Name: Lakshmi Sreenivasan
Business: Cafe Counsel
Location: Mumbai, India
Industry: Healthcare, Wellness & Fitness
Reason for starting? Our objective is to provide a platform to listen to all those unheard voices, their emotional pain, traumatic stories, grief, anger, depression and fear. There is a fear of social stigma and lack of acceptance and, when these emotions do not find a release, they leave the person feeling hopeless. The Indian government estimates that 6%-7% of the population suffers from major to minor mental health issues, that’s approximately 70 million Indians. The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that by the year 2020, 20% of India’s population will suffer from mental health issues. India accounts for more suicides than any other country in the world. In fact, India accounts for one third of all total global suicides. Therefore, there is an urgent need to bridge this gap. Our mission is to make mental health accessible in the most convenient way. We also have a long term vision to build a self-sustainable cancer foundation that could extend both financial and emotional aid.
How do you define success? Success is achieved when your life is a living example of inspiration. That your actions encourages and inspire others to look beyond their own microcosm and think and act positively towards humanity and the world at large.
Biggest success: I come from a dysfunctional family. With a tough childhood and an early marriage at 19, I feel my entire journey so far has been a great success. Fighting against all the odds, I completed my MBA in marketing, MA in psychology, and spent 17 years doing enriching work in service, sales, marketing and then HR and consulting. I have never given up despite of all difficulties. I have been a successful professional, a successful mother, wife and now on my journey to create a fulfilling and meaningful enterprise.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? My biggest challenge has been that I am not from an IT background. And Cafe Counsel is a complete technology-based solution. However, I did spend almost 6 months on my research in terms of customer needs, market, competitors etc. I created a blueprint of how the service would be offered. My course in Design Thinking from MIT was a great boon at this stage. All I had to do after that was find a decent IT guy to develop the product. My 17 years of professional experience came in handy in terms of finding a mentor who helped me throughout the product development phase.
Who is your most important role model? There are a few who have inspired me in my journey. Oprah Winfrey is someone who I have always looked up to. I find my journey has been very similar to hers. The other is Malala Yousafzai. If I can be just 1/10th of them, I think it will be a great achievement. I admire their resilience and their determination more than anything else.
Edited by The Story Exchange