Meet the 5 women who are redefining AI and driving change in Indian industry

Women may still be under-represented in tech, but these five founders are shaking things up with their startups that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning.

14th Jun 2019
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Women in AI


Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay. It is changing the way humans interact with technology, ruling billions of rupees in investments, and driving innovation in business and different aspects of daily lives.


While we may have accomplished what once seemed impossible, making machines think like humans, it’s a sad fact that women continue to be under-represented in tech, especially AI.


The few women who are breaking ground in this field are those who have thought out of the box, and faced diverse challenges to reach where they are today – using this cutting-edge technology in their chosen fields to make a difference.


Meet the women who are changing industry with their unique innovations in AI.


Ashwini Asokan – MadStreetDen


Ashwini Asokan is a reverse expatriate; she left Silicon Valley and returned to India to start up her own company along with her husband Anand Chandrasekaran. The duo started Mad Street Den in Chennai to provide AI for apps. Users/developers can simply plug into the AI cloud platform MAD Stack with an API and use the functionalities of the product. The company's flagship product, 'visual search for fashion-based ecommerce', allows a user to take a picture of any piece of apparel and find it on an online shopping portal. This includes personalised recommendations based on visual qualities of clothes rather than just brand names. The company is already working with several ecommerce players to enable this feature. MSD also caters to gaming, ad tech, and analytics companies where its tools enable user engagement measurement and market research.


In an earlier interview with YourStory, Ashwini said,


“People have asked us over and over again, why come back to India to do AI. The answer is simple: the consumer market here is exploding. Take ecommerce, mobile gaming, mobile advertising. There are new behaviours with tech just emerging. That's a great time to bring new tech like AI and computer vision into the game. We're hoping to catch an audience that has essentially leapfrogged tech that the rest of the world went through step by step. And the interest we're getting from companies is hopefully proof of that.”



K Suriya Prabha - YouCode Intelligence


Suriya Prabha began learning code on her own after discussing the latest trends in the industry with her husband Karthik, an engineer. The learning developed into a passion that she sought to share with others, especially children, and YouCode was born. YouCode makes AI, robotics, and coding fun for children in rural areas of Tamil Nadu.


So far, the startup has reached out to 3,000 children in villages in Madurai, Virudhanagar, and Ramanathapuram districts. Ramanathapuram district (or Ramnad as it’s called) is part of its latest initiative.


The programme primarily aims to introduce awareness in electronics, AI, computer science, and robotics technology to students from Class 6 in all government schools. It covers three areas - “Code the Robots”, “Become a Robot”, and “Experience AI” – and Google and Amazon kits are used to explain the power of AI. The one-day programme covers various aspects and includes plentiful interaction and involvement of the children.



Geetha Manjunatha and Nidhi Mathur - Niramai


With the number of incidences of breast cancer rising all over the world, early screening is the key to detect the disease. Many women are afraid of mammography because they are afraid of the “pain” and the “risk” they think is part of the procedure. A non-invasive method is key to early detection of breast cancer.


Geetha Manjunatha and Nidhi Mathur founded Niramai, a “Non-Invasive Risk Assessment with Machine Intelligence” solution, for early detection of breast cancer.


The safe, non-touch, radiation-free, and low-cost method can detect tumours five times smaller than what clinical examination can detect. Also, women of all age groups can undergo screening without any side effects. It is also less expensive and does not require heavy equipment.


Niramai uses a high-resolution thermal sensing device that scans the chest area like a camera. It then uses cloud-hosted analytics solution to analyse the thermal images. Its SaaS solution uses big data analytics, AI and machine learning for reliable, early, and accurate breast cancer screening.



Gazal Kalra - Rivigo


Founded in 2014 by Gazal and Deepak Garg as TruckFirst, the company currently provides high quality services across major industry verticals such as ecommerce, FMCG, auto, pharma and the cold chain space. With over 550 company-owned trucks, Rivigo offers line-haul solutions and claims to lower transit time by 50-70 per cent as compared to typical operators. It services 170 unique routes across 18 distinct route types and has 40 hubs across the country. Another area of focus for the company, which has an employee base of around 2,000 not including the is technology, especially AI.


In an earlier interview with YourStory, Gazal said, “The amount of AI and Blockchain you can use in logistics is unparalleled. We generate so much data. Something as simple as driver routing can be made much more efficient with machine learning and AI.”



Niyati Agarwal – Morph.ai


It all started in 2015 when the three men — Abhishek Gupta, , Pratik Jain and Vipul Garg — got picked up by social media management company Sprinkr to be part of their founding R&D team in India. That’s how they got to know Niyati Agarwal, who also worked for that organisation. Their friendship turned into a full-blown entrepreneurship idea in March 2016.


Founded by Pratik Jain, Abhishek Gupta, Niyati Agarwal and Vipul Garg, Morph.ai is a B2B SaaS platform on which businesses can create, manage, and evolve chatbots to increase awareness, improve lead quality, and drive sales.


With chatbots, companies reach out to a business’ potential customers in real time and pursue high-quality leads. This in turn translates into instant engagement, personalised interactions with customers, and a one-on-one follow-up channel.



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