Emerging Entrepreneurs

Pooling people’s money to solve real problems

| Updated on July 23, 2018 Published on July 23, 2018

Chetan Jain, CEO and Founder, Crowdera

Crowdera insists it is not another money-raising start-up

Getting that magical quality — grit — was an added bonus. For a single-child raised by a single-mother, Chetan Jain had witnessed life’s many upsets. Losing a father at a young age, seeing his widowed mother struggle to put food on the table for several years afterwards, life showed its ugly side.

But beyond the struggle he saw the beauty and the strength that emerges from the impediments, and the many failures. That strengthened his resolve, and toughened his moral fibre.

“A sprint can give you tactical success, but could lead to strategic failures. Running a marathon can instead give you enough stamina to run for life. The foundation blocks had been set early in life,” said Chetan, who started his entrepreneurial journey at 19, at the same age when his mother was left to fend for herself.

Despite the financial crunch of his early years in Nagpur, where he was born and brought up, one stark memory remains. “My mother used to work for a publication house, and had access to textbooks and digests. She used to buy them cheap and give them to people who needed them,” he said. It was an observation that would help him later.

Today, Chetan Jain is a serial entrepreneur. As founder of Crowdera, a crowd-funding platform for social good, he wants to spread his belief in the power of giving to create abundance all around.

With over 100 campaigns, Crowdera’s beta launches in the US and India helped raise over $675,000 (in 2016) with donors from over 35 countries. The platform provides a framework for non-profits and social innovators and says it has raised over half a billion dollars so far. It recently secured an undisclosed amount as part of pre-Series A funding round.

Keen to build best practices in fund-raising, Chetan is on another marathon, helping several causes.

Growing up years

During his first year of engineering, Chetan made enough money by copying and selling his workshop journals, to pay for his second year’s tuition. Selling an assembled Celeron computer, was another huge learning. Not the clean profit of ₹9,000 that he made, but the fact that “customer service is something one should never forget.”

Chetan’s marathon was on and the high needed to be duplicated.

In 1997, Chetan had started with college journals and by 2003 had 160 people working with him. “I had dabbled with four different ventures, and was hiring people to code software. I had enough money and could even travel business class,” he said.

 

 

But something was missing. “I was losing some of my core values. Only money could trigger me. What took six years to build, took six months to tank,” he said.

Innate philosophy

Religion played a big role in Chetan’s life, but the teachings of Jainism ingrained in him continued to have a mighty battle with his ego, despite the reset.

By this time, another bug had bit him. “I wanted to be an actor, move to the West and make a name for myself. It was an inner calling,” said Chetan, who moved to Hyderabad with ₹1,400 in his pocket.

It was here that Chetan started his charitable drives. “I was part of an AP entrepreneurial chapter involved in helping people with what they needed, not what they wanted,” said Chetan.

By this time, Chetan had become a different person, more stable and more mature. “I was working with a real estate broker to make ends meet. Then Telangana happened. From a few lakh, we were suddenly handling ₹100-200 crore deals,” said Chetan.

Reality struck home again. “I did not want to get into the rat race. I wanted out, and decided to move to the US,” he said.

US journey

From “mentoring IT people sitting on the bench,” to an employee of 10 days at the Sunlight Financials Insurance company, Chetan worked his way through Xerox at Memphis, to finally land an opportunity in California.

That was where the crowd-funding journey started. From giving loans to underprivileged people, to helping crowd-fund health issues, the fund-raising platform had taken seed.

Founded in 2014 by Chai Atreya and Chetan Jain, Crowdera is a cloud-based fund-raising platform. Chetan is clear:

“This is not just another start-up to raise money. It has to really solve a problem. Plus we will never monetise on commissions.”

Keen to establish Crowdera as a dominant player in social good crowd-funding and non-profit fund-raising space, the marathon continues for Chetan, who says self-confidence is about conquering the beast. Bottle the self-confidence you have after finishing a marathon and sell it: you are a billionaire.

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Published on July 23, 2018
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