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Happiness in the eyes of my customer is what drives my business ahead, says Karthik Shastri, a 25 year old young entrepreneur pursuing his II year Master of Social Entrepreneurship at Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship.  At 25, he is proud of his initiative “Farm to Fork” which he launched with his friend, Kedar Kulkarni. Born and brought up in the financial capital of India, Aamchi Mumbai, Shastri, is a delight to talk to as he passionately explains his ideas, dreams and plans. Shastri has a bachelor’s degree in business management.

Shastri , born and brought up in  Mumbai and launched a venture that aims at helping farming community! Interesting isn't it? When asked about this, Shastri says, “Since my undergrad days, I have been hearing a lot about the plight of farmers in getting a fair price for their produce and read about their suicides. That’s when I decided to do something about connecting farmers and customers. It’s not that I’ doing it for philanthropy, as an entrepreneur, I see an opportunity to link farmers' produce to the need of customers.”

 (Karthik Shastri in conversation with Dr. Gururaj Deshpande and Mrs. Jaishree  Deshpande, Founders and Mentors, Deshpande Foundation)
Most people wonder why I came all the way from Mumbai to Hubli. I would say, it’s been one of my best decisions, as my college, Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship, gave me umpteen opportunities to connect with entrepreneurs from all over the world. The course is flexible as it allows each student to pursue his/her interest. I have one friend who is exploring e-waste management and another one into producing CFL bulbs. In short, my journey from Mumbai to Chota Mumbai (Hubli) is proving to be fruitful”, says Shastri. 

When asked about his business model, Shastri is full of enthusiasm. “Farm to Fork tries to establish a continuous link between customers and farmers. Most farmers, usually, are exploited by the middlemen. I want to reduce the role of middlemen as much as possible. I follow an 80-20 model: 80% concentrating on commercial establishments like hotel, restaurants and street vendors to have a consistent demand for the produce and 20% concentrating on domestic demand. 

Talking about his current studies (MSE),  Shastri says, “The course gave me wings to fly. Be it the subjects or the huge network of entrepreneurs or the expert speakers’ session, MSE gave me practical insights of being an entrepreneur. Subjects like Agribusiness, Economics and Logical Frame Analysis furthered my understanding of business. We even had a speaker flying in from Belgium to train us on Elevator Pitch and Public Speaking, what more could a student ask for?”

Speaking about his future plans, Shastri says, “Plans are big and so is the passion! my partner Kedar and I are still exploring surrounding areas and trying to understand the dynamic world of farmers. As of now, our aim is to establish a strong link between farmers and customer needs. In the long run, our intention is to develop a farmer cooperative movement where farmers earn the most out of their produce.”

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny” and Shastri says, happiness in the eyes of his clients' [read farmers] is what his destiny is. 

As a teacher I find immense pleasure to be a part of students' journey from Good to Great! Being a part of this institute is giving a lot of such proud moments. Writing about  my student's entrepreneurial venture has truly been overwhelming!The author works at Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship as an Asst Professor. He is also a part of the Resources and Research Team. To know more about the course, click here. You can congratulate the student by sharing this with your friends and family and/or leaving a comment below!


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