The Heart of a Volunteer


In the words of Lt.General Jimmy DooLittle, as captured brilliantly on screen in the movie ‘Pearl Harbour’, “There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer”. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, the Americans planned a raid on Tokyo, but they were short on experienced pilots with combat experience and had to rely on rookies who volunteered for the mission. DooLittle’s quote boosted the morale of these volunteers  and the rest is history.

On the 14th of May, Headstart Network Foundation is organizing their 100th edition of Startup Saturday in Bangalore. Headstart network is a non-profit organisation committed to promoting entrepreneurship and enabling the national startup ecosystem in India, completely staffed only by a network of volunteers, who varied from Students to Professionals and Entrepreneurs to Mentors. It has been eight years since its inception, and these volunteers have selflessly dedicated their time and effort, towards the cause of Headstart and made it their own.

What drives these volunteers? Lakshmi Narayanan, a volunteer at Headstart believes, “Volunteering is the strongest bond. When you volunteer, it means you are doing something you truly believe in”. What it means is, when you truly believe in something, you work hard for it, and when you work hard for a selfless purpose, it brings out the best in you. Amit Singh, co-founder of Headstart Network says, “At Headstart, the ethos has always been ‘Pay it Forward'”. The volunteers do not question what’s in it for them. Whatever they know, learn or have, they ‘pay it forward’ by giving back to the community. Pulling off 100 events hasn’t been an easy task. An organisation which is run by volunteers, is only as strong as their weakest volunteer. For Headstarters, it is not just about working together and coming up with an amazing event, it is also about mentoring, supporting and complimenting their fellow volunteers.

Over the years many volunteers have contributed towards Headstart. There has always been fresh blood and variety in thought leadership because of this churn. Each of these volunteers have contributed in making Headstart what it is today and they all have a piece of Headstart ethos in them, irrespective of how long they volunteered. These volunteers are no different than the pilots in DooLittle’s crew during the Tokyo raid. At a time when the word “Startup” meant little , when entrepreneurship was looked down upon as a joke, these volunteers stood up and took it upon themselves to educate and evangelize Entrepreneurship . Today the terms “Startup” and “Entrepreneurship” have taken the nation by storm. And just like the pilots in that raid, these volunteers will remain nameless and far away from the limelight, but what they do helps in making history.

Written by: Arvind Subramaniam
Edited by: Monica Movva