Hi everyone, I’m Spiffy, the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making a difference on climate change. Today it is my pleasure to be talking to Pratik Gauri from 5th Element Group.
Spiffy: Welcome Pratik! I’m very curious to hear about what challenges you’re addressing.
Pratik: Thanks, Spiffy, it’s great to be here. So, I’m trying to address two big challenges. The first challenge is to solve social problems – including water, health, climate and education – using frontier technology. The second challenge is to debunk the myth that profit and purpose can’t co-exist.
Spiffy: Those are huge challenges. How in the world are you going to do that?
Pratik: They are! 5th Element Group is creating global partnerships to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), connecting performance with purpose. We create “omniwin” solutions between brands, social entrepreneurs, government, and “ultra high net worth” (UHNW) people and celebrities, to mobilize millions of dollars for social causes.
Spiffy: Those are definitely partnerships and connections you don’t see everyday. What motivated you to do this?
Pratik: Well, Spiffy, two things really motivated me. I grew up in Delhi, India, one of the most polluted cities in the world, and as a result, I had a persistent cough. In addition, I became aware of the social problems people faced, like lack of education, lack of clean water and sanitation, and unequal access to healthcare. I was determined to solve the social problems around me – to lift up millions of people – by building sustainable business models. So, I started my first company at the age of 16 and since then, I’ve founded eight companies in the social impact space.
Spiffy: EIGHT!? In only 13 years? Wow, Pratik, you’re a busy man! Do you have any intentions to slow down?
Pratik: Not at all! Right now I am creating the 5th Industrial Revolution.
Spiffy: We’re ready to move beyond the 4th Industrial Revolution? What will this next revolution do?
Pratik: Great question, Spiffy! Our goal is to bend the focus of technology back towards humanity. We are doing this by bringing people from diverse sectors together and running large-scale activations to achieve gender equality and improve access to education, clean water, renewables, and climate justice. We help Fortune 500 brands go from for-profit to for-benefit, and we work with brands to amplify their “brand warmth” by unlocking dollars for social causes using UN SDG-friendly language.
Spiffy: You definitely have your hands full. I guess we do need to move at light speed for the sake of Planet Earth! Are there any other projects happening right now that you’re particularly proud of?
Pratik: We have had several exciting things happening, Spiffy! At 5th Element Group, we helped create a widely watched show, Some Good News, by John Krasinksi. Through this, we have helped mobilise millions of dollars for enterprises working to achieve the UN SDGs. We also just partnered with WinTogether to launch a charitable sweepstakes platform to raise funds to plant 100 million trees by 2022. We’ve actually incentivised donors with a Tesla Cybertruck grand prize! And we took (Harpic News 18) Mission Paani, a water conservation program by RB India, to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Pratik Gauri moderating a Mission Paani conversation with fellow Global Shapers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo courtesy of Pratik Gauri)
Spiffy: Pratik, your level of work and success is astounding. I’m curious, have you ever experienced failure?
Pratik: I have, Spiffy! I started my first company (in the education space) at the age of 16. Our idea and business model was cool, but we weren't able to scale our operations to achieve economies of scale. So we had to shut down after two years.
Spiffy: How did you rebound from that?
Pratik: I immediately started my second company, applied the learnings from my first company, and we did really well.
Spiffy: What did you learn?
Pratik: Well Spiffy, I learned two very important lessons which I often share with others. The first lesson is that startups might fail but entrepreneurs never fail. And the second lesson is that one should never give up – if you believe in yourself, the world will believe in you.
Spiffy: Those are so true. Your failures and successes have certainly taught you important lessons! What kind of teachers are you learning from today?
Pratik: My niece, who is eight-years-old, listens to everything – very carefully and with enthusiasm. She is ready to learn something new everyday, even if she already knows something about a topic. I’ve learned two things from her: 1) innovation – in business and life in general – requires the ability to unlearn and relearn, and 2) effective listening is a very important skill to have.
Spiffy: It certainly is Pratik! I’ve learned a lot from you today. Best wishes on all your future endeavors. It’s been an honor!
Pratik Gauri is a social entrepreneur and investor, creating the 5th Industrial Revolution. He serves as the India President of the 5th Element Group and sits on the board of six purpose-startups. He is a Greenbiz 30 Under 30 and was named the 2020 Creative Entrepreneur of the Year - Start Up by Entrepreneur magazine. (Nominated by One Young World)