AarogyaAI– Our First Year
Co-Founders Praapti Jayaswal (CEO) and Avlokita Tiwari (CTO) share their startup journey.
AarogyaAI was conceptualised in 2019 while Praapti was at Entrepreneur First in Bangalore and Avlokita had just returned to India after completing a research internship in Japan. Both founders had been colleagues at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) in the NCR Biotech Cluster and shared a desire to put their academic training to real world use.
Through her PhD, Praapti focused on developing a novel vaccine against Tuberculosis by tailoring membrane vesicles to produce a customisable immune response. This patentable technology is currently being validated. Avlokita concentrated her research on phylogenetics and bioinformatics, also researching drug targets using computational methods, both in Finland and Japan.
Both Avlokita and Praapti saw immense value in disrupting a system where prescription of tuberculosis treatment is largely empirical. To make this highly accurate and rapid AarogyaAI exploits genomics and Artificial Intelligence to rapidly and comprehensively diagnose drug resistance in tuberculosis within hours, instead of weeks. The prototype is built and ready for clinical validation.
The Co-Founders have known each other since 2013 as colleagues and carpool buddies that talked about their scientific interests, shared music and even won radio contests together! Backed by UK-based Entrepreneur First and having raised a US-based strategic investment (to be announced), AarogyaAI are proud recipients of the BIRAC TiE Women in Entrepreneurial Research Award 2020, and the Best Pitch Award from Shakti: The Empathy Project. They were also featured in Business Outlook’s -Big Idea.
The founders are grateful to their team, advisors, family and friends for their kindness, support and encouragement.
Learnings & Insights
For the founders, transitioning from academia into the industry has been an unparalleled learning experience.
‘The speed at which things happen’ is one of the most striking differences between a research laboratory and a startup. This is attributed to the fact that the founders are the decision makers, and with great power comes great responsibility! They’ve had to take some very tough decisions and are constantly learning from their mistakes.
As leaders, Praapti and Avlokita, rank empathy and resilience as their top values. The importance of team spirit and communication cannot be stressed upon enough. The team has weekly calls to make sure everyone is enjoying what they are doing while focussing on creating a healthy work environment where everyone sees value in what they do and find happiness in the process.
In a country with brilliant ideas, execution is what sets you apart. With the constant rise of antimicrobial resistance, genomics will play an even larger role in predicting, combating, and preventing infectious diseases, in the future. As Covid-19 has already shown the world, we are not prepared for a global health crisis. The key is to be one step ahead of the bugs. AarogyaAI is on its way to predict bacterial evolutionary trends and be better prepared to avert the next pandemic. AarogyaAI aims to empower humanity with genomics and AI towards a healthier life and is well on its way to changing the way healthcare is administered in India.