Wello By Azoi (www.azoi.com)

Past life

Hamish Patel teamed up with his long-time friend Juned Munshi in 2011 to launch Azoi Mobile Technologies Pvt. Ltd. They began by introducing gesture recognition for home entertainment devices, enabling people to communicate and interact with the machine without any mechanical device. Earlier in 2009, Patel had set up a proprietary firm for research in consumer electronics.

Patel, 28, Azoi’s CEO, and Munshi, 25, its head of product, are both engineers and had worked together earlier. In founding Azoi, they were joined by Ami Karnik, who was a senior associate with Lok Capital, an India-focused venture capital fund, in New Delhi and had focused on building its healthcare portfolio. Karnik, 31, had earlier worked with Goldman Sachs in San Francisco. “I was interested in the healthcare sector, but wanted to be on the other side and build something that would make an impact. Azoi gave me an opportunity to do that," she says.

Eureka moment

(From left) Ami Karnik, Juned Munshi and Hamish Patel at their lab in Ahmedabad. Photo: Jaydip Bhatt/ Mint
(From left) Ami Karnik, Juned Munshi and Hamish Patel at their lab in Ahmedabad. Photo: Jaydip Bhatt/ Mint

“Health problems often go undetected because people don’t have information about their health. Often it’s too late to address these issues. That’s why we decided to work in this area to find a solution," says Patel, who has just been named an INK fellow, joining a global and cross-disciplinary community of path-breakers.

Genesis

According to the World Health Organization, heart disease is the No.1 cause of death worldwide, hypertension afflicts nearly a billion people globally and 347 million people have diabetes. “With simple, regular monitoring of health data, people can be better equipped to identify potential issues and seek advice before they fall seriously ill," says Patel.

Azoi aims to make healthcare monitoring simple and accessible by placing tools in the hands of consumers that will let them reliably monitor vital signs.

Wello, an innovative health tracker that doubles as a mobile phone case, is their first product. It took two years of research before Azoi could put the product out in the market for pre-order earlier this year. From the very outset, the founders were aware that their biggest market would be the US, so it made sense to register the company there.

Wello has sensors that can measure key vital signs. You simply have to hold the case, and the hidden sensors begin testing. This information is then passed on to an app that’s synced to your iPhone. Wello also has an app for Android users—but one has to use it as a stand-alone device. Not only does it allow you to get an idea about your health status instantly, it enables you to see patterns over time that can help you manage your lifestyle better.

Since 2011, the company has grown to a team of 50, and apart from a research and development centre in Ahmedabad, has an office in Gurgaon, near the Capital, and in San Francisco.

Azoi initially raised seed funding from India-based angel investors Pallav Nadhani and Abhishek Gupta of Seeders, Aloke Bajpai of ixigo and the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. It raised another round of funding from US-based investors later.

Reality check

The device is currently designed to suit iPhone users. Switching to Android isn’t as simple since the device cannot double as a cover for Android phones. Also, the price is an issue for a country like India. During pre-order, the device was was priced at $199 (around 12,000). Patel is optimistic that the price will dip once volumes increase.

Secret sauce

A unique and seamless design and a very unique algorithm are the major strengths of the product. The product designing was done by a team from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. Wello is easy and simple to use and is cheaper than other devices that help keep a tab on vital signs.

Plan B

They have no Plan B. “We are optimistic, especially after the response we got to our pre-orders. We will go for upgrades or changes in future based on the feedback we get," says Patel.

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