Vivek Kopparthi is the Co-Founder and CEO of NeoLight, a healthcare technology company that works around empathy-driven solutions. In this interview, he traces the origins of the unique concept, how the company plans to reach out to countries like India with its innovative models and some top tips for other healthcare entrepreneurs in the making.
How did NeoLight come about and what has its journey been like so far
NeoLight started off over a dinner conversation about world plaguing problems with my co-founder Siva back when we were room-mates whilst pursuing our graduate degrees at Arizona State University. The journey - oh god, it was enthralling. I did not even know or dream about where we are now, a few years ago. I started the company hoping it would quench the hunger I had... instead it only quadrupled. I am hungrier now than ever before.
What are the kind of innovations you see coming up within the field of health-tech, in the context of your own company
and the internet enable consumers to have more buying power and empower them to ask bolder questions. In my life of business, some of the most common questions are: Why cannot you treat Jaundice at home; Why does it take so much time to treat Jaundice
that we are coming up with, and the market demands are the same - smart, integrated technologies that let a baby go home faster, that enable connectivity between home and hospital, that enable seamless parallel treatment rather than tandem treatments.
Please give some background to the reach of your products; is India among the many countries they are aimed at
Our technologies have a global scale - we are currently in a limited market release phase, operating in the southwest
right now, testing our manufacturing, scaling and supply chain operations. Very soon, we will launch globally.
Of course, India is amongst the countries. My heart yearns to bring it to home. Especially because Jaundice mortalities are very dense but easily solvable in India. For example, 66 per cent of all Jaundice casualties occur in Assam, primarily because of lack of stable power - our technologies can work on solar power or a battery, making rurality never a disadvantage.
Do you feel India is fully embracing the concept of technology within the healthcare sector
Not yet. There is so much for us to grow into, so much for us to change. My disappointment starts with the billing modality we use - there is hardly any incentive for a doctor/hospital to discharge a patient as early as possible, as soon as possible. This is such an impediment to care, to innovation and to progress. We are not alone - while several countries have the same problem, most of them have realised this and currently are focused on solving this. But in India, most of us don't even know this is a problem.
India was a price-elastic market - frugal and cost-effective technologies enter the market faster than innovation. Now, the tide is shifting - globally educated physicians, internet enabled patients and the driving force of competition is changing focus from a cost-game to a technology game.
What are some of your top tips for tech entrepreneurs planning on exploring this field
Firstly, know that healthcare is hard - it isn't for everyone. Stringent regulations, scarce funding, behemoth competitors, and large commercialisation barriers make it a very difficult market to crack. But it is important that you, as an innovator as successful. Because the way it is now, the system isn't working. Like a soldier, however hard the field is, don't give up; acknowledge and work around these obstacles but be at it.
Focus on progress and before you do that, prioritise. Most entrepreneurs suffer from the shiny-object syndrome - a plague that will consume you before even you know it. Compartmentalisation and prioritisation will definitely help - there is a science to this. Look up books on how to prioritise your tasks. Also, having an advisory or a corporate board helps - accountability and performance evaluation will significantly help you focus.
Don't just be an optimist but also a realist. Optimism, passion and excitement could sometimes cloud the realist in us. I get carried away too - which is why I sleep on an important decision before I confirm on it.
Most importantly, remember to have fun. Always be in the pursuit of happiness.