Dr Nayan Kalnad is the CEO and co-founder of Avegen Health, a company that builds patient-facing apps for those living with long-term conditions such as HIV and diabetes.
Avegen Health has created a cloud-based platform, called HealthMachine, that clients can use to design bespoke apps for specific health conditions. The apps are used by over one million patients across 14 countries.
Founded in 2014 by Kalnad and Neeraj Apte, Avegen Health has been bootstrapped since its launch. Kalnad runs the company from its London headquarters, while his co-founder and a large team are based in India.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Kalnad explains why you should delay external fundraising for “as long as possible”, why we should be excited by augmented reality and the job he’d do in another life.
1.What funding advice would you give to a first-time founder?
Nayan Kalnad: If it’s possible, delay raising external funding for as long as possible. This means you can retain control and set your own pace, as you figure out what your company or idea is truly going to need. Figuring out product market fit is really challenging and can take a lot of time and energy.
If you’re caught up in the seemingly endless cycle of raising VC rounds, it can be tricky to carve out the head space you’ll need. Only raise funds when the time is right and you can go into the process with clarity and confidence.
2. What are the best and worst parts of your job?
NK: One of the best parts is the opportunity to work with passionate people who want to make a difference. And then going on to build something together which can impact the lives of millions of people around the world. So far, over one million people with long-term health conditions have downloaded or used the digital health products we’ve helped build; that’s an amazing feeling.
The worst part is once a valued colleague moves on to a new challenge. It can be really hard to say goodbye to someone who’s played a key role in helping get the company to where it is today.
3. How do you prevent burnout?
NK: No one is immune to burnout and there’s no magic formula for preventing it, but there are things I find helpful in keeping burnout at bay. Firstly, I remind myself that I am fallible and that mistakes are opportunities to learn. I also try to get a lot of regular exercise, which helps massively. And, finally, it’s knowing to seek out professional help if things are getting overwhelming.
4. Which nascent technology holds the most promise?
NK: Augmented reality – it will bring the world closer. In healthcare specifically it will lead to novel means of supporting individuals with long term conditions and getting clinical expertise to where it needs to be, quickly and seamlessly.
5. In another life you’d be?
NK: A software developer! My background is clinical and my co-founder Neeraj is the software brains. I’ve built up a strong working understanding of software development and would love to have more time to hone my skills. I think it would have provided a really interesting career path!
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.
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