“Hi, I’m Vikas, and I started abillion, a movement to help a billion people save the planet. Before starting abillion, I worked in finance,” his LinkedIn says – and it pulls you right in.
Although Vikas was raised vegetarian, transitioning into veganism in 2008 proved to be quite a challenge: “Despite being vegetarian, cutting out the things I loved was hard, especially because it felt like I had far fewer options dining out. Before, I could go to most restaurants and could expect at least one vegetarian option, like a cheesy pasta dish. Turning vegan, it felt like I had to sacrifice my lifestyle. But since I’ve had this awakening of what I was doing to myself, my body, and the planet and animals, I knew I had to do it.” Now, being vegan is a huge part of his identity and something that most inspires him in life.
But first, his career had to align with his values. “I started working in finance when I was just a kid, and for as long as I can remember, I idolized Wall Street titans for their swagger. My career took me around the world, eventually bringing me to Singapore, where I started working at one of Asia’s biggest hedge funds.” He was so close to what he always thought would make him really happy. “And yet I knew that in order to spend the rest of my life doing something truly revolutionary, I had to pull the ripcord and leave behind what I had started.”
He started abillion, the global eco reviews app that has over one million users, in the aftermath of the 2016 US Presidential election, when he learned about how platforms like Facebook and Twitter had knowingly spread misinformation for their benefit, where our personal and private data was being sold to companies that were targeting us to interfere in our democratic processes. “We are a platform for social change, which very much means helping individuals and communities change behaviors and traditions that are generations or even centuries old. Technology can help create this mass acceleration, and for us it’s about giving people choices – better choices around the world.”
Abillion uses data creatively to influence businesses to increase the availability of vegan options. “Since we launched, we’ve helped more than 200,000 businesses around the world create better vegan options for consumers. In markets like Singapore, we’ve helped expand vegan options on restaurant menus over 20x in the last 5 years.” And we are just getting started.”
Apart from a very mission-led work life, making time for his health and his family, reading, and making time for hobbies – those are Vikas’ non-negotiables. “I was talking with one of our investors who is one of the most successful people I know. I asked him if it’s possible to truly compartmentalize. He said no, not ever completely, but it doesn’t hurt to try,” he laughs. A conscious habit he is practicing is listening more and speaking less.
“A simple bowl of pasta when done right.”
Made in America by Sam Walton.
“I’d be Batman.”
“I’d be Batman.“
“I was really into fashion.”
“…my mom, dad, and my brother. The four of us came to America with nothing, and it was only because of them that I had a chance to do something with my life. Family really is the most important thing in life.”