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Shruti: Channeling Anger into Entrepreneurial Success

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From a young age, Shruti learned that people could be relentless in their attempts to stoke her anger. Growing up with an IAS officer father who had three daughters often led to comments that enraged her. Little did she know that these jibes would persist throughout her life, manifesting in various forms and places, including school, where she encountered gender bias. During her senior secondary years, Shruti encountered a different kind of challenge. Her teacher’s comment, “Girls are not good at maths,” and unsolicited advice to choose an easier subject like chemistry began to affect her confidence. Despite scoring well in math, Shruti started to internalize these biases, highlighting the societal pressures girls face in STEM fields.

Shruti’s journey took her to IIT-Delhi, where subtle gender biases and taunts she had experienced earlier became more direct. Phrases like “In IIT, there are males, and then there are non-males” were not uncommon. Despite the challenges, Shruti and her friends worked hard and proved their capabilities, winning trophies and breaking gender stereotypes. After completing her education, Shruti entered the professional world, where she encountered the age-old adage, “The boss is always right.” Her independent and opinionated nature clashed with this belief. She learned that expressing her ideas could be perilous, leading to labels like “arrogant.” When her colleagues, adept at sycophancy, received promotions and hefty raises, Shruti felt the sting of being talented but straightforward.

Undeterred, she left her job and joined a non-profit organization with a fair-minded boss who mentored her in the fundamentals of results-oriented problem-solving. His advice to earn an MBA and work in a for-profit environment stuck with her. Shruti followed his guidance, gaining admission to Harvard Business School (HBS). As a brown immigrant woman, she found herself at the bottom of the pecking order, facing yet another form of bias. However, her performance improved, and she understood the importance of businesses making a positive impact.

Returning to India in 2019, she launched ‘Sair,’ a tour and travel startup. Despite facing numerous challenges and a financial crisis during the pandemic, Shruti displayed resilience and resourcefulness. However, an investor’s rejection due to her Harvard background raised questions about gender bias in funding. Undeterred, Shruti co-founded ‘ApnaKlub’ in late 2020, a B2B wholesale platform for FMCG products aimed at semi-urban and rural areas. The startup has raised $20 million and gained recognition for its impressive performance, processing over two lakh orders and onboarding more than 38,000 partners. While Shruti acknowledges that her anger was her escape velocity for a long time, propelling her to prove her detractors wrong, she also recognizes its limitations. She advises channeling anger productively, emphasizing the importance of being known as an entrepreneur rather than a woman entrepreneur.

ApnaKlub‘s early success has garnered attention for all the right reasons, proving that Shruti’s determination and ability to navigate chaos are assets in execution-heavy businesses. Despite the headwinds she may face, Shruti’s mission-driven approach and resilience are likely to steer ApnaKlub toward continued success, demonstrating that channeling anger into productivity can lead to remarkable achievements.

Entrepreneurs

The WittyFeed Triumph: Vinay Singhal, Parveen Singhal, and Shashank Vaishnav’s Journey to Content Dominance

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Vinay Singhal, Parveen Singhal, and Shashank Vaishnav have created a stunning success story with WittyFeed in the digital world, where content is king. Rising from the ashes of failed businesses, these computer experts changed course and built the second-largest content platform globally, only surpassed by BuzzFeed. This piece explores the story of these visionary founders and how WittyFeed rose to prominence in the content industry.

In 2013, faced with the setbacks of two unsuccessful ventures, Vinay, Parveen, and Shashank decided to stay the course. Ditching Evrystry.com and FollowMe247, they envisioned a content platform that catered to the needs of content creators, distributors, and consumers. This vision materialized in September 2014 with the launch of WittyFeed—a platform that rapidly ascended the ranks to become the third-most visited website in the Indian entertainment category.

For Vinay Singhal, WittyFeed is not just a content platform; it’s a technology play. Leveraging robust technology and analytics, WittyFeed ensures its content goes viral by intricately guiding content selection, creation, distribution, and monetization. Real-time data analysis and insights into user behavior empower thousands of influencers to disseminate content, making WittyFeed a formidable player in the global content arena.

WittyFeed’s strategic foresight extends to its strong network of influencers, positioning the platform years ahead of its competitors. Recognizing influencers as the distributors in the digital world, WittyFeed created Viral9.com—an influencer platform with around 15,000 influencers. These influencers, with millions of followers, redirect traffic to WittyFeed, creating a symbiotic relationship that propels the platform’s reach.

WittyFeed’s impact transcends borders, with a presence in Spain, the US, and the UK, while rapidly gaining traction in India. The platform boasts over 100 million sessions and 60 million unique visitors monthly, generating revenues of ₹30 crore in FY17. Programmatic advertising forms a significant revenue stream, complemented by sponsored content collaborations with around 70 brands, including Uber, Coca-Cola, and Zee Studios. By endearing itself to brands, WittyFeed aims to derive 40 percent of its revenues from brand partnerships.

While WittyFeed has thrived, the platform remains vigilant about potential challenges, especially as Facebook’s algorithms evolve. Vinay emphasizes the importance of steering clear of click-bait and focusing on quality content to maintain a symbiotic relationship with Facebook. Future strategies include the integration of video content, fostering collaborations with mobile apps, and seeking a series A funding round for expansion.

The success of WittyFeed lies in the synergy of its founders—Parveen Singhal, Vinay Singhal, and Shashank Vaishnav. Parveen, the Chief Content Officer, envisions video content as the next growth frontier. Vinay, with a knack for building solutions, steers the technology-driven aspects, while Shashank, the Chief Technology Officer, brings real-time data analytics to the forefront.

As WittyFeed charts a course toward greater heights, its founders remain attuned to the evolving nature of digital consumption. Vinay Singhal encapsulates the essence of their journey, emphasizing the imperative of staying at the forefront of change. The triumvirate’s journey from the brink of failure to commanding one of the world’s largest content platforms is not just a success story; it’s a testament to resilience, innovation, and the power of strategic vision. In an ever-evolving digital landscape, WittyFeed and its founders stand poised for continued impact and influence.

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Entrepreneurs

Rahul Narang and Saurabh Arora: Architects of Healthcare Transformation at Lybrate

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Rahul Narang and Saurabh Arora‘s combined genius is evident in the rapidly changing field of healthcare innovation as they lead Lybrate, a ground-breaking online platform for medical consultations. The story takes place against the backdrop of Saurabh Arora, who attended Columbia Business School and IIT Delhi before purposefully changing his course. 2014 saw Arora leave his position as a data scientist at Facebook in Silicon Valley in order to pursue his homegrown business goals. This crucial choice launched Lybrate in 2015, a platform that has the potential to completely transform patient-doctor relations.

Arora’s vision for Lybrate germinated during a visit to India, where he keenly observed the challenges posed by self-medication in rural areas and the inconveniences faced by urban denizens. Fueled by a determination to bridge these gaps, Arora enlisted the expertise of his former colleague and friend, Rahul Narang, who assumed the role of co-founder and chief technology officer at Lybrate.

The platform, operating as an online out-patient department (OPD), strategically deploys technology to enhance the accessibility of quality healthcare across India. Arora’s mission was to seamlessly connect patients and doctors, transcending geographical constraints. In less than three years, Lybrate has garnered over 1 lakh registered doctors, facilitating upwards of 6 million interactions monthly. These interactions span doctor searches, health queries, and appointments for consultations and lab tests.

The triumph of Lybrate can be attributed to its innovative approach and meticulous planning. Arora underscores the critical importance of aligning the product with the workflow of doctors, fostering positive word-of-mouth recommendations. The nascent stages involved securing funding, with Gokul Rajaram, a luminary in developing Google’s AdSense network, playing a pivotal role. Lybrate secured a seed round of $1.23 million from Nexus Venture Partners, Rajaram, and independent investor Vispi Daver in August 2014. A subsequent funding round in July 2015 saw a commitment of $10.2 million from Tiger Global, Nexus Venture Partners, and Ratan Tata, propelling Lybrate’s mission to new heights.

The healthcare landscape in India presents a formidable challenge, marked by a concerning doctor-patient ratio of 1:1,700, as highlighted by a joint report from KPMG and Ficci. What sets Lybrate apart is its unwavering focus on alleviating the doctor shortage. The platform’s workflow begins with anonymous health-related queries from patients, evolving into online or offline consultations as comfort levels with the doctors on the platform grow.

Lybrate’s distinctive patient engagement model places the patient at the center, offering access to a comprehensive spectrum of healthcare services. This strategic differentiator positions Lybrate favorably against Practo, its major competitor, which primarily functions as a doctor discovery platform. While Practo concentrates on appointment scheduling, Lybrate is committed to transforming the patient-doctor interaction and propelling it into the digital realm.

Despite the myriad challenges, Lybrate has achieved a commendable turnover of over ₹22.45 crore in FY15-16, with aspirations to reach ₹25 crore in the current fiscal year. The platform boasts various revenue streams, including ‘Lybrate Consult,’ allowing users to consult preferred doctors for a fee. ‘Lybrate Lab+’ and ‘Lybrate Cube’ contribute significantly to the company’s revenue by facilitating lab tests and providing tools for doctors to enhance their online presence.

As the health tech industry witnesses an influx of competitors, Lybrate’s early entry into the fray positions it as a frontrunner. However, challenges persist, and success in this dynamic landscape hinges on delivering a substantial value proposition for both patients and doctors. The journey of Rahul Narang and Saurabh Arora with Lybrate symbolizes a commitment to quality and innovation, marking the advent of a new era in online healthcare solutions.

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Abhishek Shah: Revolutionizing Diabetes Care Through Digital Therapeutics

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Abhishek Shah, the 34-year-old CEO of Mumbai-based Wellthy Therapeutics, stands out as an innovator in a world where chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes are becoming more prevalent. With its AI-powered smartphone app that provides a customised health coach experience, Wellthy Therapeutics aims to revolutionise the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The journey of Abhishek Shah, the founding of Wellthy, and the significant influence it has had on patients such as Smruti Daru are all covered in this article.

Abhishek Shah’s foray into healthcare entrepreneurship was inspired by personal experiences. Growing up in a family of healthcare entrepreneurs, with parents diagnosed with chronic diseases, Shah witnessed the challenges of managing conditions like hypertension and diabetes. This exposure laid the foundation for Wellthy Therapeutics, founded in 2015 with the vision of leveraging technology for behavioral change in healthcare.

Wellthy Therapeutics’ mobile app serves as a personal health coach, utilizing AI to analyze patient data and habits. The app provides continuous guidance and motivation for adopting healthier lifestyle choices, crucial for managing type 2 diabetes. For individuals like Smruti Daru, the app has been transformative, helping her achieve significant improvements in glycated haemoglobin levels and weight within a short period.

At the core of Wellthy’s philosophy is an outcome-focused approach. Abhishek Shah emphasizes the importance of improving patient outcomes by addressing behavioral changes. The app guides patients through their daily routines, encouraging them to log diet, monitor sugar levels, track weight, and adhere to exercise routines. This focus on quantifiable outcomes sets Wellthy apart in the realm of digital therapeutics.

Wellthy Therapeutics has garnered recognition and endorsements from major organizations. Partnering with the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI) in 2016, Wellthy became a prescribed application for doctors. The company presented positive clinical outcomes at an American Diabetes Association conference, establishing itself as the first South Asian digital therapeutics firm with such achievements. Understanding the unique cultural nuances of India and Asia, Wellthy tailored its app to cater specifically to the genetic makeup, behavior, and values prevalent in the region. Recognizing that two-thirds of the world’s diabetics reside in Asia, Wellthy’s regional focus positions it strategically in the fight against diabetes.

Abhishek Shah’s commitment to improving healthcare outcomes is reflected in Wellthy’s self-funded growth. Investing around ₹2.9 crore into the venture, Shah prioritized creating a product that genuinely benefited patients. Wellthy’s expansion involves unique partnerships with hospitals, doctors, patients, and insurance companies, laying the groundwork for future growth. With plans to go live in the Middle East later this year, Wellthy envisions achieving a full-fledged presence in Asia within four to five years. The company’s trajectory aligns with its mission to redefine diabetes care through innovative technology and a patient-centric approach.

For Abhishek Shah, the journey of building Wellthy intertwines with the personal milestone of becoming a father. This balancing act, navigating the realms of first-generation entrepreneurship and first-time fatherhood, shattered perceived limitations and unlocked newfound capabilities. Shah’s dedication to his vision has not only transformed his life but has become a source of empowerment for individuals managing diabetes.

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