So many of our BR!NKers are big-thinkers, but when we say that Kosta Grammatis thinks big, we literally mean it. The 25-year-old is working on providing free basic internet to every single global citizen. While it’s easy to take for granted your ability to read online news, or have an email account, Kosta reminds us that more than five billion people live digitally disconnected without any sort of internet access. His foundation, A Human Right, hopes to solve this global disconnect by taking advantage of satellite technology. The idea of getting the entire world online may sound more than a little daunting, but to Kosta it’s just another problem to solve.
When you were 18, where did you see yourself at 25?
It was never about the end goal. For me it was like, what kind of unique experiences am I going to have in my life? That’s how I thought about my future.
What do you say if someone asks what you do for a living?
That’s the hardest question to answer. I usually say I do what I want, I live my dream.
The goal of A Human Right is such a huge undertaking. Was this ever intimidating to you?
The philosophy behind it – that was easy. When it came to the how – how could I possibly ensure that everybody can get online? That’s where it got really challenging.
What’s the general reaction you get from people who hear what you’re working on?
People are incredible. It’s really not about me, it’s about all of the internet, and the people who use the internet and love the internet. They’re all standing behind this idea, and I’m just glad to be one of them.
Why do you think people have been so supportive?
When you see what’s going in Egypt, when you see what’s going on in Libya… they keep shutting off the internet. The value and importance of accurate information has been totally illustrated for people in a way that I could never put into words. The minute that they shut off the internet in Egypt, people started to wonder, “Oh, they can do that?” And then I add, “Yeah, five billion can’t get online right now at all. There’s five billion people who don’t even have the ability to get shut off from the internet.”
Right now, what are the biggest obstacles in A Human Right’s path?
I don’t think of it in terms of obstacles. There’s nothing too big to overcome, you just have to have a clear vision and enough energy to follow through on it.
Okay, so what are you focusing your energy and time on right now?
Right now we’re talking to satellite owners who want to donate some of their capacity to us. And that looks like the direction we’re moving in – building a network on preexisting infrastructure. There’s so much capacity that’s not being used.
How much of your time right now are you devoting to A Human Right?
Uh…160 percent. It’s my life.
You can be a pretty difficult person to get a hold of since you travel a lot. You just came back from Greece, what were you doing there?
In Greece I was speaking at TEDx. That was a scary experience.
I’ve never spoken to that many people, and I’ve never had such a big message to deliver.
What did it feel like after you gave your presentation?
You know how you feel after you have really good sex? It was just like that. After I got off stage I was in this complete daze.
Do you have any sort of target date for getting the globe online?
I was reading an article the other day that asked, “Are business plans a work of fiction?” And I believe that they totally are. So many pieces have to fall into perfect alignment in order for something to come to life. We’re thinking in the next six months there’s going to be some really big developments, but there are a lot of unknowns on a project of this scale.
What keeps you motivated everyday?
I love what I do. Every day is a new adventure, a new problem to solve, a new mission to fulfill. I don’t actually believe in failure. I’m not the kind of guy that gets hung up on, “This didn’t work.” If that didn’t work, try something else. It’s always, “We learned something, let’s move on and try something else.”
That’s such an admirable mindset.
My focus in my life has always been about taking great risks, not being afraid of failure, and just trying things out to see what happens for the experience. One other thing is no judgment. I think those traits allow me to do things that most people might be afraid of trying.
So even though you’re working on such a huge global project, you don’t feel the pressure on you?
Not at all. Because we have a plan, and we have other plans besides this plan if this plan doesn’t work. Having a good plan, and then having a good team, is pretty confidence-building. I sleep at night just fine.
So you’re saying you know that the goal of A Human Right is possible, and one way or another it’s just going to get done?
Yeah, and if it’s not me who does it, that’s okay too. Because our whole entire goal is just to get everyone online. It doesn’t matter who does it, or how it’s done. Our number one role is advocacy. Number two is actually solving the problem. Number one, though, is just getting people behind the idea of access to information as a human right.
How can readers contribute to the success of A Human Right?
We’re putting together fundraising campaigns. Our latest, buythissatellite.org, is certainly one that your readers can make a contribution to. We also have an ambassador program: young leaders around the world who join up and represent a human right in their own country, state or city. People are welcome to apply online. Another thing is just tell your friends that you think access to information is a human right.
Learn more about A Human Right’s plan for free global internet at ahumanright.org.