Buddyfortravel, Super Kids India 2021
Ruchi Singh & Anushree Khowala
Everyone at some point has thought of opening a start-up with their friends. It could be something of your interest or it could be that one bizarre, million-dollar idea on a sleepless college night. These plans often remain just plans. But there are some in the world who come back to it against all odds, and become inspirations to countless other aspirants.
While life may have led them to different places, the zeal to create something was still common among these childhood friends who have started two innovative ventures. Ruchi Singh is the founder of “Buddy”, a travel companion which provides insightful information to travellers and tourists about their destination. Her childhood friend Anushree Khowala is the Creative Head of “Buddy”. She is also the innovator behind “Superkid India 2021”, a month-long event which aims to provide cultural and extra-curricular exposure to the children of online classes.
Here is an excerpt from an interview:
What was the inspiration to start “Buddy”?
Ruchi: When I got married, I relocated to London. I went to so many places like Norway, Iceland, Switzerland etc. But an Indian never loses her/his Indianness. We are always hungry for Indian food. So wherever I went I was searching for an Indian hotel. Usually you can search and get it on Google but in Iceland I did not find a single Indian hotel on it. I was hungry for the whole day until I went back to the hotel where I was staying. The person told me that there is a hotel but it doesn’t show up on Google. This got me thinking. What if someone who visits a new place but doesn’t know anyone there. If you visited London, you would feel that it would have been great if you knew someone here. You would want a friend, a companion. “Buddy” is not your travel agent. You don’t have the obligation to visit the place you inquired about. You can converse with the chatbot about your preferences, in case you just want to explore the architecture at your destination. You can get the necessary information and then plan to travel. It is literally your companion who looks out for you in the new place.
What was the most challenging phase in creating the app?
Ruchi: Being a brown girl in London, that was the biggest challenge. You usually just interact with fellow Indians and there had to be a valid excuse to communicate with non-Indians, like in a job setting. Since I had to just put across my idea, it was extremely tough to find a suitable excuse. And it was necessary for me to share this with the world because I cannot restrict it to the Indian community. So I went to ‘Virgin Startup’ and participated in that. This opened a lot of doors for me and whoever I came across told me that I was very confident and creative. Just because I could talk freely, it gave me an edge. They really appreciated the fact that I was coming out and helping others. Actually that would be my biggest challenge, just coming out of my cocoon and entering the entrepreneur world. And when I did, it was mesmerizing. The journey from ideation to execution was very tough. It took two whole years for the seed of an idea to turn into a plant. An idea is just in your mind. Then you have to write it down and think of logistics. After a filtering process by yourself, you present it to others who will also give in their valuable input. It is a long journey to execution.
Anushree, what is “Superkid India 2021” and how did you come up with such an idea which is presented by “Buddy”?
Anushree: Ruchi and I have a long history as we have been friends since childhood. I am also the Creative Head of “Buddy”. During the lockdown, we were having a group call with all our old friends and most of them were worried about their kids. They were worried about online classes and all of us were of the opinion that brick and mortar schools are not just for education but actually teach children other important life lessons. They provide an experience as a whole which is missing online. Plus they were also getting bored at home. We were discussing this and we came up with “Superkid India” which is a platform for the kids to showcase their talent. The registrations are open now and will close on 31st January. The kids have to send an audition video in the first round where we will select 25 kids. Then they will undergo three more rounds which will have eliminations. There will be ten kids in the final round at the end of which we will declare the three winners. This will span over a period of one month where the participants will get ample time to prepare for their performances. They will receive goodies through our sponsors in each round as well.
Finally, what are your dreams for “Buddy” and “Superkid India 2021”?
Ruchi: With “Buddy”, I want it to reach every corner of the world. I have started it in London and will soon expand to India. Mostly Bihar Tourism. “Superkid India” is a platform for kids to explore their imagination and creativity. I would like to expand on that because it is really necessary. We want to keep it going. Right now it is online but we want it to reach somewhere so that it becomes an actual platform for the kids to perform.
Anushree: “Superkid India” is very different from the usual kids based talent shows. We want it to be an interactive platform for the kids because they might lose out on it in online classes. We would like to promote a complete, holistic experience for the children. Even our sponsors are working towards teaching valuable life lessons. We also want to introduce them to the traditional art forms and cultures of India through our partners. That is the aim for “Superkid India”, to make a platform for kids to discover their imagination as well as our culture.