Paromita Sengupta (Bengaluru)
HappyInc, a free-of-charge online peer counseling service designed for teenagers to overcome pandemic-induced stress, anxiety and depression, launched last August by Kian Godhwani and Nandini Bhattacharya — class XII students of the high-ranked Lawrence School, Lovedale (Ooty) — was adjudged runner-up in the University of Arizona Studentpreneur Challenge by a panel of professors of the university’s Eller College of Management.
The idea of conceptualising and launching HappyInc occurred to Kian when he began experiencing severe stress and mental imbalance while preparing for the CBSE class X exam. “Although I was among the lucky ones to get treatment, I witnessed many teens in need of help shunning treatment because of high counseling charges or confidentiality issues. HappyInc was ideated to fill this void,” he recalls.
Essentially, HappyInc is an online service through which teenagers can express themselves freely with sympathetic peers who understand and support them without passing judgement. All one needs to do is visit the website (happyinc.in), navigate to the Book a Session page, provide some personal details, and within a few minutes a helper is assigned to her and counseling sessions are conducted on Zoom. Help-seekers have the option to chat with their helpers without revealing their identity. HappyInc’s counselors aka helpers, are teenagers who are put through a three-week training programme, designed in-house by Kian’s father Rakesh Godhwani, a Bengaluru-based professional counselor who runs the School of Meaningful Experiences.
Currently preparing for their class XII CBSE board exams scheduled for May, the duo has ambitious plans for HappyInc’s expansion. “Kian and I will both be proceeding for undergrad education this year studying separate subjects. As our boundaries expand, so will HappyInc. We also plan to start working on developing a user-friendly HappyInc app through which teenagers can not only seek counseling support, but also spread hope and happiness through their stories and hobbies, and make a positive impact on society,” enthuses Nandini.