[Note: This is a weekly series. If your company is doing something amazing to help a charitable cause or doing some good in your community, please reach out.]
Sometimes, it’s not only political powerhouses who have the power to change the world. Sometimes it’s true-blue entrepreneurs who live to solve problems. One such person is Gurbaksh Chahal, who, with some pretty impressive backers, launched BeProud.org after the shootings at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin in August 2012.
The point of the multi-million-dollar campaign is to put an end to hatred and to encourage self-pride. Using the web to help bring attention to this is a fantastic idea. I had a chance to chat with Chahal on his background and the future of the BeProud initiative.
TechCrunch: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Gurbaksh Chahal: I am a three-time Internet entrepreneur, with two successful tech ventures under my belt. I am currently working on my third business as the founder and CEO of RadiumOne, which delivers programmatic advertising across the web, mobile, and Facebook.
TechCrunch: What is it about your history that made you want to dedicate your life to making things better for others?
Gurbaksh Chahal: I’m a big believer in the more you give back to the universe, the more it gives right back to you. For the first 18 years, I faced immense racism and hardship because I looked different. I thought I had it tough growing up, but I never imagined at 30 I’d watch a massacre unfold when in early August a white supremacist stormed into a peaceful Sikh temple in Wisconsin and murdered six people and wounded several others. I was sickened. I realized the only way change could happen is if I made this my problem and did something about it. Violent hate crimes, including unnecessary gun violence, have escalated to a grotesque level; we need to do all we can to eliminate them. BeProud isn’t about raising awareness for any particular group. It is greater than any religion, culture, nationality or appearance. It’s about realizing we are all human first and we should be proud of what makes us unique.
TechCrunch: What have you learned along the way with BeProud.org that makes the foundation and campaign special and long-lasting?
Gurbaksh Chahal: I’ve learned that you need to give a voice to those who have something to say but aren’t being heard. BeProud is an awareness and advocacy program dedicated to ending hate in the world. By unifying this country under one common goal, we are putting a stop to this horrific epidemic. We have great traction with dozens of influencers (Nelson Mandela Family), various celebrities (Deepak Chopra), and international stars endorsing the cause to help raise awareness.
TechCrunch: What are your goals for this in the next 3-5-10 years?
Gurbaksh Chahal: We will continue to create thought-provoking campaigns that evoke powerful emotions. Hate is something that we’re taught not born with. I’m convinced if you can connect with people on a universal level, change will happen. Our initial campaign was just the beginning. Our next step will be to build deeper, engaging campaigns online and offline, allowing people to connect and become part of the solution. Hate takes effort. Love is constant.
TechCrunch: What tools have you used to help get the word out there, what has worked for you? What didn’t?
Gurbaksh Chahal: BeProud is a multimillion-dollar campaign that crosses traditional and social media. We launched a prime-time PSA that ran 133 times in November. Mark Cuban has also shown his support by running the PSA across his TV networks for free through January 21st. An extended web version of the PSA has already been viewed 100,000 times and can be viewed here:
We launched a Facebook application that turns profile pictures into your own BeProud stamp, created a Twitter account and a YouTube channel. Users are encouraged to upload 60 second videos to YouTube answering the questions: “What are you most proud of and what do you stand for?” including the tags, #BeProud and #EndHate. I’m a big believer in social media as a long-term outlet for social causes to elicit change. If governments can be overthrown through social media, then we have the power to evolve as a society by connecting everyone together to end hate.
TechCrunch: What are some of your personal favorite foundations that “do things right”?
Gurbaksh Chahal: I am a big fan of how the Kony2012 movement started and loved the viral nature of the “It Gets Better” campaign. The power of social media was the ingredient behind their success. I am convinced long-term, with over 1 billion people connected across various social networks, the power of information will become the power of change.
While the “whats” of a social campaign for change are great, it’s nice to hear about all of the thought and mechanics behind it. If you’re a company or non-profit wanting to grab awareness and support for your cause, then Chahal is someone worth reaching out to, asking questions of and getting advice from.
The web is a wonderful place, you just have to dig a little bit deeper to find the good sometimes.