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AI startup Shubu.ai led by IITians raises $1 m

To build a voice-based assistant for doctors

Shubu.ai, a Bengaluru-based artificial intelligence (AI) enterprise, has raised $1 million from a prominent health-tech investor. Shubu.ai is an accurate voice-based assistant developed focused on doctors and medical practitioners. The cloud-based, AI-driven application simplifies the documentation workload for doctors as well as assists in other administrative tasks.

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The app was developed by a group of IIT Kharagpur alumni including Founder & CEO, Amar Kumar Dani, Vinay Phadnis, Co-founder and CTO, Anuj Mokashi, COO and Co-Founder.

“It all started when I was in the US pursuing my master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University and for paying off my education loan, I used to do some freelancing work. Luckily, I got an interesting Machine Learning and Big Data project from an Australian startup, that’s when the idea of becoming an entrepreneur popped up in my mind. The idea behind this application was to optimise marketing in bigger organisations through data analysis. After that, I worked on various ideas, none of which took off but in hindsight, the failures laid the foundation for building Shubu.ai.” 

”I have always worked in start-ups and I felt that start-ups were always a great avenue to explore the creativity within oneself and challenge oneself to go beyond their capability,” Dani quoted when asked about the challenges he faced while bootstrapping Shubu.ai.

“I used to work with various people on a part-time basis. During one of these experiments of mine, I met Vinay and then floated the idea of Shubu with him. Both my colleagues Phadnis and Mokashi are technically very sound and had worked at various startups before meeting me. When I asked them if they could build a prototype for Shubu in a week, they were excited and finished the experiment well on time. Hence Shubu got their co-founders on the journey.”

Dani was later accompanied by his dad Ajay Kumar Dani as a mentor and worked closely with the team.

When asked about real-time transcription and its uses across different industries, Dani was clear – the focus was always on healthcare. 

“Before Shubu, I had started working on an AI-driven appointment management application, but over time, working with doctors, I realised that doctors, on one hand, are so educated, and on the other hand they are tech-averse since they are so engaged with solving patients’ problems and don’t have sufficient time to use such complicated applications which haven’t been built keeping the doctors into consideration. So, we decided to make something simple and user-friendly for them. We also observed that they do not like typing due to which a lot of patient data is not captured correctly. Hence, we decided to build a voice-based application that can understand medical terminology and different accents very accurately,” Dani added.

As per studies, usage of technology in healthcare is less matured in India compared to the other industries presents a huge opportunity. However, Shubu.ai is also planning to build voice-first applications in other domains.

Shubu.ai was selected in an HealthTech incubator programme wherein the team got introduced to Dr Prasanna Venkatesh of NU Hospitals, Bengaluru.

“He immediately saw the potential in the product idea for the medical fraternity and gave us the challenge to build it in a month. Even during the COVID times, the team was courageous enough to take up the challenge and in a month we completed the Minimum Viable Product which was performing beyond our expectations,” Dani quoted.

“Then we started approaching other funds to invest in the product. It was then that Dr Prasanna introduced us to other prominent HealthTech investors. Everything happened in a short period and hindsight, I believe it was the perseverance of not giving up despite several failures that led to such rapid traction for Shubu.”

After the funding round of $1 million, the company is planning to expand product and marketing teams across India.

Talking about the plans to launch Shubu.ai across markets, Amar quoted, COVID has changed the mentality of people and now they realise that technology is not just a support function in healthcare but a transformational force which will enable us to go digital and fundamentally improve the healthcare delivery across the nation. Getting doctors to adopt the solution is the challenge ahead of us but everyone we have met agrees that this is the future.”

The company is now working to get more and more doctors to adopt the solution, get their feedback and achieve product-market fit.

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