Technological innovations have played a pivotal role in shaping female entrepreneurship in India. Not just that women are creating breakthrough products using machine learning, and solving for important healthcare challenges. At the Digital Women Awards 2020, organised by the SheThePeople.TV, we put the spotlight on women turning to product-driven, Internet of Things (IoT) systems for their entrepreneurial ventures in a discussion entitled “Product Future: Internet of Things”.
The panellists for the discussion included ecosystem names like Ranjana Nair, co-founder of Ray IoT Solutions; Jeet Vijayvargiya, CEO of Meity Startup Hub; Shaili Chopra, founder of SheThePeople; Dr Geetha Manjunath, co-founder of Niramai Health Analytics; and Pallavi Tak from CIIE, part of IIM-A. The conversation was moderated by Yamini Pustake Bhalerao.
IoT Boost for Healthcare Advances
Today’s women entrepreneurs are using technology to address some pertinent healthcare concerns, especially for women. Dr. Manjunath elaborated upon how her venture Niramai Health Analytics devised an alternative to mammography as a means of detecting breast cancer: “We just measure the temperature variations on the chest using accurate thermal sensors and build an artificial intelligence model that serves as an end-to-end, automated solution to detecting breast cancer. This eliminates radiation and personal contact. Technology helps ensure the accuracy of the solution.” Dr Manjunath opined that women entrepreneurs are more adept at developing solutions for women’s healthcare concerns as they understand the issues better.
Ranjana Nair also explained the role of technology in developing her award-winning product Ray Baby. “ It’s a monitoring device that tracks breathing rate to predict any health concerns,” she said. Ranjana continued, “We have also come up with a new monitoring device that tells whether a person infected with COVID-19 should be admitted to the hospital.”
How Women Technopreneurs Overcome Obstacles
Many female entrepreneurs possess viable business ideas but face a lack of opportunities to execute them. Recalling how she had to face numerous hurdles while launching her venture, Ranjana said, “Back in the day, women entrepreneurs in the field of hardware were unheard of. We had to initially get foreign investors on board as we could not get investors from India to invest at the onset. Now, at least in the field of IoT, a lot of development is happening.”
What’s the Next Milestone?
Talking about the initiatives that aim to aid Indian women technopreneurs, Jeet Vijayvargiya said, “ We at Meity Startup Hub have set up 50 incubation centres in India to promote IT and electronics-based start-ups, 22 centres of excellences focused on emerging technologies, and we run various challenges that aim to identify solutions to national problems.” Jeet also specified that his organisation aims to develop “more targeted, disciplined, and focused programmes”, to encourage female entrepreneurs in India.
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Shaili Chopra drew attention to the need for an incubator that combines tools and support systems as well as reminds women that they can truly enable and be a part of the tech field. Providing pivotal and detailed insights into how women entrepreneurial ventures use technology, Pallavi Tak commented, “ When it comes to women entrepreneurs, technology is used in the developmental processes to create an impact. Women can work from home and still create an impact.” She also described technology as a catalyst for increasing inclusivity for female entrepreneurs.
The future of women technopreneurs was encapsulated by Jeet in the following words: “We have to build that confidence in every little girl, every little entrepreneur and tell them that they can do it and become the next rockstars.”
Tarini Gandhiok is an intern with SheThePeople.TV