Monik Pamecha holds forth to an audience of over 16,000 every day, several times a day. He offers opinion on everything, from the usefulness of social media sites and the importance of managing one’s resources efficiently while planning a project to shout-outs about his tech blog (Etiole), social networking site (Iluvtech.org) and short URL service (Hop.im).
Small wonder: Last month, Pamecha raised Rs40,000 for Help a Child, a charity organization for students. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
The 13-year-old also attends Smt Lilavatibai Podar Senior Secondary High School in Mumbai, takes tuition and plays the occasional game of soccer or badminton. What sets Monik a notch above other tech-savvy teens is that he was the force behind Mumbai’s Twestival Local (a Twitter festival where people who connect online over tweets meet up for a cause) last month: a charity event that raised Rs40,000 for Help a Child, an NGO which provides education to students who otherwise can’t afford it.
When quizzed about how he racked up a 16,000-plus following on Twitter in such a short period—he started his account about a year ago—the teenager appears flummoxed himself. “I’m not sure how it happened. I got about 1,000 followers within the first two months. As I became more active on Twitter, more people started following me,” he says.
Vaijayanthi K.M., 28, who follows Monik on Twitter and worked with him on Twestival Local, believes the fact that he’s 13 and tweeting is enough for people to follow him. “He’s the next generation. He comes up with things we may not think about,” she adds. Besides, Monik peppers his tweet feed with pointers about tech news or titbits about social networking media from his own blog.
Hrish Thota, 29, who started following Monik on Twitter after the Twestival, says: “At his age most people wouldn’t have thought of using Twitter for a cause. He’s already a blogger and has developed websites, and it’s interesting to see how someone as young as him is doing this much.”
Monik created Etiole, his tech blog, about two and a half years ago and blogs a minimum of three to four times a week. The site is now populated by about 10-15 regular bloggers that he sourced online. Any advertising revenue generated through the blog is divided among contributors according to the traffic they pull in. While the blog isn’t really profitable yet—it pulls in dollars in the three digits monthly, most of which are used to pay for operating costs—Monik doesn’t seem too concerned. “Many blogs just copy pieces and post them. Our posts are unique—you don’t get them anywhere else on the Internet,” he explains proudly.
Earning money is not a goal for him at the moment—those are his father’s instructions. Manoj Pamecha recalls when his son started coming to him with money he had earned by offering services online. “First he got Rs24,000 from someone, then another Rs5,000. I had to tell him not to think about earning money right now. He is in class IX.”
According to Pamecha, his son has been interested in computers since he was 2. “We enrolled him for a 15-day computer course for infants held near Juhu beach just for fun,” he says. And Monik has not looked back since.
Rather than pushing their son towards becoming a tech prodigy, however, Monik’s parents say they have adopted a hands-off approach. “He is very curious about everything going on in the world and he does all of this without our help. We just provide him the infrastructure. As long as he scores 80% marks at school, he can do whatever else he wants,” says Pamecha.
Unlike their son, the Pamechas are not technology oriented. In fact, Monik’s father admits that he did not know who the founder of Apple was until last year, when Monik’s school teacher told him his son wanted to become “the next Steve Jobs”.
Monik’s own interest in technology and social media has evolved over time. Rather than taking technology-related courses, he expands his knowledge base by trawling the Web and trying to develop applications. “In my free time I google online guides from where I can learn about developing applications. If I have a problem, I google it or tweet and ask for help.”
But popularity doesn’t come without an overhead, and Monik is already learning that he has to prioritize. “Earlier, I used to follow people who followed me. Now I don’t do it because it’s difficult to keep up with so many updates. Now, I give priority to people who tweet interesting content,” he says.
Apart from limiting the number of people he follows on Twitter, the 13-year-old manages to strike a balance between his active online life and school work by getting online only after he finishes his homework.