With a renewed zeal on being selected to the Top 20 of the IFDI Challenge, we were off to the Cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune. We never imagined we would be making Devi House at Shivaji Nagar, our office base for the next 3 months.
Until we were asked the question “Are you willing to stay in Pune for the next 3 months?” by the jury for the Top 20 selection, we had not seriously considered the option. But after the grinding and benefits in the 3 days at IIM-A, we knew we had to take this opportunity very seriously. Glad we did it!
We had started on the harsh background of heart attack cases in India. Heart attacks are silent and deadly killers. Symptoms are often not recognized, ignored or misinterpreted till it is too late. While there are no reliable statistics available for the number of people who die from sudden cardiac arrest in India, people do suffer fatal heart attacks without prior warning. It is absolutely traumatic when the person involved is someone dear, as we experienced a few years back when we lost close friends still in their 30s.
We had reached to the Top 20 with ASHA+ - a simple handheld “point of care” device that enables even a low level health care worker to capture various health parameters of the patient. The companion smartphone app retrieves the captured data and transmits it to a doctor, who may be located far away. The doctor can take informed decisions and give timely treatment related advice without being physically present. We were all geared up to take Asha+ to the next level in Pune.
Jayashri was the first to step into CoEP. We were least clued that a small step for Jayashree would turn into a giant leap for Team ASHA+
Team Asha+ in Pune
With the mentors Andre Marquis and Mark Searle
The first 4 days were earmarked for the Bootcamp at CoEP. True to its name it was literally that as on the very first day we were told to “Get out of the Building” by Andre Marquis from Lester Centre (University of California, Berkeley). We were told to go and meet customers, identify their pain points and discuss how our solution helps them. To be able to cold call an unknown stranger and fix an appointment with them was a ground breaking mindset change for us. With customers guiding us towards other customers, our life was made easier. With each customer seeing value in our solution, our confidence grew too.
Every advice of Andre and Mark struck a chord with us as they were backed with their own experience. No entrepreneur in their right mind would rubbish the insights from two highly successful global serial entrepreneurs.
This phase of the programme was called the Accelerator phase, which we realized was not that of Maruti 800 but of a Ferrari’s and Andre and Mark had placed their feet firmly on the gas pedal.
Team ASHA+ in the company of their Mentor
With Team CIIE
Speaking of mentors, we were assigned Mr. Ganesh Shevade as our adjunct, but he was much more than that, he was literally our guru, giving valuable suggestions for focusing on target customer segments and providing us leads to potential customers.
We believed in the role of Intel as a pioneer of this programme, but the thought was reinforced when we met the team from TCS (some of the top technical individuals like Prasad Zole, Naresh) being stationed to support the participating teams in their development activities (with backend support from Intel teams in India) and the availability of tools and equipment for us to accelerate our development.
We were highly impressed with the Intel Edison platform as soon as we saw its capabilities and we knew that it would elevate the quality of our product. We started figuring out ways in which we could make use of such a powerful platform for IOT (Dual Core Atom processor with 1G RAM, 4GB storage and built-in Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity). After much discussion with Intel and TCS team we finally decided that we would move our smartphone app functionality on to the Edison platform.
Interspersed in our quest for identifying our business strategy and making our product viable were some eye opening sessions organized by Intel in the series of “Let’s talk Innovation”. We also had an enlightening session with Mr. Ashish Deshpande and Ms. Aswini Deshpande from Elephant Design (a multi award winning design house), who made us realise our product was global.
The phase ended with the demo day where we could display our product and also talk to investors and guests who graced the closing session. We signed off from Pune with happy and rich (we had received two grants!) memories.
We were ecstatic when the results were announced and we made it to the Top 10! After getting selected in Top 10, the journey of limelight started which none of us had even dreamt about and here we were trying to live it. Added to this exciting journey was all the acclaim and recognition we received! We were thrilled to be interviewed on TV and actually be part of a programme to be telecast by NDTV. Such opportunities don’t occur usually.
Also, the day we in arrived in Delhi for the felicitation ceremony was spectacular. We were dazzled by an almost Oscars like atmosphere! There were people from the press and the setting was mind blowing! We were speechless when receiving the award as there must have been a zillion cameras shooting our pictures. Now we understand what it must feel like to be a star. Thank you Intel!
As soon as the photo op was over, we were on our way toRashtrapati Bhavan. It was surreal to be there as we got valuable advice from the Honorable President Pranab Mukherjee along with a photo op! To cap this dream was a high tea hosted by the President for us and patriotism swelled in us just by having tea from the cup, with the Indian Emblem embossed on it! These are moments that we’ll never forget.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the participants and do not represent the views of Intel, the Department of Science & Technology and CIIE in any form or matter.