Diagnosed with diabetes at the peak of her career, working as a medical imaging expert at GE Global Research, the R&D wing of America’s technology behemoth General Electric, Mausumi Acharyya realized lack of cost efficient and accurate diagnostic softwares for various diseases, let alone their accessibility in semi-urban and rural areas. So, she built one herself under Advenio TecnoSys, her startup, that represented India at the Start Tel Aviv, Israel’s annual global start-up competition, in September 2016.
Living away from her family since 2002, it wasn’t tough for her to manage her daily routine while donning the entrepreneur hat.
“There was not much change in terms of what I was eating, what time I went to sleep or woke up,” says Acharyya, who launched Advenio in Bengaluru. Calling her start-up as her ‘greatest and most soul satisfying achievement’, Acharyya sees this as the fruition of her lifelong dream to give back to society, more than just being a for-profit social start-up. “Advenio made my life purposeful. I risked everything, professionally and personally to start this venture,” believes Acharyya.
But the journey wasn’t easy. She lost her mother just before launching Advenio. Moreover, she had a hard time finding an investor to fund Advenio. “2010 was not the best time to start a new venture, as the Indian economy was not in the best shape. We couldn’t raise capital as no investors were ready to fund our technology development. Also, government grant wasn’t available. I often thought of going back to job but now I feel my perseverance helped yield results,” recalls Acharyya, now
based in Chandigarh.
The start-up is working on two clinical imaging softwares, first, iCheck, which identifies retinal abnormalities and second, Ri-View TB, to identify tuberculosis. Artificial intelligence, deep learning, and machine learning based computer assisted detection is used for the processes. “While I was at GE, I realized that healthcare diagnostic softwares in countries like India are very expensive. Moreover, India doesn’t have a national scheme for healthcare needs. When it comes to semi-urban and rural areas, there are issues of non-availability and non accessibility,” she further says, proud of launching first-of-its-kind health-tech start-up in India, that has developed these solutions in house.
The results are certainly encouraging for her. Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council - Government of India, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IIM-Ahmedabad, etc., have offered grants to Advenio for its development work. Further, in August this year, venture capital firm, Kalaari Capital’s seed fund, Kstart, invested $100,000 in Advenio. In the same month it won India finals of Start Tel Aviv. “Kstart investment is a great validation of our efforts that will let other investors also to believe in us. We will soon write to Ratan Tata for his support,” claims Acharyya. Advenio’s softwares immediately recognize retina and tuberculosis abnormalities by looking at the images.
“Doctors have limitation in terms of the number of images they can check in a day. In all clinical conditions, out of 100 for e.g., only five people have abnormalities. To locate those five, all 100 of them need to be checked. The entire process is time consuming. Using Advenio softwares, a doctor can attend to around 2,000 patients per day. Also areas where doctors are not available, our softwares can be used as a screening tool- given that India is the global capital for retinal diseases and tuberculosis,” explains Acharyya. The company plans to develop softwares to detect two or three other diseases in next two years.
(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (October 2016 Issue).