Sayan Sarkar is the CEO of InvigorateNOW, a social business company that sells supplements in order to donate money ($15 from each bottle) to a charity that performs surgery to save the eyesight of those in need.
Here, Sayan Sarkar shares his story, inspiration and creative rituals with SocialBusiness.org.
Four Questions with Sayan Sarkar
1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
The business model came from a variety of things, fundamentally including a very 'people-based' upbringing (a few examples -- my father has worked in non-profits all his life, my mother is a school teacher, and especially in trips to visit family in India I was instilled with values to give back to others who were much less fortunate). I continued building this with volunteering throughout high school and college by participating in Relay for Life, helping with THON (48-hour no-sitting marathon for pediatric cancer), City Year and more.
When the initial health business started forming, I initially planned to just give back philanthropically after years of company success. But a pivotal conversation with a friend looking into a Public Health Master's (she alerted me to the devastation caused by Neglected Tropical Diseases such as trachoma) and the understanding of the TOMS one for one model made me change course completely -- I decided my company would indeed give back from the start, and that we make a significant contribution to really have a tangible effect on the lives of others.
2. How did you decide to join this sector?
I decided to join the social business sector primarily because I understood that this was quite possibly the best way to create results in support of social causes. I say this because business by itself, in most cases, only serves to stuff the coffers of the company doing the selling; and charity by itself is well-intentioned but oftentimes falls shorts due to lack of stirring up donor contributions, grants, etc. With social business, we combine the best of both words -- as long as a business provides a quality product and good service to customers they can bring in consistent revenue, and then a portion of this can be put toward charitable efforts. In this case, unless a business fails to deliver to its customers, there will essentially be no lapse in funding for its charitable initiatives. It is truly a win-win situation.
3. How do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from a consistent desire to improve myself, and therefore improve the world around me. "Be the change you want to see in the world," said Gandhi. It started with my personal health/life transformation, in which I lost 55 pounds in slightly over a year by really teaching myself what it meant to be healthy (for me, it meant making a permanent lifestyle commitment to health instead of a short-term diet change). After seeing a change in myself that I had often given up on in the past, I passionately felt that I should do what is in my power to inspire others to make healthy lifestyle decisions for both themselves and others. This desire to spread my experience and hope to others on a personal basis was a perfect fit with my wishes to help others on a charitable basis. With my social business now in full swing, I am consistently inspired by a) how much help is needed in the world and b) seeing millions of people so motivated for social change -- when these two are combined, I know that by working to harness the 'good' in each person, we can all come together and make enormous change. This has been very evident the past few decades with social entrepreneurship making its way to the forefront, and I believe it will continue on to be an even stronger force in the years to come.
4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
When I feel good and calm mentally (that is, NOT hopped up on a 5-hour energy), I am able to better tap into my creative potential. For me this is directly related to health -- I do my best to feed my body correctly by giving myself quality foods in correct quantities. I workout religiously 4 to 5+ times per week and lift heavy in the gym to really feel energized and 'awake'. I try (although sometimes fail) to meditate for anywhere between 5-20 minutes a day. I make sure I walk at least 15 minutes a day and just enjoy the fresh air around me. And lastly, I spend time on weekends getting dinner with friends or just having some fun. When my life is filled and when I am happy mentally, my creative juices are guaranteed to flow.