Neuphony Defines Innovation, Inspires Budding Entrepreneurs
In the backdrop of pandemic, many people have suffered with the mental health issues in the past two years. There is a stigma associated with the mental health that people tend to avoid going to the doctors and meeting therapists. Visiting a mental health professional or a doctor is more difficult in countries like India where sections of conservative and illiterate society react differently to the one suffering from mental health issues.
In a quest to resolve the issue of stigma as well as inspiring the budding entrepreneurs in India, PankhTech—a technology start-up has come up with a device which it claims to be Asia’s first brain wearable device--measuring brain activity in real-time. The Device collects data and provides insights of a mind, revealing the potential of an individual.
Neuphony--manufactured by PankhTech has been packed with eight non-instructive sensors that map every vital part of the brain to monitor the stress level of an individual.
Sharing details about the innovation, Co-Founder Ria Rustagi said that Neuphony helps in unlocking the true potential of the brain.
“Neuphony monitors your stress levels. This product uses electroencephalography (EEG) technology in a very fashionable wearable headband. It converts that EEG data automatically into user understandable format so that a common person who has no knowledge of EEG can also understand the brain activity,” Ria told Opportunity India.
Neuphony has been made to monitor mental health of a person so that essential steps can be taken to improve that. PankhTech had launched the product as early sales in 2020 in the market with 30-40 people across six countries purchase the product and tested it.
“These people have tested the product and gave us a feedback.We have already gone through first round of iterations and updations and now we are setting up the commercial version of the product. The product is being sold on our website and we are also doing the B2B collaboration,” she said.
The company has worked with prominent institutions like Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), and couple of IITs.
“These institutes have observed that our data is valid and authentic and that’s why they work with us. If we talk about consumers, then they are using it across the globe. Physiotherapists in India are using it. Canadian start-ups who are building software based on our hardware for psychotherapy are also using this,” Ria mentioned.
“We are cloud platform and you can show your data to a neurologist abroad while you are sitting in India and you can take therapy on the basis of your mental data,” she said.
Talking about the partnership of the business,Ria said that the company has entered into a partnership with a UK-based firm and a Mumbai based-application named celebrity app.
“We entering into these strategic partnerships so that our device sells automatically,” the co-founder of the company said.
Ria has done her B.Tech from India and completed her Master’s degree from Germany. She says that rolling out this product was a idea inspired by her personal loss. Her sister Pankhuri Rustagi was diagnosed with Meningitis infection leading to death.
“My sister was diagnosed with Meningitis very late and she was admitted to stroke ICU and lost her cognisance within a week and got paralysed. She was in semi-coma condition. Unfortunately she passed away in November 2016 after most of the drugs had stopped working,” she said.
“She passed away and and I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PPST) in Germany where I was pursuing my Masters degree. When she was in the hospital and was unable to talk, I could only wishthere was some technique to hack into her brain to know what she was going through. My husband wanted to pursue something in EEG and I shared the idea with him. We designed the product in Germany and manufactured it in India. That’s how it all started,” she added.
She said that while starting their company, they distributed the work of manufacturing. They collaborated with various units who helped them create the parts of the product like plastic and other things.
“We got in touch with a manufacturer who created injection moulds. He does the plastic part and then we got electronics from somewhere else and assembled the product ourselves. Now assembly work is being done through third-party,” Ria said.
The company was a bootstrapped until last October but it has now raised seed fund from Durbie foundation and its ventures IIM Ahmadabad and venture centre Pune.
Mentioning the further round of fund raiser and its future plans, Ria said that she wanted to help people who happened to be bed ridden and were unable to convey their thoughts and for that the company is planning to raise the bridge funding in March next year.
“The goal is to help bed ridden people communicate with their family. If somebody is in hospital and cannot talk, I want thought recognition to be out there so that it can help people. As an early stage start-up, we want to raise another bridge round. We raised INR 2.5 Cr in March and hopefully by next March we will be raising INR 8-9 Cr as a bridge round or a pre series A round,” Ria told Opportunity India.
She further added, “The proceeds of the funding will be used to manufacture a next level product which is more compact. For now the product has eight sensors and now I want to know which are really important and want to create much smaller product somewhere between INR 10,000-15,000 which costs nearly INR 50,000 these days.”
“I want to create a device which is more sleek and classy. It took me INR 1 crore of my bootstrapped to create this product and INR 2.5 crore to launch it. With that amount of INR eight to nine crore, I want to spent 2.5 crore on the product which is world class and at that time we will focus on scaling the company,” she added.
As the device is a little expensive for the common people who cannot afford that product, PankhTech has come up with a new business model through which they are open to collaborate with institutions like wellness centre and clinics where they can set up a booth for the taking the services of the device so that an individual can collect data and take therapy from any health centre.
“We are launching Neuphony pods. Anyone can come to our office in NOIDA (Sector 62) take a Neuphony session after paying a minimal amount. We are not providing the services. It is just our business model that any wellness centre or clinic can approach us for setting up Neuphony pod at their office and they can charge people for the service. We will just set up a pod at their office,” Ria said.
On asking about the collaboration with edtech start-ups while having this amazing device which can determine the potential of people including children, Ria said that she believes that it is not good to compare kids and they should choose what they want to pursue on their own.
“As business person we never say never for a sale. We always go forward and explore synergies. I am open to it if any company comes and tells me that they want to set up a model, I will be open for it but my personal opinion is that it’s not good to compare kids,” she said.
“Neuphony works on a machine learning model where we don’t compare a person with another one but we compare people with today and tomorrow. Neuphony provides very confidential data and I think parents should have access to data and score but not the edtech companies,” she added.