With a strict, no-nonsense attitude towards making charity simple, Ketto’s Founder and CEO Varun Sheth wanted to cut the drama around charity and giving, to make it fun and accessible to the young, progressive population of India. After graduating from Narsee Monjee College of Commerce & Economics in Bombay and working at leading financial institutions like ICAP and SCPL, it’s not surprising that the idea for starting Ketto came to Varun at a TED conference. A strong background in finance, a passion for crowdfunding in India and the drive to create something revolutionary led Varun to quit his job and begin laying the foundation of Ketto.
After months of research, Ketto was founded on August 15, 2012 and in a short span of time, has created an admirable niche for itself, helping empower the youth of this country to effect social change.
Here is Varun’s take on the evolving landscape of crowdfunding websites, the importance of digital media and his vision for Ketto.
How did the idea behind starting Ketto come to you?
The social has always been of interest to me and being a seasoned finance professional, the thought always was how I could marry those two concepts. That’s when the idea of using the internet as a platform to raise funds for social causes came by. The thought came across while I was attending a TED conference.
What was your vision for Ketto then and what is it today?
The vision has not changed much. The thought was pretty simple: to get the online youth of today to give back but do it in a fun way. The idea was to make giving cool, simple, reliable and easy.
How has the crowdfunding landscape changed in India?
Crowdfunding as a term is fairly new to India but the concept has been widely used all over India since centuries in local communities to build temples, schools and hospitals . Over 30 years back in 1976, Shyam Benegal collected Rs 2 lakh from 500,000 farmers to fund Amul’s ad film Manthan. It’s only now has the industry is seen getting relevance as it has become more organized and the internet has allowed it to become more and more global.
What role has Ketto played in changing the dynamics of philanthropy in India?
Ketto has created a unique bridge between the 100 million young Indian professionals who are online and internet savy and the 300 million people in India who don’t have access to basic social services such as education, healthcare, sanitation by using the access of NGO networks and providing these NGOs the necessary funds.
Can you highlight Ketto’s achievements in the past one year.
Raising funds to send luge athlete Shiva Keshavan to the winter Olympics in Sochi this year and sending Shweta Katti, the daughter of a sex worker in Mumbai, to the US for her undergraduation and many more.
How do you leverage your background in finance for Ketto?
It helps creating the right pitches and campaigns, and understanding the customers better on their expectations and how to best manage them. My finance background also helps me in speaking to corporate donors and
creating partnerships with them.