It is not everyday you hear about young children questioning the status quo, revolutionizing the automobile industry, or filing for patents at age 13. But they’re out there, and this is the story of one. Today, Param Jaggi is a 23-year-old entrepreneur and social activist. He is the founder of Hatch, a simple and user-friendly app creation company. But to get here, his changemaker journey started when he was a teenager.
Since growing up in Plano, Texas, Param was infatuated with technology. He filled his free time with taking electronics apart, exploring their construction, and rebuilding them. At just 13 years of age, he created EcoTube, an automobile attachment that reduces the carbon emissions from car exhaust. Unsatiated with discovery and innovation, Param continued his exploration in the automobile industry and sustainable development sector.
For Param, these afternoon activities were just fun ways to spend his time. He didn’t start to understand the potential of his knowledge until professors and professionals in the industry began reaching out to him and offering advice and guidance. The tangible support and communication coming from the ‘adult world’ was a turning point in his Changemaker journey. Param states that this “positive affirmation” is what helped him understand the power he had to dream, lead, and take action. He then truly began to internalize that “the things I can build and create can do social good.” This realization inspired him to compete in science fairs, apply and win in a variety of competitions, and begin studying Mechanical Engineering and Economics at Vanderbilt University.
As a freshman at Vanderbilt University, Param was selected as a finalist for Ashoka Youth Venture’s event Banking on Youth. Across the country, six finalists were chosen to attend a national conference in Washington, D.C. where their ideas were pitched to Ashoka Fellows and community members. “I remember that moment specifically, sitting with and listening to Bill Drayton, [CEO of Ashoka], someone I really looked up to, because that whole moment reinforced to me that more people are out there doing what I’m doing”. Param reflects that sharing his passion and innovation to a room of adults was perplexing because it was a unique experience of adults actually listening to, and not stepping on, his ideas.
Even though Param did not win the event that day, the opportunity propelled his career forward. He received a $1,000 seed grant from Ashoka’s Youth Venture to continue his efforts which he remembers really got him on his feet. “Before, I was just going to Home Depot with my own money, but the grant funding really got me going”.
What also fueled Param to keep leading and innovating were the connections and friendships made with like-minded changemakers. The six finalists from the Youth Venture event were chosen because of similar entrepreneurial instincts related to empathy, leadership, teamwork, and creative-problem solving. Connectedness, and creatively collaboration with others remain essential components for discovering a dream, forming a team, and leading positive change that serves the many, not the few. In order for communities to thrive, today’s world of constant change and disruption demands the cultivation of young leaders and collaborators who master empathy and changemaking early in life. Param recounts that he still keeps in touch with the other finalists, and that a changemaker community like this truly reinforces that he “was not alone”.
After two and a half more years, Param decided to leave college and explore the world by his own means. He explained that “I was already spending 90% of my time outside of the classroom learning and building,” and yearned to explore areas of the world he had never been to. After a few months of traveling, exploring his passions, Param started his next big project. Param is now the CEO of Hatch, an easily accessible program that is building online applications without coding.
Using mobile technology is critical in supporting the scaling of changemaker ideas and innovations in today’s digitized world. But not all changemakers and innovators are experts at mobile tech or app development, which means there are tech barriers limiting the world from connecting with great ideas and solutions. To address this, Hatch democratizes technology by removing the barrier to app and website creation for socially driven organizations and aspiring changemakers.
Through his model, Param is leveraging technology to serve and empower the many, and not the few. Alongside being the CEO of his own company and sitting on several advisory boards, Param still finds time to mentor, educate, and inspire young changemakers to follow their dreams by connecting a passion with a problem, and being resilient in their changemaker pursuits. “I want them to realize that they are not alone” and that “if you want to do something different, you have to have grit because you are going against the grain.”
To learn more about Param’s work and journey, write to him here.
Ways to engage further:
- Read more about Param’s journey. Param, in his own words, shares with Youth Venture how he overcame fear and doubt to unleash his inner changemaker to the world
- Share your #LeadYoung changemaker story with Ashoka’s Youth Venture, and we may publish it!
- Engage with Ashoka’s Youth Venture team and #LeadYoung to explore ways for you, your school, or company to integrate changemaker skills and culture into your community!