My name is Gaurav Kalyani. I am an archaeology graduate from Durham University. I was recently selected for a short term program called Durham Venture School. It offers me a chance to go back to Durham and work on creating my own startup. Although the living cost is covered by the program, it does not cover the travel, visa and other covid-19 related costs. I require Rs. 3,45,400 in total to cover all these expenses. I would really appreciate if you are able contribute and help me pursue my dream. For more detailed information I request you to continue reading.
I was born in Pune, Maharashtra. I was fortunate enough to receive financial support from my parents to pursue my master’s degree which I completed in 2017. Currently I am working with an NGO called Vicharvedh Association, where I manage its Youtube channel and coordinate various other activities. After my post-graduation, though I was not able to pursue a career in it, I kept in touch with archaeology through social media platforms such as Youtube and Twitter and developed a keen interest in digital archaeology and the emerging sub-discipline of archaeogaming. I quickly realized that these initiatives are mostly confined in the western scholarship and global north. There is a severe gap in the representation and participation of scholars and creators from global south in these initiatives. I wanted to address this in my own capacity so I conducted an online survey on the perception of historical videogames in India. It was selected for the 2019 Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) conference’s Archaeogaming session, where I got a chance to present my work remotely through twitter. I recently learned of a new program started by my university called Durham Venture School, where they will mentor and guide a cohort of Durham alumni who are interested in starting their own ventures but lack funds and support. I applied for it and was selected for a three month residential program, with a chance to extend it for another 3 months if selected for the next phase.
Why I need this
My parents had taken loans to both finance their business and support my master’s education. However, things did not work out as planned and we were faced with severe financial crisis. Due to this I was not able to pursue a career in archaeology and struggled to find other employment opportunities. Unfortunately due to my job and other responsibilities I also could not follow up on my work on the archaeogaming project. With this program I have that chance. Starting in early September, This program aims to provide support and initial funding (depending on final selection) to launch our startups. This is a rare opportunity that I’ve got to revive my career after struggling for a long time. I am barely able to support my family with my current job as we are struggling to find a way out of our current financial situation. The pandemic has made things only worse. I do not have any savings and my parents are not in a position to support me. I cannot apply for any more loans. I tried to get scholarships, travel grants from some NGOs and Foundations but they rejected stating that my program does not fit their criteria for funding. This is the only option that I’ve left.
The program itself is free with living expenses covered for first three months. The costs of travel and visa etc. are however not covered. The visa required for the international candidates such as myself is the Standard Visitor’s visa which allows undertaking short duration courses. It costs £95 (approx. Rs. 9800). Due to the covid-19 situation in India, it is in the red list in UK and travelers from India currently need to quarantine themselves for 10 days. The cost of quarantine and 2 compulsory covid tests is £1,750 (approx. Rs. 1,80,600). Unfortunately it is a fixed cost and there aren’t any other options available. My program does not cover it so I will also have to bear this. The average price for a one way airplane ticket is around Rs. 50,000 so the total cost of round trip would be Rs. 1,00,000 (approx. £970). I am hoping this price goes down by the time I book the tickets but with the current situation it seems difficult. Additionally I require travel insurance which costs around Rs. 5000 (£50). The stipend for living cost does not cover the deposit that I will need to pay while booking my accommodation. It will cost around £480 (approx. Rs. 50,000). As this will be refundable, I am planning to use it also as an emergency fund. So the overall funds that I require are around Rs. 3,45,400 (approx. £3,345).
Videogames are a unique media which has the capacity to convey stories in an interactive form. People have already started to leverage them not only as educational tools but also as an outlet for representation of the marginalized. This is what I want to achieve with my archaeogaming startup, which can not only help make the past more accessible but will also be able to tell stories which have been historically marginalized and overlooked. I am also open and looking forward to exploring other archaeology related startup ideas.
I am considering the funds raised through this campaign as the first investment towards my startup. If I am successfully able to launch it, either immediately after this program or in near future, I intend to pay it forward by hiring or getting maximum, mutually beneficial participation from marginalized communities/sections and to help anyone, especially the Bahujan aspirants in India, in following their entrepreneurial dreams. I humbly request you to contribute as much as possible to help me reach my goal. Even your small donation will go a long way. I will be very grateful for your support.