of asking to make them free of tensions.”
Vivek explains, “Most teens go through the same physical, emotional and psychological changes. These raise questions and doubts that often remain unanswered.” In the long run, failing to provide clear answers to these queries can give rise to many misconceptions that might ultimately affect their personal and professional adult life.
“In India, even now, nobody talks about sex openly, even if they are facing problems. AdviceAdda.com talks about everything which is part of a teen’s life. We discuss sex as well, but just to share information about health measures and not as an instrument for pleasure,” says Vivek.
The website offers the counsel of psychologists, sexologists, gynecologists, dermatologists, physicians, career counselors, motivational speakers, beauty experts, fitness trainers, financial advisors, lawyers etc. “Access to such a broad variety of experts allows users to receive information on virtually any topic,” says Vivek.
The service is free of charge and user identities are kept anonymous. According to Vivek, AdviceAdda is the first platform of this kind in India. “Other websites provide similar help, but they are all commercial and charge for their services which discourages people to some extent. I decided to keep Online Advice Service completely free.”
The anonymity of users allows them to express their doubts without compromising on their privacy. “Once we receive a query, it is forwarded to a relevant expert within 24 hours. We send the advice back to the user’s account and post it on our website so that people with similar issues can also benefit from this,” explains Vivek.
He says that most of the queries AdviceAdda receives are about education, career, relationships, depression and sexual health. Users are mostly between 18-25 years of age and are 60 per cent males and 40 per cent females. “The interesting fact about our audience is their regular engagement,” says Vivek. “The user who asks a query gets back to us more frequently with new problems.”
Vivek confesses that users’ loyalty is his best motivation. “We launched five months back and so far we have received more than 300,000 hits on our website. Per day we have 5,000-7,000 readers on our website on an average and till now more than 2,000 people have registered with us.” He adds that the success AdviceAdda has had so far has come without any promotion.
The website is not generating any revenue for the moment, although the team is thinking of ways to enhance it. Vivek says that the two main projects in this direction are the on-ground workshops in schools, colleges and corporates; and the online individual counseling programs on career guidance, psychological problems and relationship issues based on the most frequent queries they receive.
Vivek adds that AdviceAdda is looking for funding and support from like-minded organisations and individuals. He argues that the website has great potential to become a profitable venture for its capacity to connect all kind of brands, products, and services to a young audience.
As any good entrepreneur, Vivek dreams big. “I started this website with an intention to help 75 crore young Indians who do not have any support for getting answered questions they have in mind. Now, I want to see AdviceAdda.com more popular than Twitter and Facebook because it’s not just about sharing feelings; it’s about sharing problems and getting real solutions,” he says.
Vivek concludes by bringing the focus to the broader picture:
“We boast of being the youngest nation in the world and our Prime Minister points to this huge manpower to invite other countries to invest in India. But how can this manpower be constructive if every year more than 50,000 Indian youth commit suicide due to problems they couldn’t share with anyone (mainly family problems, financial issues and love affairs)? Let us make our young people’s life tension-free. Only then they will be able to play a role in making our nation a vishwa guru.”
Hailing from Punjab, 28-year-old Anand Arnold’s mission is not to let his disability define him or hold him back. Even after suffering from life threatening spinal cancer at the age of 15, he has not let go of his dreams. Even after he recovered, he was left paralyzed from neck down.
Despite being confined to his wheelchair, he started working out. Already weakened by his treatment, his only support was an undying spirit of not giving up so easily. Fast forward a couple of years, and according to IndiaTimes, today his tally consists of 3 Mr India titles, 12 Mr Punjab titles and 27 other major titles.
Today, Anand is also the face of Muscle Mania and a brand ambassador for a nutrition supplement company, as well as a model for a range of popular action toys. According to the UK based Metro News website, Anand’s father, Mr Prince Arnold is incredibly proud, as he says, “any father who has such a son will definitely be proud of him. So am I.”