Student Media Body of IIT Kgp


KYE: PregBuddy

Posted on Sept 9, 2018


In the era of entrepreneurship and startups, Awaaz, IIT Kharagpur sees it as its duty to share some of the successful startup stories related to IIT Kharagpur. Eleventh in the series we present to you the story of PregBuddy. We happened to get a chance to talk with Subhadeep Mondal, Co-founder & CEO of PregBuddy. He has also been a speaker and a panellist at several national & international conferences. PregBuddy is a health tech startup by IIT alumni. Their mission is to make care accessible, fast and reassuring for all.

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Q1. What was your motivation behind creating PregBuddy and how is it helping the Indian moms?

Answer: We got the motivation when one of our co-founders’ cousin underwent a miscarriage in her fourth month of pregnancy. In a nuclear family which usually comprises of husband and wife, the wife undergoes through a lot of psychological stress which she can't share it with other people and also there are not a lot of people to support. That is why we started exploring this idea. One and half year back, we started talking to expecting mothers across different hospitals in Bangalore that is when we figured out a very common problem for expecting mothers especially those who are in a nuclear family. From then, we are on a wonderful journey so far reaching over 55000 expecting mothers across India and abroad.

Usually moms and expecting mothers look for reassurances like they have questions about the diet that they should take, physical changes that may happen or symptoms that may occur, etc. during the pregnancy period. Also, the doctors are not accessible every now and then. It is difficult for expecting mothers to go outside and ask each and every question. They generally go online and search for various questions that they want to know but that may confuse them even more so through PregBuddy we try to answer in the best way possible. We also connect expecting mothers together based on a language location. The expecting mothers ask different questions and answer among themselves which also provides them with a deep reassurance and confidence while having a talk with each other. So that's all how we are helping them so far.

Q2. Most of the startups face many problems during the starting days, so what were the problems that came your way of establishing PregBuddy and what you learnt from this experiences?

Answer: The first thing I learnt from my experience is that if you have any idea then try to validate that idea even before building the product. So the way we validated our idea was by initially creating a WhatsApp group of mothers. We met 200-250 expecting mothers across Bangalore, connected them and saw how they are interacting, what they are asking which greatly helped us in understanding the requirements of the product. During the validation of your idea try to be as economical as possible so that you don't burnt out your whole initial equity during this process.

The second important thing is to talk to as many people as you can. No one steals your idea. There is a myth around that people may steal your idea but the more you share with people the more perspectives you get. No one is as passionate as you are to solve that particular problem, hence be free to share, get perspective from different people.

The third is during your journey try to connect with the people who have prior experience in the entrepreneurial or corporate world. Make them your mentors as their experience and knowledge about the industry will greatly help in solving the problems.

There were a lot of challenges like market condition but the major challenge was the mindset of people. The major learning, we have is that most of the men do not understand a women's health because there is no education regarding women's health. We have sex education which is about reproductive system, in school and that is all. Men are unaware of the various changes woman undergoes during and post pregnancy period. These are the problems to which men cannot relate.

Q3. How did you form your team at PregBuddy?

Answer: You cannot hunt for a co-founder; you should know each other. Before starting we knew each other’s quite well. Sivareena and I are from the same college, from IIT Kharagpur itself. We used to work in a couple of organisations. We started something called Public Relations cell under the deans of IIT Kharagpur, now called BARC (Branding and Relations Cell) and IR (International Relations) cell. Yash and I met actually when we were building another startup during our college days. We know each other quite well because we have built things together and we both are aware of each other’s strengths, weaknesses and how we can complement each other in terms of quality. This is extremely important for a rising team.

Q4. What are the future plans and how much is it challenging to change the mindset of people?

Answer: We're not here to change human behavior but there are two things we want to take care of; first is the health of expecting mothers who are not getting any support and the second is how we can figure out ways to build up a community of expecting fathers and see how we can support them to support their wives. We will try to focus on how we can do it in future but the mindset is something you can't change easily. Like for Flipkart, it took close to 10 years to change the mindset of people to shop online and initially they had to spend a lot of money in achieving the trust of people to come online to shop. Another example, Akshay Kumar in his movie ‘Padman’ which was based on sanitary napkins reflected a few things like people generally don't talk about this although it is very natural for women and they don't understand various challenges a woman goes through and pregnancy is well much more elevated. Hence, I think it is hard to change the mindset but it changes with awareness. We are trying to make sure that we empower the women so that they take correct decision for them and their baby which will be very beneficial for both mother and the baby and gradually we will empower the father to help the family so that they can take correct decisions for the family and for their baby.

In the future, we want to have around 1 million expecting mothers on our platform by 2020. We look forward to doing that.

Q5.How challenging was it for you to start something new while simultaneously working as a Product and Growth Lead in SignEasy?

Answer: I want to give a simple example like even in college you have to manage time between classes and various other activities, sometimes you have to study and sometimes you also have to participate in various extracurricular activities. Same goes for a startup, you allot certain time for things you like and some skill you want to learn. So, usually when a person comes across an idea and he/she becomes really passionate about it, they allot a small amount of time every day or every week to explore the idea more and more and that’s how we have started. It took us 6 months before building the product to identify the problems. We went and meet people, connected the mothers on WhatsApp and let it run for a few months to identify problems that they were facing. That is how you do.

Q6. What was the role of IIT Kharagpur in developing you as a person and as an entrepreneur?

Answer: I was in the Biotechnology department. In the third year, I went to UC Berkeley which is one of the top Universities in the world. I worked there as a summer intern for a couple of months. But when I came back, I realized that is not what I want to do. Post that I started my own startup once I came back from the internship.

I think KGP is a great place to learn from the talent out there and seniors, to collaborate and build something together. Secondly, there are a lot of opportunities out there, you need to get out of your room explore them by working in different societies and hone your skills. Over time you will realize what you are good at.

Q7. You have been a speaker and a panelist at several national & international conferences. What advice would you give to the students to improve their communication skills?

Answer:Participate in various activities going on inside IIT Kharagpur. It helps to improve your communication skills. When you are working together as a team with other people, you need to learn to communicate to them whether it is a thought or a new idea, over time it will help you to communicate and express yourself clearly. Eventually, at the end of your 4th or 5th year, you will be much better in talking to people. What is required is to just come out of your room and talking to people and building something together in society or hall and just keep doing this over and over. More you speak to other people and other team members, the more confident you get and improve your communication skills.

Q8. What was your vision and focus areas behind establishing the Public Relations Cell of IIT Kharagpur?

Answer: When Sivareena and I started it, our mission was simple. We wanted to create a centralised platform that highlights the achievements, cultural heritage of our campus, talents of our stakeholders which is our students, alumni and professors. We wanted to improve the visibility of these three main stakeholders of our campus to the outside world. That could only happen when we create a centralised channel that collects information from students, alumni and professors and then pass it on to the entire media houses. The way we started was by creating our official Facebook page, Twitter page and YouTube channel.

Our target was also to make sure that the potentially talented students select IIT Kharagpur as their topmost priority after JEE.

Q9.What messages would you like to give to budding entrepreneurs out there and all the bright young minds of KGP?

Answer: For budding entrepreneurs, I would suggest - get your product validation done in a most economical way and get a mentor who can help you grow. Usually entrepreneurship journey is a very lonely one, but if you have a helping hand who can help you grow it helps you a lot both mentally and also workwise. A good part of IIT Kharagpur is that there are people who are always ready to help but the only thing we need to do is to ask. So feel free to ask people and don't be shy about that. If you think you are good at something and want to hone your skills, then reach out to potential IIT Kharagpur community and see if you can work together and improve your skills.

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