Advocating for equal education opportunities for all through her startup, Madhavi Shankar is a 29-year-old entrepreneur and CEO of SpaceBasic – an interactive social networking platform that is dedicated to sort housing hurdles and safety issues for students. To help students address the challenges they often face when they are studying away from homes, Shankar co-founded SpaceBasic with her two partners, Indu Navar and Aiden Bingham.
The platform addresses critical problems like student safety checks, digital data management, open and improved communication channels between all stakeholders within student housing communities in schools and colleges. According to Shankar, the goal of the startup is to digitally serve the housing needs of students and provide them with employment opportunities by connecting them with global companies that want to engage with students.
“The idea to form SpaceBasic emerged after we experienced the painstaking process of manually processing the student housing and hostel management costs, which often creates very costly errors and added wastage”, says Madhavi. For example, the lack of a proper mechanism creates student safety issues and parents being out of the loop. It also promotes food wastage because the mess-staff have no idea as to how many students are coming for food.
To put simply, for something as simple as a leave application, the students were first required to file an application and get it signed by warden (and if the warden calls to the parents to confirm the same, it could be a “frame-up” which can risk the student’s safety). In some cases, the students require the head of departments (HODs) signature, which means that the student will have to meet the HOD to get his signature and then finally on the day of leaving will need a security clearance.
But with SpaceBasic, it has become an end-to-end automated process. A process that on an average takes a day, can now be easily done in 2-3 minutes. Besides this, the platform is also involved in creating equal opportunities for underprivileged students. The platform is working with companies in India and the US to give students in the rural or tier 2 colleges the access to jobs or skill enhancing opportunities.
These companies reach out to students for skill development training, jobs and other such programmes. Shankar says, “With our platform, students from rural and tribal backgrounds have the same opportunities as that of students from privileged colleges.” She has also been invited as a speaker for the UN’s One Million Global Youth Leaders for Sustainable Development programmes launched in Geneva.
“I had the honour to speak about my company SpaceBasic at the United Nations, Geneva as one of the 9 youth entrepreneur speakers from around the world. We were also engaged in a panel discussion. As a youth leader, I aim to actively contribute to the mission of 1M2030 – to build a global movement of one million global youth leaders for sustainable development to carry the 17 SDGs to 2030 and beyond,” she tells us.