Ben Welter - Monday, August 24, 2015
MIT Technology Review has named Rahul Panicker one of 2015's "35 Innovators under 35." Panicker and three Stanford University classmates created the low-cost Embrace infant warmer and brought it to market. Panicker, co-founder and president of products at Embrace Innovations in Bangalore, India, explains how in an interview with the magazine:
"[W]e came up with a prototype incubator that costs 1 percent as much as traditional solutions and can be operated by a non-expert. It uses phase change materials to keep babies at the ideal temperature of 37° C for up to six hours without electricity. When heated with hot water or another source, a phase change material melts, and it can release heat the baby needs at a constant temperature.
“NGOs we’d partnered with passed on the design. We realized if we didn’t take this forward, no one else would. After a year of working on the project in my free time, we finally had our seed capital, and in 2009 I quit my job, moved to Bangalore with my three cofounders, and started Embrace. Since then our warmers have been used in 15 countries to help nearly 200,000 babies. We’ve implemented a hybrid for-profit/not-for-profit business model that lets us scale much faster than a charity."
In an interview this month with the Economic Times, Panicker described startup companies in his native India as lacking "big visionary thinking":
"Most innovations I see in the startup world or industrial research labs in India are product innovations, incremental innovations, or business-model innovations. I know of few examples of fundamental technological innovations. But I am hopeful it will happen as the tech-driven economy around us develops."http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/interviews/indian-startups-lack-vision-and-will-to-tackle-big-problems-rahul-alex-panicker/articleshow/48638277.cms