SHIMLA: Breaking free from the shackles of a mindset that had nearly veiled the Himachali youth behind lofty mountains they have lived with, a youngster from Shimla has proved that there is no dearth of opportunities within the state. Rishabh Sood, a first-generation entrepreneur, has in fact gone a step ahead and shown that Himachal can breed innovation.
Soul Voyages is that kind of an initiative, perhaps the first of its kind in the world. As per its ‘innovator’, it is a way to celebrate the lives of people who have loved and inspired us.
The enterprise is all about celebrating life. Well, confused?
Soul Voyages with its World Wide Web presence as www.soulvoyages.com is offering four different sets of services right now. “In our modern world, most people find themselves going further from their family and friends due to their professional pursuits. It is quite common these days to have a family with its members settled in different states or countries. Soul Voyages is a service being provided to such people to celebrate the lives of people who have loved and inspired them,” says Sood.
At soulvoyages.com you can store your letters, audio-video messages and pictures and even your last words for the people you love. Yes, your last message! Now how can someone think of such a weird thing?
“It is a taboo to think about death, more so – mention and discuss it openly. It is rarely mentioned amongst friends and family, a reality we try to escape from. Since we don’t talk about it much, we don’t think about devoting some time for preparing for this inescapable reality,” Sood clarifies. But the venture is not just about exploiting the sentimentality associated with relations. “We also offer services like a portrait corner to celebrate the people who are amongst us and inspire us everyday in our lives,” he says.
A resident of Shimla. Sood had his schooling from St Edward’s and Bishop Cotton School (BCS) before doing MBA from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, New Delhi. After returning to Shimla, he worked with Oberoi Hotels and Resorts for two-and-a-half years.
“Soul Voyages was an idea, a dream, I envisioned while doing my MBA five years back. I started work on Soul Voyages in Feb 2006. It has been operational since September 1, 2006. To add a cliché – we are a young firm with plentiful of ideas and are moving towards our bigger goals,” he says.
Knowing that it is not a conventional kind of a venture, Sood is ready to face unforeseen challenges. “As for the subscriptions part, it has been only two months since the service started. I only have just few subscriptions as of now, and just one from Himachal. The services I am selling will take time, as all are almost paid services. I don’t plan to advertise or market through the paid channels – so it is going to be difficult to reach the target market in the beginning. I am certain of a good response in the next 2-3 months,” he says.
As far target clients are concerned, Soul Voyages is open for everyone above the age of 18, from any country. “However, we are targeting people above the age of 35, who are mature and settled in life, and can see the benefits of our services,” Sood says.
But that’s not all. Anything to do with Himachal cannot be complete without some real adventure. So Sood also plans to offer detailed holiday itinerary in Himachal and its surrounding regions though his company. “Soul Voyages and all the members associated have been exposed to professional outdoor activities. We find ourselves constantly offering the beauty of our state to our clients domestic and international. Our partners for this service have been involved in tourism activities in our state and have a wide range of experience in providing a consistent quality of service,” he reveals. Now that’s something that for sure will catch the fancy of those desiring to visit Himachal.
For those who still believe that the state has nothing much to offer, Sood has this simple adage, “Opportunities are created, not waited for.”
The voyage has just begun for Sood and he will no doubt end a happy traveller. What about you? Start before it is too late!