We met with several of Villgro’s team members, mentors, and incubatees today before flying back to Chennai. Each day, I am even more impressed by what they are doing. It would be amazing to have even 1/10th of the innovative ideas that these people have. They don’t just think of how to build a business; they focus on improving lives. Very cool.
The first start-up was a company that is creating a new way of testing for cervical cancer. They have designed a way of staining the samples so they can be automatically screened for abnormalities. Current tests are ineffective here because they are open to interpretation, and potentially subject to human error. In poor, rural areas, lesser trained medical staff can easily misinterpret results. Or they may not have the resources to run the tests at all. With this new product, they capture an image of the stained sample, and run it through a system that identifies abnormalities automatically. When there are questions, there is a pathologist who can review the results and provide expert guidance. All of this will go towards reducing cervical cancer in women by giving them access to affordable, accurate tests right in their villages.
The second start-up is focused on agriculture. They have created a way to reduce the irrigation requirements by half, and improve the process of fertilizing crops. India gets rain in cycles, which means they swing between times of drought and times of monsoons. Costs for watering crops can easily cripple a farmer’s already struggling budget. The company has developed an automated irrigation system that can detect when water and fertilization is required, rather than running on a set schedule. Imagine the cost savings that a farmer could see, along with the environmental impact for water conservation.
So now you know what I mean about wishing I had some of their innovation talent. It is easy to get so lost in work, I don’t even see the true problem. Imagine being able to see a gap as an opportunity to become an entrepreneur while making life better for those in need. Even more intimidating: they are all quite young yet they have already accomplished so much and contributed more to society than I ever will. I am in awe of each new person I meet. Will definitely be keeping on eye on these companies long after the sabbatical ends because I am excited to see their success.