This article is a part of the series about the special entrepreneurial start-ups that have been built on a social cause but not for a charitable purpose. These are the perfect examples of a mixed economy, the fair blend of the socialist and capitalist economy.
The Turning of a Random Thought into a Vision
Do you sometimes get frustrated with your job and your hectic schedule? Do you sometimes feel as if you are just running in a rat race without a goal?
Almost every one of us feels so at some point of time!
But, what do we do in those moments? We think about lots of things, get even more frustrated, sleep over our thoughts and start the next morning in the usual manner to get back into the rat race. Don’t we?
But, there are few people who react differently to this common situation and hence they earn unique position and get applauds from the general crowd. Upasana Makati is one such name!
She was just a common ambitious girl from Mumbai, who earned a degree in communication from University of Ottawa, Canada, and started her career. She was earning decently but just like most of us she too felt frustrated with her job sometimes. It was one of those frustrated evenings when she was having all sorts of random thoughts in her mind. While counting names of magazines that she could read but does not create a time to read her brain threw a random question – what do blind people read in their leisure time?
Just like any other youth of our time Upasana curiously headed towards Google to search the answer. She was shocked rather than amazed to know that there were no magazines listed in Braille script! It was this shocking revelation that turned a random thought into a vision. Now, Upasana knew what she needed to do to get rid of her frustration.
She started her research on the matter with a visit to the National Association for the Blinds (NAB), Mumbai. As Upasana had no close friends or relatives who were blind, she first needed to get in touch with persons with visual impairment. At this point, she was clear that she is to bring a magazine for the blinds but she was not sure how is she going to do this. Obviously, a structure of charitable organization crossed her mind as she was the part of the society where disability is always paralleled with charity. But, when she started interacting with the blind people in an attempt to know her target audience she knew that the community is now done with the charitable ventures. All the respondents were excited with the idea to get a monthly magazine that they can read themselves. None of them wanted to be treated with pity.
The decision was taken – Upasana will be publishing a monthly Braille English magazine and will launch it as a commercial venture.
Upasana Makati left her job and launched White Print — India’s first monthly magazine printed in Braille English.
The White Print Magazine: Challenges and the Success
Upasana Makati launched the 64-pages lifestyle magazine in Braille with collaboration with National Association for the Blinds (NAB), Mumbai in May 2013. The magazine covers wide area topics related to sports, politics, fashion, culture, technology, short stories, inspiring stories of common persons etc. There’s also a reader’s contribution column to publish write-ups of the readers of White Print. The readers from all over India can subscribe to the magazine which is priced at Rs. 30 per edition.
When you travel a road not traveled by anyone else, you surely have to face the challenges not faced by anyone else yet.
The biggest challenge of White Print was raising funds from advertisements. Till the launch of White Print the advertisement industry was all about pictures and colors and White Print was an entirely white magazine without any picture or color. However, Upasana managed to get sponsored content in the fashion and lifestyle section from Raymonds in the inaugural issue itself.
White Print not only revived the Braille literature but also the Braille advertising. Readers of the magazine were, for first time in their life, understanding the meaning of leisure reading and the advertisers were the first time in their life brainstorming to advertise without pictures and colors. It was Coca-Cola that first came up with the innovative idea. The innovative ad by the Coca-Cola India played the jingle “ummedon wali dhoop, sunshine wali aasha” each time the center spread of the magazine was opened. Yes, the technique was old but it was only used in musical greeting cards… no one thought it to be a way to tap into the wide customer base in the blind community. Now, the magazine gets an ad from almost all the big and popular companies including Vodafone, Tata Groups etc.
After the sponsorship, the next big issue for any magazine is getting the regular content. Upasana did not find much trouble here because she herself had the flair of writing. She wrote most of the contents herself. Later she collaborated with Caravan Magazine for contents and gets the column of the political report written by T.V. Journalist Barkha Dutt.
If you are interested in knowing the technology; Duxberry is used for converting the articles written in English in MS Word to the Braille English.
The By-Product of the White Print Magazine
Excited with the success of her first entrepreneurial venture, White Print, Upasana launched Tactabet in English as well as Hindi. Tactabet i.e. Tactile Alphabet is the book of alphabets designed for blind kids. The English alphabet book printed in the tactile text is priced at 1,000 INR while the Hindi Tactabet comes at 1,800 INR. If a person wishes to gift or donate the books to educate a blind child, the book is sent with a personalized Braille sticker having the donor’s name.
Let’s hope that more entrepreneurs get in the field of quenching the thirst of curious fingers!