Shashvat Tripathi: Entrepreneurship, BITS, and Health Tech
Shashvat Tripathi (Pilani, '16) is the Co-Founder and CTO at Visit, a health-tech platform enabling small/medium/large corporates to design and offer customized Wellness and OPD programs. He has also been listed in Forbes 30 under 30. We’re thrilled to talk to Mr Tripathi as he takes us through his journey of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Why did you choose to build a startup over sitting for placements?
I was fortunate to meet some fantastic seniors the first week on campus. We discussed and debated various startups and technologies of the day, and I would later find out that there was a student-run club called CEL, which was into everything that excited me about technology and software development. We had a vibrant culture of inviting students to participate in events that exposed them to on and off-campus startups and their founders through events like Conquest, Founder Dating, Desert Hack, and weekly ANC sessions on random Techcrunch articles! Having interned at various startups even before starting my 3rd year, I enjoyed working on vague and open-ended problem statements more than on rigid/binary questions. Besides, I had unwavering support from my parents, which gave me confidence.
How did you get the idea for the Visit?
I remember shutting down MedsOnline - an online pharmacy that two friends and I had started a few months before our 7th semester ended. I wasn’t in a perfect state of mind and spent most of my time in the CEL room. I would discuss various ideas and plans on what I would do shortly with my fellow CELites and co-founders, Anurag and Chetan. Anurag had shut his online real estate startup the year before and was full of new ideas. We discussed many ideas with Chetan and Vaibhav during the Holi break. There was an outbreak of Swine Flu across India, although no cases were identified on our campus. The realization dawned on us that even on the campus of such an esteemed institute, quality doctors were inaccessible to all of us! What started off as a way to connect a doctor to someone who needed a quick consultation led us to work on various small features centered around providing teleconsultations.
In a country like India, where there is so much prejudice against mental illnesses, Visit lets users consult psychologists. Why do you think this is so important?
I think the prejudice and stigma around therapy have significantly reduced over the last decade. Of course, we still have a long way ahead of us, vis a vis trying to normalize talking about our emotional challenges with certified professionals. Being able to speak to a professional from the comfort and privacy of one’s home, office, taxi, or any place one would be is a big deal. It allowed people who needed help to seek it privately and get expert help. The efficiencies of not having to travel to the clinic and suffering the long waiting times made the entire process so much better.
There’s also the fact that smaller towns don’t have many psychologists and psychiatrists, so it helped bring the cost down for people who wanted to consult professionals from another city or town.
What was the key takeaway from your time working for the publicity of Oasis, BITS Pilani’s cultural fest?
Oasis is one of India's largest student-run college fests, and the students on the organizing committee learned everything on the job. I could name a dozen soft and hard skills I picked up in 3-4 years of working with PCr. However, the one thing that genuinely trumps all is that it helped push all of us to do things we had never done. The unrealistic deadlines started seeming achievable only after months of consistent work and effort by the entire team. We started working, knowing it’d be fun; the fun part made everything else very easy.
We all know you were listed in Forbes 30 Under 30; what is another achievement, milestone, or award you would like to achieve?
I feel motivated and proud of working with some of the best people, missionaries in my opinion, who are attacking a complicated problem such as Health, from all angles, trying to improve every single day with integrity and empathy that is much needed in today’s world.
What is one piece of advice you have followed throughout your journey and would like to pass on to budding entrepreneurs?
Taking small steps every single day. Challenging yourself just a little bit more than what you think is possible, but doing that consistently and every day, is the key. It will take a fair bit of time to figure out what you want, but you won’t know what you like or don’t like unless you try it out. So just jump right in!
What are skills that you think students could grow in themselves?
For me, it was learning to write code and design apps. I enjoyed developing apps and websites that would be of some use to someone, be it myself, or my club in college or just an exercise to solve a problem. I enjoyed reading, and would occasionally try writing on Quora, Yahoo Answers or other forums. I wish I had done that a little more though!
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