(The one where this blogger overdosed on coffee and had an honest-to-Merlin round table conference)

Blog by Aishwarya Meenakshi

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i: Group photo!

After the high of the Branding Session in August, the Headstart Navi Mumbai Team decided to take on the Titans that are the HealthTech startups. Joining us on the blissfully sunny afternoon of 15th October were:

The Kleinetics session, conducted by co-founders Dr. Tejal Kanwar and Mohit Sahni, showcased a detailed, well-researched plan aimed solely at improving kids’ fitness & warmed my cold heart. (Along with Coffee #1). They spoke of abysmal fitness levels in schools, lack of training and specializations for different sports and quoted various studies to back up their claims. Some of those studies were as recent as the Rio Olympics.

The follow up was an intensive section of proposals to improve overall fitness. They are a team of professionals from various fields – doctors, trainers, corporate professionals, etc. that have come together to provide a fitness program with a scientific backbone. A surprisingly conference-ish twist to playground shenanigans.

It was an abrupt throwback to schooldays where I couldn’t for the life of me catch a single ball. (I had a delightful PE teacher named Mr Brown, with brown hair, brown eyes and a twirly brown moustache. Thank you for reminding me, universe.)

After a volley of questions where their revenue model, competition and scaling was discussed, the session timed-out.

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ii: Mohit and Dr. Tejal presenting on Kleinetics

Dr. Supriya Shinde, co-founder of TechChikitsa, then picked up the baton. She spoke of the inspiration behind TechChikitsa and her experience with healthcare demographics. She observed that urban areas are choking with options, highly in contrast with rural healthcare options.

TechChikitsa aims to provide affordable healthcare, especially in rural areas, with the aid of technology. They have developed a web based application to connect doctors and patients, so as to improve accessibility to healthcare. The application also comes with visit reminders and follow-ups.

Her experience with the healthcare system, and the conceptualization and current status of TechChikitsa were discussed in the subsequent Q&A with the audience.

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iii: Dr. Supriya, Co-founder, TechChikitsa

After a short networking session (and Coffee #2 for me) the dais belonged to Vishal Vinod, Operations, Saral Designs. He emphasized on the current status of menstrual hygiene in India, and its direct impact on education.

A detailed explanation of their revenue model followed – lowering production costs [via disruptive scale and compact machines.] and distribution costs [via local and focussed sales.], enriched with examples of the women they had met with and supported.

They provide affordable menstrual hygiene products – ‘Aisha’, an ultra-thin sanitary napkin and ‘Suvidha’, a sanitary napkin vending machine designed to be installed in toilets of schools, colleges, factories, etc.

Their team also visits schools and the under-privileged to spread awareness regarding menstrual hygiene. On a topic such as menstrual health, their team is rather proud to have a high male-female ratio – and it is indeed refreshing to see men being aware of and initiating conversations around a traditionally stigmatised topic.

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iv: Vishal from Saral Designs presenting during his session

As we began to set things up for the panel discussion- Coffee With Aishwarya – Sonali Mehta and Anika Mehta, Co-Founders of the ‘Kuch Karo Project’ gave a short featured talk and graciously agreed to sit on my panel. I have never ever been more grateful for my habit of taking copious amounts of notes.

The ‘Kuch Karo Project’ is a US based organization that aims to create a culture of volunteering in India – mentoring students with different levels of volunteering experience and utilizing existing social media habits to bring volunteering to the public arena.

It is to be noted that this was their first launch pitch in India.

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v: Coffee with Aishwarya – furious gesturing and endless coffee

We rearranged the panel into an actual round table conference (minus the table.) to include members of the audience as well. Fortunately for us, it was much more coherent than a US Presidential debate! 😉

After a dangerous tilt into funding and the education system, I – the Moderator – veered the conversation into mental health. Sonali and Anika picked the baton with a vengeance not unlike Darth Vader chasing Obi Wan – and spoke of their volunteering experience.

The ‘Padukone effect’ on depression awareness was invoked, along with the Live Love Laugh foundation and the impact it has had by simply opening an avenue of communication for those who need assistance.

Dr. Supriya spoke of her time with women in Red Light districts, how hard it was to gain their trust and even establish a line of communication with them. Her awe and respect for them shone through as she talked of all the time that she had spent with them.

Vishal credited the founders of Saral Designs with the zest required to create awareness and promote their vending machines and affordable sanitary napkins. He revealed that they would play ‘Chinese Whispers’ to demonstrate that words passed along in secrecy would inevitably get jumbled up at the end of the line – similar to the ‘secrecy’ that shrouds menstrual hygiene. (What an Awesome idea!!!)

We discussed the importance of a simple smile, establishing trust & role of networking to build a base of customers and personnel. I also had my final cup of coffee (#noRegrets).

It was gratifying to see the Navi Mumbai entrepreneurs being engaged and involved in the HealthTech industry. The evening concluded soon thereafter while cards were exchanged and compliments paid.

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vi: Dr. Tejal Kanwar being felicitated by Bikash from Headstart

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vii: Gaurav from Headstart felicitating Mohit Sahni

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viii: Aishwarya from Headstart (yours truly) felicitating Anika Mehta and Sonali Mehta

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ix: Smedha Sarkar, City Lead of Headstart Navi Mumbai felicitating Dr Supriya Shinde

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x: Paras from Headstart felicitating Vishal Vinod