Who we are

Our Story

Our Vision

We believe that education must be brought back into the hands of the people, and therefore we envision a self-designed education for all, which is accessible, equitable and localised.

Our Mission

Reclaiming the meaning of education and breaking the existing factory-model of learning, by helping communities create their own schools. These schools are called Nooks.

Our Team

consists of diverse and challenging individuals who defy societal assumptions and pursue their passion.

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Abhijit Sinha
Founder – CEO

Abhijit was born with a certain quiet curiosity that led him to play with pressure cookers and light bulbs as a child, instead of plastic toys. It was when education was taking him away from exercising this curiosity and challenging things around him, that he came around to create Project DEFY and the concept of Nook as a low-cost self-learning space. People now use the term “Social Entrepreneur” and “Social Innovator” to describe him, but he likes to think of himself simply as a problem-solver and a forever optimist.

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Megha
Co-Founder, Chief of Growth

A human rights lawyer and a self-proclaimed feminist, Megha is passionate about the realisation of every individual’s self-worth. When she is not arguing about the basic fundamentals of human rights she is trying to be a writer in the Hindustani language.

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Arvind Badrinarayanan
Co-Director

Arvind has been interested in learning pretty much everything since he was little. But after experiencing nearly every major educational system first hand, Indian, Arab, British and American, in primary, high school and college, he came to the conclusion that the system was broken globally. Arvind became a strong believer in self and peer learning and other alternative and customisable methodologies, which he believes to be the future of learning.

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Madhavi
Chief Operations Manager

The power of self-learning and creating something innovative everyday was just too contagious to let go. Before this, she has had a long career at the corporates; taken the plunge to be an entrepreneur; served as a mentor and a guide to individuals and communities. She loves to work with people to encourage them to create their best masterpieces and bring them to this world through the power of self-learning and discovery.

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Alison
Multimedia Storyteller

Alison works to capture, nurture and amplify stories of learning and resilience, especially in marginalized communities. She has worked for several years to document craft livelihoods across India and believes in the innovative solutions to contemporary problems to be found in rural areas.

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Dheeraj Tiwari
Program Manager (Tech)

An agent for nurturing future ready students at govt schools, Dheeraj has worked with underprivileged students, exposing them to new age technologies like Robotics, IOT and such, while also introducing them to the concept of maker culture and tinkering.

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Kushal Kumar K
Hopper

Passionate about children and mingling with Adults, loves to travel and learn new languages. Being a hopper has taught him to live without fear.

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Arnab Bhattacharyya
Program Manager

An individual fuelled by passion, and driven by a purpose to solve India’s education crisis, Arnab has been working in this space for more than 2 years now, after leaving the corporate world. He has a keen knack to take on problems and challenges and come up with creative solutions through design thinking and ideation.

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Christoph Neusiedl

Christoph loves to travel the world and to learn about other people’s lives, their unique ideas and perspectives. At different times of his life, he called Germany, Malaysia, Bangladesh, England, Hong Kong and now India his home. Christoph’s academic and non-academic work highlights how new approaches to education based on self-designed learning can be key elements in helping us to overcome the various and interrelated economic, environmetal, social, spiritual and political crises that are the result of mainstream education and development.

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A strong proponent of freedom of thought, inclusion and diversity. She has worked with marginalised women and youth in disadvantaged communities in Africa and Asia to give them a voice as independent and respectable members of society.

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Kushal Kumar K
Hopper

Passionate about children and mingling with Adults, loves to travel and learn new languages. Being a hopper has taught him to live without fear.

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Christoph Neusiedl
Chief Impact Officer

Christoph loves to travel the world and to learn about other people’s lives, their unique ideas and perspectives. At different times of his life, he called Germany, Malaysia, Bangladesh, England, Hong Kong and now India his home. Christoph’s academic and non-academic work highlights how new approaches to education based on self-designed learning can be key elements in helping us to overcome the various and interrelated economic, environmetal, social, spiritual and political crises that are the result of mainstream education and development.

Our Advisory

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Sanjay Prasad
Serial Entrepreneur, Mentor, Advisor & Angel Investor

With 27+ years of experience in sales, marketing, technology and leadership roles in the high-tech industry. His expertise lies in the process and organisational transformation, technology strategy and implementation, project management, new product development, financial restructuring, customer acquisition and market strategy. He has four successful ventures from inception to successful acquisition to his credit.

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Vidya Laxman
Tech Director, Tesco

Guides in creating partnerships and collaborations for innovation with the corporate sector in India.

A senior management professional with 18+ yrs (Across USA & India), entrepreneurial with commercial acumen in products and services business. She has a rich mix of business development, strategic planning, project management and operational excellence in a global delivery model. Vidya is on a Core committee member in industry bodies like NASSCOM, Grace Hopper (Anita Borg Institute) and Women leadership forums.

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Bilal Ghalib
Project Director, AltCity

Contributes to Project DEFY in nook design and development strategies and process challenges an entrepreneur, activist and maker. For close to a decade he’s been helping establish collaborative making spaces in America and the Middle East. Some of his recent explorations include how cooperative spaces support refugee communities in Beirut and how meditation polishes what we make. Ultimately the discussions he seeks to surround the concepts of the good life and a beautiful world as it relates to community, economy and making.

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Lieut. Gen (Dr) Rajesh Pant PVSM, AVSM, VSM
Renowned Soldier & Scholar

Advises Project DEFY on building strategic partnerships with the public sector.

As a soldier, the officer served the Indian Army Signals for more than 41 years, participated in many military operations, including in Sri Lanka and Kargil. As a scholar, the officer is a triple post graduate, in 2014, he obtained his PhD in Information Security. As a mentor, he is presently guiding startups in the IT sector. He is presently the Chairman of Precision Electronics Ltd, a Governing Council member of IETE, an International Consultant in Information Security, and is also associated with NAAC, as well as being a visiting faculty in some renowned educational institutions.

Awards & Accolades

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FabLearn

Presented the DEFY model at Stanford University at the FabLearn conference which is now part of the ACM digital Library.

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HundrED 

Selected 2 years in a row (2017-2018) one of the first 10 of 100 global educational innovations by Finland based HundrED(.org)

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Good Festival

Won the 100 Top Innovations Prema Gyan Award at Lausanne, Switzerland at the Good Festival. 

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Global Junior Challenge

Winner of Global Junior Challenge 2015 held in Rome that rewards the innovative use of technology for the education of 21st century and the social inclusion.

Womennovator

 In 2018, Megha was selected among 100 “Women of Substance” by The ‘Wommenovator’ program.

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St. Gallen Symposium

Abhijit was a as a leader to participate and speak at the 48th St. Gallen Symposium held in May 2018 to debate «Beyond the end of work» in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

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International Visitor Leadership Program

March 2018,  Megha Bhagat. Recognized as a future leader of change through the US State Department International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) 

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Kanthari

Abhijit Sinha was a participant in the 2015 kanthari leadership training  course. 

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I Inspire

Abhijit Sinha was presented with the Social Entrepreneur award of the Year BD Foundation 2017

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Common Purpose

Winners of Common Purpose Challenge 2016 held in UK. 

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Transcendence Award

Project DEFY received this prestigious accolade at the U.S. Michigan State University in 2019.

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Rex Karmaveer Global Fellow (RKGF) 2018-19

RKGF is to recognize people who have the courage of conviction to think differently and walk the path less trodden and to act on alternative/ innovative ideas which may make a difference in our world

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