I am Raghav, an incoming 11th grade student of Sri Kumaran Children’s Home, Bangalore. I started an initiative called City Idols in my 9th Grade. In this article, I describe my journey as a young entrepreneur.

When we used to travel as a family, my mother used to insist that I read Kannada sign boards on the roads. Grudgingly, while doing this I began observing that many of the roads, parks, circles, junctions and flyovers in Bangalore were actually named after people.

So, I went back home and tried searching for information on a few of these people on the internet. And, astonishingly, I learned that the internet had very little, almost nothing on most of them. Of course, there were roads named after prominent personalities such as D.V. Gundappa, Kasturba Gandhi, but where was the information on Omer Sheriff and Lakshman Rao? And, therefore seeing this gap, I began my City Idols journey.

So at this stage, I had figured out a potential idea, however I was clueless about how to proceed.

And then, I met with my school principal Ms. Deepa Sridhar, and spoke to her about City Idols and my vision for it. She was encouraging of the idea, and told me to speak about this with Ms. Jayanthi Sridhar our ICT teacher. And what followed after this… was the birth of City Idols!

Soon, with the cooperation of my school and the unwavering encouragement of Jayanthi ma’am, we conducted an event called the Kumaran City Idols Challenge at our school. Interested students registered for an orientation programme upon paying a nominal fee of Rs. 100. The session was delivered by Prof. Sharmadip Basu and Prof. Chandan Gowda, with the aim of equipping students with several tools for researching people after whom roads/ parks are named.

Students then had three weeks to research and write an article about a “City Idol”. On the last day preceding the deadline for submissions, we received 26 entries out of the total 60 students who attended the orientation session. Well, I’ve got to say – I felt that was a pretty good start.

Also, at around the same time we were able to secure a partnership with an ‘I Change My City (an initiative of Janaagraha). They agreed to post a few of the better articles we received from students. And at this point of time, I got an exciting opportunity to write an article about City Idols for an online news portal called The Better India.

Once we had compiled all the entries, published them on our online platform, and followed up with the contributing students, things began to fall into place. I created a new website, posted a few articles, I Change My City carried some of them on their website. But, now came the question – What do we do next?

Eventually, I kind of realised that City Idols would need a rapid outreach programme in order to facilitate its expansion. But before I go further I must also say, that in the meanwhile, I was constantly speaking to various people about City Idols, receiving their inputs and developing a wide network of mentors and friends.

At this time, as a complete accident, Mr. Yashveer Singh of Ashoka India happened to chance upon my article on City Idols which was published on The Better India. He then got in touch with me and informed me of the Youth Venture Programme at Ashoka. The programme has a competitive process to select young entrepreneurs working on social initiatives. After two rounds of selection, I was extremely delighted to know that I had been selected as an Ashoka Youth Venturer.