By: Kathleen Pointer
Ranjeet Vidwans will readily admit he’s not quite the same as the rest of the Tulalens board. He doesn’t come from a background working with nonprofits and development.
But that’s his strength. He complements the expertise of the other members with his knowledge of startups and for-profit tech companies.
Ranjeet, who was born in India but moved to the U.S. when he was “not quite 10,” studied computer science at Rutgers University. He’s since worked in the tech startup world, and for some larger companies, too.
He lives with his wife and two children in Cranford, New Jersey.
Want to get to know Ranjeet a bit better? Check out our conversation about what he’d do on his perfect day (although he points out this fantasy day has never actually happened), what book is on his iPad and why he’s so passionate about Tulalens.
What are you reading these days?
I absolutely love to read. I devour books. My interest varies — I like history, historical fiction, horror, business and self-improvement.
Right now, I’m reading Concrete Blonde. It’s total airport fiction but that literally happens to be what’s on my iPad right now.
Also, The 4-Hour Work Week. There are a couple of books I like to reread every year and that’s one of them.
What is your favorite part about living where you live?
I love that it’s close to family. It’s close to both my parents and my mother-in-law. My wife’s two sisters also live very close to us in New Jersey. It allows our kids to grow up with their cousins and grandparents.
There’s a good school system. It has all the things you look for in terms of places to raise a family.
What would you do on your perfect day off?
I’d let my wife sleep in and have morning time with the kids. We’d have brunch. It’s our favorite meal.
I’d read for an hour or two. Take a nap...I love naps even though I hardly ever get to take them. Then catch a hockey game and follow it up with a nice cocktail and a big steak dinner.
I’ve never had a day like that in my life but that’s why we’re moving forward!
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
People who knew me when I was younger might be surprised that I’m an early-riser and have a good work ethic.
People who know me now might be surprised that I was a straight-A student (...it went off the rails pretty quickly.)
What’s a hidden talent?
I’m freakishly good at trivia.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Early is when I typically like to work, and night is when I typically read and binge watch bad TV.
I’m perpetually short on sleep.
What do you do for Tulalens?
I’m on the board. I haven’t been on quite a year yet. It was late summer when I joined. My involvement is not an ongoing operational role. I work with Priya and Erin to set and plan towards fundraising objectives. I work on medium and long term planning. How are we going to fundraise to meet our objectives — things of that nature.
How did you get involved with Tulalens?
Anita Datar and I were college friends. We met the first week of undergrad and were friends ever since. She told me about it when she and Priya were still kicking the idea around. I was aware of what she was doing because she called to pick my brain about fundraising and tech startups and it went from there.
What was your first impression of the organization?
My first thoughts were that it was a very, very cool idea. It’s something important because it’s focused on helping the folks that never get any attention from the start-up community. It’s a really unique confluence of a couple of things.
There are loads of funding efforts going into creating and deploying services, but it’s important to connect the people that need those services with services that already exist. There is tons of inefficiency. It’s solving an important problem in a unique way.
Why did you want to be part of this organization?
I’ve done a lot of tech startups, but I have no experience on the development side of things or with NGOs.
Erin and Priya and Anita all had experience on that side and they wanted to apply startup principles to a not-for-profit. I felt I could complement what they already brought to the table with for-profit startup experience.
What about Tulalens inspires you?
It’s an ability to apply concepts and principles that have heretofore been applied to solving “first world” problems so to speak. The concept has been effective, so we’re applying it to a population that has been grotesquely underserved, historically.
It is being much more efficient for the people that need the service, and it helps them make the choice that’s best for them.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating or getting involved with Tulalens?
Tulalens is a great place for you to invest your time or make a contribution...
...if generally you are interested in applying modern technology to help assist the underprivileged in any way, shape, or form.
...if generally you care about child care, neonatal care, parental care, women’s issues and children’s issues particularly as it relates to healthcare and the crucial stages right before, during, and after birth.
...if generally you are interested in the South Asian subcontinent geographically since that’s our immediate area of care.
...if generally you fit any one or more of that criteria talk to us about what Tulalens is doing and how we can help you get involved.
Ranjeet's interview with Kathleen has been edited for length and clarity.