When he realised his values and his career were at odds Vikas Garg decided that if he could change then he could try to change the world!
What’s your story?
I am the Founder & CEO of abillion, an ecosystem for sustainability that adopts a community-first approach to help people make choices that are better for the planet.
I started my first Wall Street internship at just 14 years old, going on to forge a successful career in finance. However, in 2017, having realised that my professional life and personal values weren’t aligned, I acted on a bold idea to change the world: what if one billion people could adopt a plant-based lifestyle whilst driving community impact? And so, abillion was born.
What excites you most about your industry?
That there is so much untapped potential! The plant-based movement is only just getting started; we’ve seen incredible growth of abillion since the app debut in 2018 (the app has been downloaded almost one million times), which is testament to the fact that people are increasingly concerned with making more sustainable choices; to me, that is very exciting.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
A genuine belief in what we are doing.
abillion is a necessary ecosystem for the plant-based movement, and by empowering users to share feedback and donate to worthwhile causes, as well as sharing information and research with companies who are aiming to enhance their plant-based offering, we are helping sustainability to become the norm.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Humility, perseverance, and maintaining a positive outlook.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Find purpose by connecting your values with what you do everyday.
Who inspires you?
My wife Sonia. She’s my best friend, my partner in life, mother to our daughter, a brilliant leader at work, she finds time to stay fit and social, and she’s much better than me in the kitchen, among other things.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
I recently learned that there are 400 million privately owned guns in America and that accounts for nearly half of all civilian owned guns around the world. That’s staggering for a country that’s 4% of the world’s population!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, however, the main lesson I have learnt is the importance of aligning my personal beliefs with my professional life.
abillion aims to leverage technology as an instrument to impact positive social change. To me, knowing that my work is going some way to protecting the planet and animals drives me and my team to succeed.
How do you unwind?
I try to kickstart each day with exercise – swimming or running – which I find really helps to clear my head ahead of the day. I also love music, and I started baking during lockdown, which is also very relaxing!
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
My major ‘ah ha’ moment came when I started to embrace a vegan lifestyle in 2008, having been a lifelong vegetarian. Being vegetarian presents some challenges,, but I was suddenly struck by how hard it was to find excellent vegan options. This wasn’t that they didn’t exist; rather, there was no discourse around where to go for vegan menus/dishes. This was one of the reasons I created abillion.
Everyone in business should read this book:
I’m a big believer in initiative, grit and integrity and I think these qualities are hallmarks of great teams and leaders. One of my favorite books that explores this topic and the challenges founders face is The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.
Shameless plug for your business:
abillion thinks very much like a non-profit; for every review, users are able to donate $1 to some of the world’s most impactful organisations, who lead conservation, education and diet change efforts. This helps users to make the connection between their daily habits and the impact they are having.
Since its debut in 2018, the abillion community has become an invaluable tool for businesses looking to enhance their plant-based offerings. abillion shares feedback and suggestions based on reviews left by users, as well as industry insights gleaned from real consumer data.
How can people connect with you?
The best way to connect with me is on abillion – my username is @vikas
Social Media Links?
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abillion/ (note that this our company account. I don’t have a personal IG account)
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.