To Rishav Shrestha, 2013 was a memorable year. It was the year he began his journey as an entrepreneur.
Through InnoVenture, a module supported by the NUS Institute of Engineering Leadership (IEL), Rishav and his team created the Lapner Series, a cost-effective training simulator for keyhole surgery. The simulator can significantly reduce the current surgical training cost to just 10% and training time by a third. It won the 2014 InnoVenture Challenge organised by IEL and is now in its final stage of product development.
Following its success, his team also founded the company KuranoMed Pte Ltd this year, and has plans to add training simulators for other types of surgeries to the Lapner Series.
A final year Ph.D. student at the NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering (NGS), Rishav holds a Master in Public Health from the United States and a bachelor’s degree in Medicine from Nepal. He also worked as a practicing clinician in Nepal.
“The idea was to create an affordable yet reliable training device for hospitals and medical schools in developing countries that are often constrained by lack of funding and infrastructure,” says Rishav. “After consulting several surgeons, IEL mentors and catalysts, our team decided on a laparoscopic (or keyhole) training prototype.”
He also joined the NUS Frugal Innovation Lab (FIL) offered by the Department of Engineering and Technology Management. At FIL, he realised there is indeed a huge market for such devices.
The team has since presented the simulator to practicing surgeons and has improved the design based on their feedback. A test unit is in the pipeline, which will further assess and validate the simulator’s features and functionalities before launching it in the market.
Challenges, however, abound during the process. Lack of funding and resources count as his key concerns. As a result, he had to keep a lean team and his costs down. At times, the team even had to contribute from their personal savings. Managing the high expectations of investors and consumers was also keeping Rishav on his toes. “Users want the product to meet all their needs, and the investors want it to be marketed quickly,” he adds. This, coupled with his Ph.D. work, was keeping him busy all the time.
When asked about his experience with InnoVenture and FIL programmes, Rishav says, “The programmes helped us a lot, especially in terms of how to work in the emerging markets.”
There were also facilitations from IEL’s mentors and advisors, for which Rishav was grateful. And the course offered an excellent process for him to truly understand what entrepreneurship entails. Mentors and advisors made use of their domain expertise to deliver the course, allowing Rishav to learn from real-life examples. During weekly meet-ups, there were opportunities to network with people from diverse backgrounds.
“Mentors and advisors are like your part-time team. They bring the knowledge and experience that work,” he puts it aptly.
KuranoMed is a medical training startup providing integrated technology-assisted medical training systems. Founded in 2013, the startup is currently in bridge financing phase as well as looking to expand its team. KuranoMed intends to create a base in SEA headquartered in Singapore and expand into most emerging markets in the next few years. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org