The Gram Vaani team shares one idea – ‘junoon’ (meaning ‘passion’, bordering on obsession). We work to create better, more community-relevant technology because we believe it can fundamentally improve social structures.
Gram Vaani was co-founded by Aaditeshwar Seth, Mayank Shivam, and Parminder Singh, in 2008, born out of a Knight News Challenge grant that the team won — we were among the 14 winners out of 3000+ applications to bring about innovations in journalism through technology. The team was shortly joined by Balachandran Chandrasekharan and Zahir Koradia who brought out the first version of GRINS, and soon after by Kapil Dadheech for technology support, Sayonee Chatterjee for programs innovations, Dinesh Kapoor for engineering management, and Aparna Moitra for research. The team worked relentlessly in the space of community media, bringing out one award winning innovation after the other. Right from the groundbreaking radio automation system GRINS, to the full fledged vAutomate IVR stack with several novel applications and a web based administration panel, all of which provided technology solutions to organizations working on social accountability, behavior change in health, urban waste management, grievance redressal, etc.
2012 was a major pivot year for us when we started Mobile Vaani as a community media platform run by us end to end, rather than just providing technology services to other community media and social development organizations. We created own field team for community mobilization, a content team to manage content, and built the novel campaign methodology for behavior change through conversations on the platform. Roshan Nair, Paromita Panjal, Vidya Venkat, Shambhu Mahto, Saraswati Kumari, and so many others were the strong pillars that made the pivot feasible and transformed us from a technology company to a media organization. In 2013, we raised an early stage investment from the Digital News Ventures (Media Development Investment Fund) and the Indian Angel Network, to expand the Mobile Vaani platform and build a business model.
Sultan Ahmad joined our team in 2013 and went on to build the volunteer club model of Mobile Vaani for community mobilization, which is not only unique, but hits the bulls eye as the perfect combination of a social and monetary incentive blockbox that can be scaled again and again.
With exemplary and dedicated team members like Rohit Singh, Ritesh Datta, and Ashish Tandon who built up our partner network; Sangeeta who became a strong pillar for the content team; Lokesh Kumar, Rohit Jain, Vinod Maurya, and Aravindh Raman who built up the technology team; Basanti, Ritu, and others in the moderation team; Amrita, Ashok, and Biswajit from the field team; Veer to manage admin and accounts; and strong partners like CEDPA, PFI, CREA, Sesame, DA, and so many more; we make strong strides in creating new markets and proved several innovative ways in which the Mobile Vaani methodology can boost development. Somewhere in 2014 we crossed the 100 partner mark, with more than 100 organizations across the world having used our platforms.
In 2015, we took another big leap and joined hands with the Life Impacting Services team of OnMobile. The LIS unit was created within OnMobile Global Ltd by Vijay Sai Pratap, and boasted of providing technology services to some of the largest social sector organizations including BMGF, BBC Media Action, and the Government of Karnataka, among others. The Gram Vaani team and the LIS team came together to create OnionDev, a bigger and better version of everything we had done so far, to create what is now a powerhouse team of over 50 members spread across Delhi, Bangalore, Ranchi, and field teams in Bihar, MP, and Jharkhand. The engineering team gained a strong leader in Rachit Pandey, the programs team gained another soldier in Rohit Sharma, the technology team expanded with teammates including Kamesh, Vishnu, Sanal, Tahsin, Prashant, Brejesh, Dibyendu, Asad Ahmad, and Rohit Shukla, the content team expanded with Dinesh and Suresh; Asha joined for HR; and a large field team in Bihar; and that’s what brings us to today.
We want to remove the word “media dark” from the face of the Earth. We want to write history of having created a novel medium that actually leads to change. We want to see a better India and a better world, that uses technology appropriately (as Santosh said) to help us reflect and form our own conclusions and act accordingly, which we are sure will bring for everybody peace and clarity to move the world forward.
Co-founder and Director
Aaditeshwar is the co-founder and Director of Gram Vaani. He also teaches computer science at IIT Delhi where he advises a fantastic team of students. Aaditeshwar is passionate about building technology for social development that actually leads to impact. He also loves to do other stuff including hiking and soccer, but these days it is just Gram Vaani. He has taken temporary leave from IIT to focus on building Gram Vaani into a strong company.
Vijay Sai Pratap
CEO and Co-founder of OnionDev
Vijay is pained by the fact that not many Mobile or ICT based initiatives for development around the world have been able to scale significantly or achieve sustainability. Vijay built and led the LIS unit at OnMobile as Director-BD, having over 13 years’ experience in the Telecom and VAS industry, an Electronics and Communication Engineering graduate (Univ. of Madras), MBA (SSSIHL) and an MBL (NLSIU), he believes it’s time to make it happen and now!!
VP for Technology and Architecture
Rachit is convinced that we are on the verge of creating something large and significant that can impact millions of lives positively, using technology interventions. He has a rich experience of over 13 years in Telecom RnD and delivery teams. A BTech degree from IIT Kanpur, is adept at using his analytical skills to build simple and effective solutions for complex problems
Director for Programs
Rohit having left the corporate world to work in the development sector for over a decade now, brings forth an amazing understanding of the target user needs. Has been developing the most innovative social media platforms for a diverse set of partners, enabling the first generation mobile users across regions to access information and share stories. An MBA from NMIMS and a Certified CSR Assessor by URS Worldwide (USA).
Director for Programs
Rohit believes that sustainability is the key to success and that our combined strength now has the ability to make some real impact on the ground. He is a seasoned professional with over 11+ years of commendable success in the telecom VAS and networking domains across the sales & business development functions.
Program Innovations Manager
Sayonee is a strong believer in equality, and feels that disparities in our society can only be addressed with sustained positive and proactive participation in the process of development. Working with the content team to help produce simple but innovative content to engage callers on social issues. A Masters in Sociology from the Univ. of Pune, she worked as a grass-root development professional with PRADAN and PRIA on training and advocacy across various issues.
National Coordinator for Community Mobilization
Sultan has a keen interest in community driven institution building, capacity building, communication design, outreach and partnerships. He heads the field operations and outreach team. With over 10 years’ experience in this space, he helps build and train a strong field team of hundreds of community reporters and volunteers. A Masters in development communication and M.A in Social Exclusion & Inclusive Policy from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Manager for Technology Operations
Kapil is OnionDev’s resident tech superman, overseeing the over 50 deployments of GRINS and 70+ voice deployments all over India, he brings to the team a much needed realism whether it is about managing telecom operator relationships or training IT un-savvy users in using technology. He is an avid traveler (apart from the 10,000+ km travel he has done for Gram Vaani) and counting.