DBreath: A Student Entrepreneur’s Journey in the Startup Ecosystem
From Mugging up Programs to Developing an App
“In school, I never liked studying programming languages, so much so that I used to memorise programs line-by-line for my computer science exams. But while developing the app for DBreath, I realised that I needed to do more than just write programs from rote memory.”
A student of biomedical engineering, Siddhi first decided to become an entrepreneur when she realised that her project during the master’s course was scalable and beneficial. Tackling each aspect of project development, Siddhi embarked on the road less traveled all by herself. Still a student, it wasn’t possible for her to hire someone to develop the app for her product, and nobody she knew was acquainted with programming language essentials, so she took it upon herself to learn it. “Though learning it wasn’t hard, it took four months out of my schedule. As a startup founder, I wanted to be thoroughly knowledgeable about every aspect of my project.” Bit by bit, she started to put the app together, incorporating all aspects of the hardware into it. Never taking any classes, she developed the app through trial and error, all by herself.
“I had the hardest time getting the product up to certification standards and getting it moving forward. I neither knew about the ISO or other product standards nor about the procedures to get my product there. I was finally able to get in touch with companies in Ahmedabad that helped me out with it. Being a student, I had no connections outside the academic fraternity, which put a lot of snags in my journey with DBreath.” But one advantage that starting early gave her was that there were no deadlines or pressure to get the product up and running. She says that it gave her ample time to experiment on what worked best, and if things didn’t work out, she could always modify and change. Time was on her side.
From Prototypes to Hospital Trials
Getting incubated at GUSEC in October 2018 sped things up for Siddhi in terms of resources that helped her develop the prototype and other startup founders who gave her tips about the operational aspects of the business. She mentions that interacting with people of the academic or healthcare community was not hard, but dealing with vendors was. “Vendors would always look at me like I didn’t know what I was talking about, or like I didn’t know what I wanted,” Siddhi says. When asked how she dealt with them, her answer was an inspiring one. “The way to go about is keeping your objective in mind. Plus, not everyone is worth paying attention to.”
From someone who claims to be terrible at public speaking, Siddhi has done really well as a leader and a startup founder. From getting her product to a functional stage all alone to getting together a team and ensuring their productivity during the lockdown, her admirable persistence has now put DBreath in the hospital trial stage.
Talking about the startup ecosystem, Siddhi says that getting incubated at GUSEC has given her many insights into many aspects of the startup business, from availing government grants to conducting effective market research and building scalable business models. “But for me, the most memorable part of being at GUSEC was getting to know the individual journeys of other startup founders, and how they achieved what they never thought was possible. It was during one of these discussion sessions that I realised a loophole in the pricing strategy I had in place.”
When I ask her whether she thinks about what she’ll do in case things don’t work out, she says that she already has a Plan B. “I don’t know what will go down when we actually launch the product in the market, but until then, I will wake up every morning with the goal of working on my dream.”
Why do we fall, Bruce?
Siddhi inspires courage and perseverance, especially to all those who dare to dream, all those who dare to pursue the road not taken. Come to think of it, not many of us chance upon deadbeat roads and routes anymore. It is only when you go out looking for an adventure do you find one. Sure, it could be riddled with all the dangerous perils you can imagine, and maybe you will trip over or hurt yourself. But as all Nolan fans will tell you, we only fall, so we can learn to pick ourselves up.