If one piece together all the stakeholders in the Indian healthcare market, from the patients and doctors to hospitals, research institutions, drug manufacturers and regulatory bodies, one will likely come away with the impression that not all is well.
Firstly, the well-qualified Indian doctor reigns supreme and the country does not have enough of them. Secondly, accessibility to healthcare outside the key urban centres remains a concern, with patients sometimes having to undertake long trips for simple medical procedures. In fact, over the last three years there has been a surge in investor activity, with mergers and acquisitions being the norm as various groups seek to consolidate and manage India’s largest private healthcare chains. A promising prospect however, includes the increasing availability of smartphones and the potential of scaling artificial intelligence. For this promise accounts for the second issue mentioned above.
Today, at Bangalore Insider, we spoke to Dr. Pranjal Mitra, the co-founder of Denta Mitra, an artificial intelligence based mobile app meant for diagnosing Dental diseases in rural India. The company primarily addresses the problems of a lack of knowledge about oral health and hygiene in rural India since India’s systemic infrastructure deficiencies prevent proper screening and dental care of oral diseases.
Below are the excerpts from our interaction.
Give a brief info about your startup?
Denta Mitra is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based oral health tracking mobile app. It enables a person to monitor his or her dental status through an AI based scanner in the app. Denta Mitra also measures and reminds users on oral hygiene periodically. Furthermore the person could connect with nearby dentist and book appointments. Users can also virtually consult dentists by the app. So it’s a virtual dentist who takes care of the user’s oral hygiene from anywhere.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
There is an interesting story about how Denta Mitra came up. I am a Public Health Dentist and also a Professor in a Dental College. Once a patient came to my department in my Dental College with yellow spots in his teeth from a very far off village around 100 kms away. He was worried whether he had cancer or a very serious disease in his teeth. I convinced him it was just stains due to the fluoride in the water which he drinks and it is not so serious. The poor guy had taken leave from work and spent almost his entire day travelling for dental consultation. So, seeing the plight of the person, it occurred to me, what if there was some technology to bring a Virtual dentist home to identify the diseases anytime anywhere and also ensure that people take care of their oral hygiene from time to time.
So, with the help and mentorship of my childhood friend Satyajeet Pradhan who is also a well-recognized techpreneur, Co-founder and CEO of Bizydale Nets, Denta Mitra was born.
Through Denta Mitra, a person can track and detect his oral health condition anytime anywhere. The app also measures daily sweet intake of the user and reminds users of its daily oral hygiene measures. It is also a platform to find and book nearby dentists by location.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I am Dr. Pranjan Mitra , a Public Health Dentist by profession. I completed my Bachelors in Dental Sciences from Bangalore in 2012 and finished my Masters in Public Health Dentistry from Mysore in 2015. I worked as a Lecturer in a Dental College in Gwalior till 2019. Presently I head the Dept. of Public Health Dentistry at a college in Patiala, Punjab. I have been in dental practice for about 8 yrs after my graduation and have guided many Undergraduates and Postgraduate students. I was a recipient of the Indian Health Professional Awards in 2017 for the Category – Excellence in Public Health Dentistry. I have seen the transformation of Dentistry from the age of temporary replacement of teeth to the present era of implants.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
My startup is based in Bangalore. As everybody knows, Bangalore is the silicon valley of India. It is the tech and especially the startup hub of the country. Even being a resident of Bangalore for many years, the start was easy.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
Being a public health dentist, I have been closely associated with oral health care at the grass root level. Over the years I have observed that there are various aspects of oral health care in India which can be improved. People here have little or no understanding on oral health’s impact on overall health and why it is extremely important to maintain oral hygiene. So, I am paranoid about constantly working on those areas for uplifting our oral health care system. This will take a long time but we are on track.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
I am not sure if there are any other startups working on oral health care systems through AI and ML. Virtual Dentists was an unexplored territory which I wished to explore. Denta Mitra is going to revolutionize dental health in India with its unique concept tracking of oral health by the mere touch of one’s smartphones. To Quote Celin Dion –“ I’m not in competition with anybody but myself. My goal is to beat my last performance”
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
Life as an entrepreneur is not hard. It’s challenging. You have to be on your toes all the time and keep your eyes open. I am not much of a thinker. I take one day at a time. I focus more on short goals. I feel if you achieve your smaller targets every day, eventually you will reach your penultimate goal one day. Time management and organized daily routine is the key to everything. I have allotted specific time for specific tasks. I watch movies, exercise, play keyboard, surf on social media and still have time for Denta Mitra. One must set his priorities. Accordingly, one should proceed to achieve it. Rome was not built in a day is a famous adage.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise?
Yes we have raised seed funding of about 15 lakhs from Mr. Prabir Kumar Mitra, myself and Mr. Satyajeet Pradhan. We shall soon start approaching angel investors for our next round.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
I think that most people have a misconception that If a person comes with a startup, he is either rich and or about to become rich. They failed to understand the efforts behind the success and what sacrifices it takes to succeed. The moment I started this startup, my colleagues, friends, relatives had a misconception that I am a dentist and I cannot be an entrepreneur. However the reality is every doctor who runs his own clinic, or provides medical consulting, speaking at a price is also an entrepreneur.
What gets you excited about this company?
Firstly the concept and most importantly the Denta Mitra team excites me and makes me more passionate every day. We have an excellent team starting from marketing, sales to core technology and dental. We are the blend of technology and dentistry to solve oral health issues of India..The ambition to venture into unknown territory and conquer it keeps me charged all day long. The daily brainstorming sessions on product evolution is super fascinating!
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
My daily routine is very common apart from some surprises here and there. I wake up between 6 to 6:30 am. I have my bed tea, freshen up and go for a morning walk and some fresh air. Sometimes stretches in the park in our complex. I come back to the room and then do some exercises and some yoga. The last session is followed by Meditation. I take a refreshing shower and have my breakfast. Then I start my team meeting sessions, daily task schedules and upcoming plans, releases.. In the evening I manage to play keyboard for about an hour to relax and calm myself. I take my dinner early and before leaving for bed I manage to check my daily and next day’s task list along with a few last minute discussions with the team.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
As I already said we have a blend of technology and dentistry. I am incharge of the dental aspect while my well recognized techpreneur childhood friend Satyajeet Pradhan and his team at Bizydale Nets takes care of the business, product, marketing and technology.. Ms.Vrushali Pradhan, co-founder of Bizydale supervises the operations. I and Satyajeet are school batch mates. We used to even sit and study together during our school days. We both did our graduation in Bangalore. When I got the spark of Denta Mitra, I contacted him immediately. We developed the blueprint and the road map over the phone. I met Satyajeet after ages who was also with his wife, business partner Vrushali, and we had our first formal meeting. They are the behind the scene brains behind Denta Mitra.
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