I have attended similar workshops in the past, so, it was not about finding my dream per se but about implementing it. I entered the I Have a Dream program with an idea to start an online travel discovery portal with a social footprint. As a participant of the Community College Initiative Program (CCIP) in 2010–11, I went to Leeward Community College, University of Hawai’i in Pearly City, Hawai’i. There, living with students from five to six nationalities was an eye-opening experience and my scale of reference became global. With a major in Digital Media, I came back in May 2011.
I personally love travelling; however, most of the times when we think about travel, we tend to imagine a few popular places in any region. We do not think beyond four or five places, which leads to overcrowding in these areas, creating economic and ecological imbalance in the local ecosystem. My love for experiencing different cultures through travel and my expertise in web design, web architecture, video and graphics led to the conceptualization of Jolly Go Round, my travel portal. The app will provide a list of homestays and rental avenues along with range of various activities that can be undertaken there. Another distinctive feature will be a list of bloggers and friends, who have been to these places, sharing their travel experiences. Also, by diverting inflow of people to other potential areas within the region, we will promote tourism in less frequented places. This, we imagine, will reroute income to smaller areas while enabling the local vendors there.
Meeting my mentor, Avinash Dadhich, through the I Have a Dream program has been my best takeaway. Right from the beginning, our conversations were seamless, and exceeded and went beyond the convention of timeslots. A significant exchange of ideas happened over our first chat, which went on for over five hours. Those conversations were not one-sided, it was a process of mutual exchange and we spoke about so many things—from personal stories to goals and ideas for the future. My mentor is a lawyer with a holistic understanding of issues, and views everything from multiple perspectives. Despite his busy schedule, he makes himself accessible and is always there whenever needed, even at short notice.
There was an instance when we were supposed to present at a global entrepreneur event hosted by Entrepreneur Café. We had crunched all the numbers for the presentation; here, Avinash praised our work but also emphasized the need for a larger vision that goes beyond mere numbers. He suggested we draw people in, establish a special connect and then, move to the business part of it. We were ranked among the top six there. Regarding the program, the good part was there were timelines, and we were supposed to present our progress at the closing workshop. However, my project did not conclude with the closing workshop; my mentor and I are actively in touch, and he advises me and my team regularly on strategic and legal issues. We have a long way to go and I see my mentor at every step in this journey.
Vinay Kumar is currently in the process of setting up his online travel portal Jolly Go Round. He participated in the USG-sponsored Community College Initiative Program (CCIP), through which he attended Leeward Community College in Pearly City, Hawai’ii in 2010–11. He was mentored by Dr. Avinash Dadhich through the USG-sponsored I Have a Dream leadership and mentoring program for International Exchange Alumni.