The UN had framed eight Millennium Development Goals in 2000, meant to be achieved by 2015. Of these eight, maternal health attained less than half the 5.5 percent annual rate that was required to achieve the reduction targeted for 2015.(Source: UNICEF data: Monitoring the Situation of Children and Women. Website: https://data.unicef.org/topic/maternal-health/maternal-mortality/) In India, maternal health is poor when compared to the world. When Senthil Kumar's sister conceived, he decided to find a solution not only for his sister but also for all the expectant mothers across the globe.
Being a working person, Senthil's sister was not able to visit the doctor regularly and often did not follow her diet and medicine routine. Adding to these woes, there were many times when she panicked, scaring the rest of the family as well. Just a little bit of research made it clear to Senthil that his sister's wasn't an isolated case and that the situation was much worse in rural India. He then decided to develop a device which could help expectant mothers through their journey. Inspired by the rudraksh mala, he developed a wearable device based on its design and, determined to offer expectant mothers healthier lives, founded Olive Wear with his friends Sunder and Divya in Bengaluru in September 2016.
“This device ensures that expectant mothers do their walking on time, eat food and medication on time—it's an auto reminder. It also monitors their sleep pattern and lets them know how effective they are sleeping,” says Senthil.
Having interviewed many gynaecologists, the trio found out that their design needed improvement. “We wanted to build a device which could be used as a personalised health care kit and ensure that the battery life lasted the entire nine-month period. Hence, we designed a separate kit which could measure all the vital parameters required by any doctor during pregnancy,” states Senthil.
Despite the founders' dedication, their journey was filled with hardships. “There were investors who told us that we didn't have a healthcare background and asked how we were going to work on the idea. We then had to get doctors who could validate for us. I remember we had completed 120 to 130 pitches to investors. Every time we learn a new lesson, every time we grow,” says Sunder, Co-founder, Olive Wear.
Despite all the hurdles they had to overcome, their hard work paved the way for their first major success: receiving NASSCOM's support. Later, when they pitched at a Singapore accelerator programme, their idea was applauded by many.
The founders of Olive Wear say that with the product's design and development ready, they are looking to expand both domestically and internationally. “We are getting a project with one of our foundations, which has around 100 villages under it. We plan to scale the startup globally and not restrict it only to the domestic market; that's the reason we took part in the international accelerator programme. We already have options to scale in the US, Australia, and Europe—we have identified partners who could take our product and scale the operations there,” says Sunder.