Trumping the Taboo: Interview with Madhavi Jadhav, Founder ThatMate
Madhavi Jadhav is the Founder of ThatMate, a platform which aims to shatter myths and taboo associated with sexual and mental health among adolescents, a state-level boxer and a TedEx Speaker.
Sourya (S): When did the entrepreneurial big initially bite you?
Madhavi (M): When I was in Bangalore, everyone there was really into startups and I would just listen to stories of new startups and there were so many startups popping up in Bangalore back then in 2014/15, it being the “Silicon Valley of India”. I guess that inspired me and it was finally towards the end of 2015 that I thought I should start working on my own, but I didn’t have a clear idea as to what would I like to work on. At last, in 2016, one day when I was talking to my niece, she told me that Sex Education in India is still considered a major taboo topic and there are no platforms for kids to really talk about their problems and doubts. In 2016, June-July I started blogging and it was not enough. So a started laying the groundwork and in October 2016 I quit my job and traveled around India for 3 months. I started working on this full-time on ThatMate from January 2017.
(S): You used to work for the Royal Dutch Shell, what motivated you to leave that job security and venture out?
(M): In all honesty, I was actually bored with the corporate job. I worked there for around 9 years as a Senior Reservoir Engineer and I wasn’t finding anything interesting so, I starting out and taking the risk wasn’t that huge a risk for me.
(S): What exactly is That Mate?
(M): ThatMate is an education platform that aims to shatter the myths and taboos associated with sexual and mental health by providing an interactive learning experience through comic books, cartoon characters, workshops, online forum, counseling. You can consider ThatMate to be that friend of yours who helps you resolve those queries which are generally unanswered as society considers them as a taboo. So basically sexual health and mental health issues especially for the adolescents.
We do this with the help of online platform and our workshops, comic books, etc.
(S): What kind of opposition/challenges did you face when you tried to tackle topics which the society generally considered taboo?
(M): Promotions, generally is a bit difficult, as people are hesitant and/or shy to even talk about it. Also, a lot of the education we are trying to provide is considered as “social work” because of which Parents ain’t willing to pay for their Children to receive it as they think it’s not necessary for their kids, even though they are in the 7th or 8th grade, which is when the mental block comes.
(S): You are also a State Level Boxer, how did boxing come into your life and how has that impacted you as a person?
(M): I used to play tennis in 2015 but stopped it due to a knee injury. Once you start being a sports person you would always like to be a sports person, and so I wanted to get into a game again. So one day while going for a morning walk I saw a boxing coach, so I randomly went and spoke to them and asked them about admissions, even though I did not see any women there. But they readily agreed and were happy to coach me.
(S): Currently, ThatMate conducts workshops and has a comic, what next in line for ThatMate?
(M): We recently launched out ThatMate Forum. While growing up we all had questions like, what are periods? How do I put on a condom? Are tampons safe? What exactly is sex? How to reduce anxiety? We would all have had a lot of doubts like these but no one to ask expect equally unaware peers or Google. And more often then not Google would end up scaring/confusing us even more. ThatMate Forum is the platform where adolescents can register anonymously and get all their queries answered by experts.
(S): How do you balance work for That Mate and time for boxing practice?
(M): So my day starts pretty early, I get up at around 5:30- 6 am, practice for around 2.5 hours. By 9 am I’m at home and from 9 am onwards I start working on ThatMate. Sometimes when I am not in a mood I don’t do anything and relax because there are days when you need to rest and reset your own system. You really can’t help anyone when you are yourself worn out.