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Work as a means for inspired rebellion

When I asked my friend what he planned to do after he passed his Charted Accountancy (CA) exams last year, he looked at me bewildered. Obviously, it was time to make the ‘big bucks.’His self-assured demeanor while he said this unsettled me since I knew 90% of the world would say the same thing if they were in his shoes. And I wondered why I didn’t feel the same.

In your 20s, it seems like life hits the 2x button, and a sense of urgency to prove yourself builds up. This translates into accumulating material wealth and riches in modern society, especially in Dubai, where I grew up. This cultural aspiration was uninspiring to me. Would I be proud of myself if someone asked me when I was 80 what my motivation for life was, and I said it was to make a boatload of money? How bizarre would it sound if an Einstein or a Vivekananda replied with the same answer to their life’s calling?

It’s not that money was unimportant to me; it just wasn’t my primary motivator. It seemed wasteful to sacrifice my creativity and passion for being on a hedonistic treadmill. Building a city from scratch in the desert is commendable, but Dubai’s culture of conspicuous consumption was suffocating to me personally — everything around me seemed inauthentic, soulless even. While it was clear that a lifestyle purely driven by materialistic pursuits wasn’t for me, I knew the life of an armchair philosopher was not for me either. I wanted to do something. Not just talk about change but also help envision and BUILD an alternative world better aligned with my values.

I was fresh out of college and in limbo as I figured out my next move. Watching my friends receive plush corporate job offers pricked me, but climbing the corporate ladder did not entice me either. I was not averse to intense work, but if the motivations for an organisation’s existence were skin deep (just accumulating money), I did not want to be a part of it.

Time was ticking, and I had to decide. I succumbed to the thought of being left behind and half-heartedly applied for a job as a copywriter at ToysRus. I was pleased to receive a letter of rejection two weeks later. The HR department was looking for someone who would toe the company line and considered my views too radical for the job after I cheekily suggested they discard all the plastic toys in their collection.

As I mulled over my options, I received a serendipitous message on a university WhatsApp group about a company called build3 based out of Goa. As I looked through their website, a smile grew on my face. Finally, I found what I was looking for; a company that actually gave a f*** about its people and the environment. Their idealistic zeal was tempered with tangible action, a premier example of philosophy in action. Their website did not feature greenwashed nonsense that companies used to score brownie points with a ‘woke’ generation. Whoever wrote the content for the website was dissatisfied with the status quo and wanted to use their business acumen to usher in a new way of living in the world. After all, how many companies combined business pragmatism with conversations on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and what truly makes us happy as people? This company was visionary; I felt it in my bones. I applied right away and was accepted into the fold.

Build3 Villa
The office ;), a beautiful villa by the beach

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At build3, my colleagues and I help build the next wave of impact focussed startups. We work closely with founders who better the mind, body, or planet through their businesses. The founders we work with closely are establishing an organic coffee brand that increases farmer incomes, building an e-commerce platform for sustainable consumption, and growing the number of community-led co-working and co-living spaces, among other businesses.

build3 was created as an antidote to the mainstream growth-at-any-cost model. We clubbed together people who are passionate and formidable at building scalable businesses with a focus on supporting and building the next generation of impact startups. We aim to build a future where minimalism, sustainability, wellness, personal and spiritual development, self-reliance, wealth distribution, and community living are the norm.

As venture builders, we get into the trenches with our founders and help them take their idea to scale. We also provide capital (up to INR 100 million of startup capital and a robust network of value-aligned investors) and a community supporting founders with mentorship and business requests. Think of us as experienced Sherpas accompanying founders on their entrepreneurial journey; we help carry the load, navigate the treacherous entrepreneurial terrain with our founders, and celebrate when our founders reach the summit.

Build3 Team having Lunch
Some of the team :)

While all of this reads well, is it really possible to blend profit and purpose as build3 claims? Or is all of this just a fanciful experiment? The impact sector is rife with hypocrisy and deceit, so what prevents build3 from following suit?

It’s quite easy for hypocrisy to slip through the cracks, especially in an endeavor that purports to be socially conscious like ours. One of my friends in Goa astutely remarked that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intention.’ build3 is not immune to this.

We aim to be unabashedly honest about build3’s journey through the articles that each team member writes. Similar to Gandhi’s “Experiment with Truth,” we aim to highlight the challenges and learnings we faced along the way in our journal. We call this segment the “voices of build3” and hope it evolves into an honest account of smart people trying to bring about positive change the best way they see possible. Through the “voices of build3”, we hope to attract like-minded folks who want to tag along on our journey. The articles will also be especially useful for people seeking to marry social responsibility with tangible action.

We are excited to bring you along on our journey 🙂

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