While many keep on with their indifferent attitude to help the destitute, Varun Verma has emerged to be different. He is the proud owner of iSpiice based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India, and has been unleashing his passion for volunteering and contributing to improve the lives of poor women and children across the country.
“You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” This is what gives Varun Verma the inspiration and zeal to do something meaningful and valuable for the poor and the less privileged.
Varun was raised in a small village in North India with the dream to improve the wretched conditions of the country’s rural areas. With support from a large pool of international volunteers, he regularly conducts educational programs in different rural areas across India including day care centers, schools and slums. He has earned huge appreciation for his powerful volunteer work and every week, more than 100 children participate in his programs.
At present, Varun boasts a strong and vast network of dynamic, dedicated and cheerful volunteers round the globe. With his iSpiice being just 8 years old, Varun is sharply focused to do lot more for the development and welfare of the communities in the rural India.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I started working for NGOs at the age of 18. Spending almost 10 years volunteering in the slum areas in Delhi, Mumbai and Goa, what really depressed me is the never-changing conditions of the country’s rural areas and the lack of the basic facilities there.
I strongly feel that everyone has the duty to change and better their surroundings. This belief led me to start iSpiice in 2008. For the last 8 years, iSpiice has been successfully working with different communities to conduct various educational programs to help children and women live their dreams.
How do you make money?
I make money from individuals and communities that are interested to volunteer with iSpiice. iSpiice is not backed by any funds from the Government.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Answer: It took me nearly 3 years to secure a strong foothold for iSpiice.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Initially, I was pretty much confident that my keenness to change my surroundings for good and my dream i.e. iSpiice will find acceptance. From my 10 years of volunteer work, I can say that a lot of people in the rural and remote areas are very much eager to embrace the light of education and fulfill their aspirations. The lack of facilities and the discouragement from families hold them back. My aim is to prevent these stumbling blocks. So, I never did have any doubt that iSpiice won’t work.
How did you get your first customer?
Getting online has a lot of advantages for your business. So, I decided to take iSpiice online. I got a good response and my first volunteer after promoting iSpiice website on Facebook.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
It is word-of-mouth publicity. Volunteers who have worked or working with iSpiice tell their circles back home to come and join us.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
There hasn’t been anything like that.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
By catering to the basic essential needs, iSpiice has brought meaning and happiness in the lives of children in many communities. My success lies in the smiling faces of these children.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Many volunteers who have worked with us once reach us time after time to work with iSpiice. Nothing can be more rewarding than this.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I would like to help orphan and mentally challenged children. Seeing them smile is the most priceless thing for me.
Starting an orphanage and a school for mentally challenged children is a long-cherished dream of mine. I am really excited and optimistic about it.
What business books have inspired you?
Nelson Mandela’s ‘In His Own Words’ and Mother Teresa’s ‘The Joy In Loving’ have inspired me to do what I have always wanted to do.
How can more and more volunteers across the world contact you to work with iSpiice?
Those interested in volunteering with iSpiice can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.